Jamelia's Kenyan Diary

When British pop star Jamelia decided to step off the red carpet and into a Kenyan slum, she wasn't sure what to expect. Here are her own thoughts, as she recorded them during her visit to Kibera.

Monday 12 January 11.00am
This evening I'm flying to Nairobi to visit a World Food Programme school feeding project in Kibera - which is Africa's biggest slum. 
I'm going to see for myself just how the money raised for school feeding is being spent.

Monday 12 January 8.30pm
So this is it.  I'm about to board my flight to Nairobi leaving England and my two beautiful daughters behind.  "What will Kibera be like"?   Someone suggested that I watch the movie, 'A Constant Gardener', as some of the scenes were filmed in Kibera.  However, I didn't have time so I've no idea what to expect. 

Tuesday 13 January 11.30am
Just finished the WFP security briefing and I have learned that Kibera has been 'relatively safe' since the violence sparked by last January's elections.  Eek! 

Tuesday 13 January 6.00pm
We walked through Kibera's narrow alleys - which are strewn with litter and riven by open gutters.   We turned a corner and ahead was STARA School – a single story block with a tin roof.  We were just in time to help with serving lunch.  Josephine, the head teacher, showed me to the kitchen, a small corrugated iron shed, where one of the pupils' mothers was stirring an enormous vat of thick porridge, made of maize flour, lentils and cooking oil - all provided by WFP.
After lunch I spent time chatting to the children - and I was shocked to learn that the food at school is usually their only meal of the day.  Josephine says this meal is the reason why many pupils attend lessons.  Since WFP started providing food at STARA school enrolment has increased 150% to over 500 children. 

Wednesday 14 January 12.00pm
Yesterday, I was invited by one of the students, Edith (aged 8), to visit her home - while she was at school.  Edith lives with her Mother and her cousin, in a tiny mud hut in Kibera.  Inside the only furniture was a single, rickety stool and a few cooking utensils.  Edith's Mother, who’s too ill to work, is 4 months in arrears with the rent.  The family are afraid they might be evicted and there is rarely enough food so most nights they go to sleep hungry.

Thursday 15 January 4.00pm
I have just arrived back at home after my short visit to Kenya.  I am exhausted but deeply moved by what I saw in Kibera.
The children at STARA are just like children the world over: full of laughter, incredibly friendly and playful and apparently carefree.   The visit to Edith's home gave me a very different perspective on the struggle they face.  The majority of the children from STARA come from similar homes.  Edith is one of the lucky ones as her mother is still alive.  Many of her classmates are AIDS orphans.  School feeding ensures the children in Kibera attend school - and the education they receive can help bring them a brighter future.

Jamelia went to Kibera because she supported the Really Good School Dinner campaign in English schools. Learn more