'Slum Survivors' inspires and uplifts

 
Photo: IRIN
Roof tops in the Kibera slum, Nairobi
NAIROBI, 16 March 2011 (IRIN) - In September 2007, IRIN released its award-winning film Slum Survivors, a 45-minute documentary about five people living in the Kenyan slum of Kibera.

Slum Survivors has since become one of our most acclaimed and widely watched films and provides concrete proof that IRIN films change lives.
Al Jazeera has broadcast the film several times on its Witness strand, and viewers have contributed more than US$100,000 to support characters from the film and their work.

What is more, three years later and inspired by our film, the BBC sent four UK celebrities to live and work in the slum for a week - and filmed their experiences as part of the annual BBC Comic Relief charity telethon. Last year Comic Relief raised $92 million for good causes in Britain and Africa.

So, last month we went back to Kibera to catch up with the characters in our film to see how they and their families are faring.


The cast of characters

Slum Survivors opens with graphic scenes of a woman giving birth to her eighth child. She is fed up with the husband who turns up late and unannounced, demanding sex.

Four years later, Jane Auma has given her man the push and set up a small business selling chips on the roadside. Life remains a struggle for the family but for now she has a little financial independence and no imminent threat of another pregnancy.

Dennis the gangster wanted to change his life, turn his back on the robberies and the rapes, and escape his nightmares. He cooked and sold doughnuts and made the occasional foray into a nearby forest to cut wood for sale.

But not much has changed for Dennis. Neighbourhood talk is that he is still on the job. He has had a kid, but rarely sees either the child or her mother.

One of the most striking sequences of the film showed Patrick Mburu emptying pit latrine toilets in the dead of night. He did not much care for the job but the money was good and as he put it at the time, "I'll carry as much shit as it takes to keep my kid in school."

Four years later Patrick is still emptying toilets and his kid is still in school - and doing quite well by all accounts.

For two of our main characters, Carol (the HIV-positive single mother), and Abdul, please see the attached video clips to learn more about how their lives have changed.