Written by Naomi Rousselot.
Hello! I’m Naomi, a 19-year-old French woman, and I would love to take you through the incredible journey I embarked on with CFK Africa. It all began in September 2022 when I decided to learn Swahili, slowly discovering and immersing myself in the vibrant culture of East Africa. Little did I know that this journey would lead me to Kenya, and to one of the largest informal settlements on the African continent – Kibera. Join me on this one-of-a-kind adventure with CFK Africa, an organization that works tirelessly to bring hope and change to the lives of the incredible individuals living in Kibera and 24 other informal settlements in Kenya.
The Journey Begins
As the months passed, my desire to go discover Eastern Africa grew stronger. I wanted to travel but also to be of service. Stepping into the unknown, I prepared myself for a life-altering experience with CFK Africa. I didn’t know what to expect precisely but I knew I would come back a changed person. After landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, I made my way to Ngong Road, where my warm and welcoming host family awaited. A few days later, there I was, in Kibera, at CFK Africa’s Headquarters, ready to begin the adventure.
A Welcoming Community
Overwhelmed by the bustling environment, I first felt out of place: I questioned the impact I could have as a young foreigner with very little work experience. However, the education team welcomed me with open arms, instantly making me feel at home. As I visited CFK Africa’s various centers in the slum, I was greeted by smiles everywhere. And the more I learned about CFK Africa’s incredible work, the more I realized that my initial perception was true: this organization does miracles.
Empowering through Education
Talking with Lucy and Joshua from the Education team, we explored the ways I could contribute to their mission. Primarily, I was to work with the Lux Sit & Jim Rogers Scholarship Program, which supports educating high-school students from Kibera and 24 other informal settlements across the country. During the April holiday school break, I worked with the students, tutoring them on mathematics concepts and conducting basic first-aid training. Despite language barriers, we connected through interactive sessions, exchanging ideas and creating a sense of camaraderie (after all I’m only a few years older than them).
The Writing Project: Unleashing Creativity
In collaboration with an American school, we offered a prompt for the students to respond to, “The one thing you know for sure is…”. The Lux Sit & Jim Rogers Scholarship Program students started writing and quickly poured their hearts onto the paper. The result? Exciting and inspiring stories set to be compiled and published in a book by June 2023. We collected dozens of works brimming with passion and determination and I worked on providing constructive feedback to each student, may it be in person or over the phone. This process allowed me to connect with them on a deeper level, even reaching those supported by the program but living in different parts of the country and that I didn’t get to meet in person. Through creative writing, the students got to discover a new way of expressing themselves and, most importantly, of being heard. Their stories inspired me, revealing their unwavering optimism for the future in spite of everything that life had thrown at them.
The Dream Documentary: Capturing Inspiration
Equipped with a small camera, I also set to direct a documentary that would narrate the dreams and aspirations of these remarkable young individuals. In informal settlements like Kibera, dreams often fade as children are forced to grow up too quickly. But CFK Africa’s commitment to education allows some of them to keep dreaming. Interviewing them, filming their activities and involving them in the creative process was the best way to capture the unique experience that reigns in CFK. Through this documentary, I aim to highlight the universal nature of dreams and share the students’ inspiring stories of resilience and hope.
As the students returned to school at the beginning of May, I focused on polishing their writings and finalizing the publishing process. Simultaneously, I edited the documentary, working hard to stay true to the students’ stories. During this time, I also got to learn more about the diverse range of actions led by the organization, witnessing firsthand their impact across various domains.
My journey with CFK Africa was definitely life-altering. The resilience and strength displayed by the students I worked with, despite challenging circumstances, gave me a lot to think about and to learn. Their unwavering determination to dream and create a brighter future inspired me beyond measure. CFK Africa’s commitment to education and empowerment paints a beautiful picture of hope and perseverance in Kenya, a side that deserves recognition and support. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I had to be part of this journey, even for such a short period as one month. And I strongly believe that this trip is only the beginning of my story with CFK Africa and Kenya. I’ll be back!