Portfolio: Projects: Kenya
As a college student on a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003, I witnessed how people carve normalcy out of even the most difficult conditions. With this thought in mind, I traveled to Kenya on a Fulbright Fellowship in 2004 to photograph young people living in one of Nairobi's biggest slums, Mathare Valley.
Mathare Valley, home to roughly half a million densely populated squatters, is a sprawling chaotic slum of corrugated metal shanties on Nairobi's eastern outskirts. Homes lack running water, tenants pirate electricity, and open sewers run along muddy, makeshift roads. The clattering of rats across metal roofs is Mathare Valley's nightly lullaby. Police and gangs maraud with impunity. Formal employment is rare; the opportunity to graduate high school is rarer still.
And yet, the people I met in Mathare Valley taught me that although getting by is often difficult, that does not necessarily make life ugly.
As hip-hop artist Talib Kweli puts it, "Life is a beautiful struggle."