Soweto Slum in Nairobi Kenya.
Some noted differences: American poverty involves more stuff, albeit perhaps, broken, useless, cheap trappings. Litter of old sofas, hulks of defunct cars, not so much garbage, no open sewers. Soweto is not cluttered with the discarded. Garbage and sewage excepting.
Three closets the size of home. We poke our paleness inside–an acceptable variety of voyeurism to Kenyans, even the poorest Kenyans value relationship. We are asked to sit in a windowless room the size of a closet. I hope that is what I am doing, the relationship thing. How is this different from staring?
The boys below haven’t noticed us. Sliding down the steep incline on their butts employs certain survival instincts that they will abandon to chase after us calling , HOW ARE YOU HOW ARE YOU HOW ARE YOU HOW ARE YOU?, tortuous choruses like bird-chatter. The question follows us like shadow.
Round and red and familiar as the flies that cover everything: hunger. Our gifts were bread and Bibles…
Wash the laundry, cleanse the soul. Very clean clothes…
dry in the stench. Certain people collect buckets of raw sewage from each family as a kind of employment. Dump it in this river. Clean redefined.