June 2007
my friend Heidi

My friend Heidi has been working in Kenya for nearly a year.
She asked me to take photos to help fundraise for projects she's involved with.

interviewing a teenager about his background and a school bursary

a school on the southern edge of Kibera - possibly the largest slum in Africa


fires are a big problem in the slums - many children are badly burnt as a result

children in class

I love this impromtu group portrait.

Unlike many of the pictures I take, I didn't know these children personally when I took these images. It felt intrusive just to visit a school to take photos, however valuable the reason. Such images convey certain stereotypes, to educate and stimulate a response. Heidi had a real connection to these projects and people but I still felt really uncomfortable. Africa isn't an arena of masks and external guilt for me - but real people, individuals, stories like my own.

However I like this image, with its hints each child's quirky individuality bubbling through, irrepressibly.

Parts of Kibera are simply filthy. A small trickle of a stream runs behind the school, choked with plastic bags and worse (a dead dog, barely wrapped in some sheets, rotting slowly away under the bridge). The stench is horrendous.

another school, this time in Huruma

the classrooms here were far more basic - this was one quarter of a huge noisy hall

the kids entertained us

the local counselling centre

another crowded classroom, with children at the back sitting in the gloom

a vocational training centre, teaching carpentry, building and mechanical skills


without skills and employment, many young people end up on the streets