I went to Kibera last week, which is the largest slum in Nairobi if not all of East Africa. Over the last four years I must have gone there at least 30 times for project monitoring and project implementation purposes. Lately I mostly go there during donor visits; like recently we took Vice President Joe Biden’s son there and a few other visitors. For this visit we had like 6-8 Secret Service Agents.
Last week it was a Chinese delegation and we were just visiting one school in the inner Kibera. During the visit the children had prepared an impressive performance and everything was going quite well. The visitors saw the kitchen where our school meals are prepared and my manager took them to the food store, which was a small dark room. Most of us were standing outside as there was no space for all of us in that little room. I noticed several young men entering the school compound looking around. Suddenly two of them had guns out and came directly for us. We have been trained for these types of situations so we did exactly what they asked us to, which was to lay down and hand over our money, cameras and cell phones; I also had to part with my wedding ring. At no point was a gun pointed directly at me and the whole thing took 2-3 minutes; then they where gone. My manager had managed to hide the highest-level delegates in the storeroom: she just stood in the door blocking the entry. I think the robbers were too scared to move inside the rooms so that went well.
Afterwards everything was reported to the police and UN security and I think we will go with a lot of (armed) security next time.
The day after I attended a group counseling session at the UN and a quick 20- question survey indicated that I was between normal and mildly stressed by the situation. The following days I have been very tired and unmotivated but that should be a normal reaction. A wife has proven to be particularly helpful in this situation : )
I plan not to go back to Kibera and now that Kenya is at war with Al Shabab (terrorists in Somalia), we basically just stay home and avoid malls, cafes, and any place that a lot of people might be.
Looking forward to a Christmas holiday.