I want to try and paint a visual picture of what the slum life is like so you can see how you are helping these children.
Housing costs are around $10.00 a month for a home rental, this home consists of a 8'x 8' corrugated steel walled room with corrugated steel roof. There are no interior walls, the floor is dirt, and there is no running water, toilet or electricity.
An average family size is often 4 or more in this one room home.
Often, the family cannot afford this $10.00 a month rental fee, and they are locked out for half the month. These dwellings are lined up right next to each other and each neighbor can hear every noise throughout the area.
The sewers are an open sewage system and sewage runs down the middle of the walkways. When it rains there is no telling what you are walking through.
A Tassia child will grow up within this setting and see all the activities within the home. There is nothing private and a child will sometimes be sold into sexual slavery or to perform sexual acts by their own parents as they try to deal with no money and no real means of getting enough to pay for their meager means.
I often will tell people that I can carry out all of the belonging from a Tassia home in one card board box on my shoulders. The one bed, which might be an inch thick mattress, is shared by the whole family.
When a child wakes up in the morning they often begin the day with a cup of water. The clothing they have is what they have worn for a long time already. The family often goes to the dump area where they scrounge for scraps of copper, metals or any thing salvageable that they could sell for a few schillings. They combine the schillings they have to purchase food for a meal from the local store.
When we consider a store we think big, like Safeway, Albertsons, or Walmart. In the slum, the store may only be a 4'x 4' room and the owner might only have some wood, charcoal, coal, flour that can be bought by the cup, tangerines, bananas, or other fruits or vegetables. The money gathered may only buy a cup of flour which the family brings home to mix with water for a meal, like a porridge.
Many children go days without a meal.
The parents of the children are generational slum dwellers and their parents and grand parents have also lived this way. Most Kenyans go back to the farms they grew up on but the slum dweller does not have any where to go no land to go back to. The parents, the grandparents often are not educated they have no skills to count on. A common slum job for women is to become a wash maids while the men go around trying to find odd jobs they could do.
Water in the slums is controlled by gangs. The gangs have an illegal tap on the city water and they sell water to the Tassia community members who go to them with 5 gallon bottles. The water often times is not clean because the tap was placed in the mud which is partly sewage waste and partly mud.
Electricity is controlled by the gangs that steal electricity from the city wires. Some slum dwellings have a light in them, or even outlets. Electricity is often ran through the slums with bare wires exposed and many slum dwellers have been killed by electrocution from these unsafe practices.
The child in Beyond the Vision Community School finds security in knowing they will be fed. At the school they receive 2 meals a day, the drinking water is treated, and within the school no one has gotten sick from Cholera, Yellow Fever, Malaria, or water-borne illnesses which affect the slum a couple times a years.
Jackie sends the children home with water bottles of clean water to help them stay healthy while at home. Many of the children beg to stay in the school over night because they feel safe there.