Monday is usually 'studio visiting day' and this Monday was no exception. I went to see Shabu Mwangi who proudly calls Lunga Lunga Slum his home. After meeting up at the GoDown, Shabu and I drove to Lunga Lunga in the company of my usual crew of four legged friends.
At the entrance to the slum, we parked and Shabu had a group of his friendly helpers look after the car with its windows rolled way down, as there was no shade to park the dogs in.
Off we set on foot through the maze of Mbati (corrugated metal) shops and homes, with Shabu stopping regularly to chat to friends. There is a strong sense of community about the place, everyone seemingly relaxed with no under-current of tension. I felt quite safe taking photos on my smart phone as we walked.
We hopped over the open sewers and negotiated the mud, puddles and mounds of plastic trash. First I stopped by Shabu's pristine studio but as we left he asked me if I would like to see his project round the corner.
We set off again.
This time we made a few sharp turns, the pathway narrowing more and more until we were in an alleyway about two feet wide. Almost instantly we arrived at a red door.
The librarian, Freshia, bent to unlock it and then I felt that we had stepped into the most wonderful sanctuary. We had arrived at a beautiful, quiet, library.
Not the stuffy 'must whisper' type, this one has cheerful paintings against the Mbati, colourful cushions and blankets stacked round the perimeter for the toddlers to use and two major shelves of books, all perfectly labelled.
What is urgently needed now are more solar reading lights and some academic books. Please contact us if anyone can help!