Bloosom found a home in Kibera and decided to turn it into a mansion

© arcomai I Semple of floating shelf selected by Bloosom for her room in Kibera.

Bloosom is a teacher who lives and works in Nairobi. She is a single mother of a beautiful 12-year-old boy. Her son suffers from autism and he requires periodic treatment. In 2020, due to Covid, she lost her job and was forced to give up her rented apartment in Kilimani, a residential area about 5km west of the CBD (Central Business District) where she lived, moving to Kibera (alias Kibra), the large]st slum (of ten) in the Kenyan capital. It is estimated that almost 60% of Nairobi’s population (equal to 2.5 million inhabitants) lives in the so-called  “informal settlements”, of which Kibra hosts around 250,000 inhabitants declared, although “informal” estimate puts the population at approximately 1.2 million. At the beginning of 2021 Bloosom wrote me a message on WhatsApp asking for my opinion on a couple of changes she wanted to make in the room she lived in with his son.

Among these she had in mind to install a floating shelf in the bathroom. She sent me a couple of examples, taken from the internet, asking me for my opinion. I told her that for that type of supports a fairly solid wall was needed – preferably in brick – as that bracket system is not suitable for walls built with mud or corrugated metal sheets, materials mainly used in constructions in those built-up places.

The ghetto may seem like an inhospitable and dangerous place but for my friend in that difficult moment in her life it was the only place to go, the only solution for survival. During the Covid-19 lockdown, many things happened in Kibra, many of which were not good. It wasn’t easy for her to live there; she had to adapt without giving up her dignity by adapting that refuge in order to remain herself. For Bloosom and his son, things seem to be going better. She found a new job and they recently moved to a 3-bedroom apartment in Syokimanu, not far from the capital’s airport. They left a few objects in Kibra, including the “luxury shelf”, but also many friends and unforgettable memories.

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