What about the money from my birthday? They are gone - in food!

Langas is muddy today - but somehow the air is charged with a positive vibe. It rained after months of drought. People bless God and the sky for reliving the soil from its dust.

Collins and I are strolling around, collecting bags and bottles to repack the big batches of rice, flour, and oil we purchased for the needy families of Langas. This was possible thanks to the 15 people who contributed to the fundraising I initiate for my birthday in March 2021. With the 250£ collected, we purchased 180 kg of maize; 100 kg of rice; 40 liters of oil; 50 soap bars. We have reached out to 35 families.

I thought a lot about the best way to spend this money: somehow, I wanted to do a small project intended to have a long term impact in Langas, something that could empower local people living in deprived conditions like the ones of a slum; I was full of myself in thinking that "you don't give a man a fish, but you teach him how to fish". 

It took me time and lots of guidance from my fieldworkers to understand that the standards of living in Langas are down to the basic. That clothes, electricity, home utensils are luxuries. That people struggle in paying school fees for their kids. That the universally recognised priority is one and only: food.

Of the 70.000 people living in Langas, 85% of them live with less than a dollar a day - which is 70 pences or 80 cents in euros. Food is usually ugali - the white, simple polenta made with water and flour; or boiled rice with local vegetables. The families we visited today struggle even in providing for this.

A old lady, maybe in her seventies, is suffering from stomach ulcer: we found her washing some kitchen utensils for money, at the margin of the streets. She wasn't eating anything other than tea for 3 days.

A young single mother, living with her kid and her mum in an indecent plot with no water or latrines, seemed to be too tired of life to even pretend a smile when we gave her food. She is only 17.

A woman is living in a metal-sheet house: she got suddenly blind some years ago, she was abandoned by her husband as a result of her conditions and her kids were taken from her by the social services.

A very serious man, composed and somehow proud in his decent humility, is collecting our parcel of food: it is for her little daughter, indeed, who is home alone most of the time. Her mum fled away and the dad is "hassling around" all day to provide a little for her. She is 8.

Lots of these families we visited are living in very poor plots, where houses are made of mud and the mud is all around, sticking to the consumed clothes of the kids, especially in the rainy season. "Imagine you are born here, grew up here, and what you have seen for all your life are just misery and daily struggles. And very often around you people are drinking local alcohol, smoking and sniffing drugs or glue to cope with the difficulties of their life". This is the caption I received when we visited a very dodgy corner where kids were playing among clothes hanged to dry and adults altered by the fumes of substances.

This is only a summary of what we have seen today in Langas. After 3 months in the slum, the situations we encounter today still managed to surprise me. 

This was the moment when I understood that Collins was right, that the best way to use this money was to buy food. This was the moment in which it came to my awareness that you cannot "teach a man how to fish", if the man is hungry. The man - and the woman, they will just be distracted by the hunger consuming their stomach for days; by the misery in which they are trapped every day; by the need to hassle and to somehow survive.

Unfortunately, nowadays people in Langas are just merely surviving. The pandemic has impacted the slum in a severe way, leaving lots without jobs and reducing even the small possibilities for casual work. It would be easy for us, as it was for me at the beginning, to think that the food we buy for them will be quickly finished; and that these people will soon be hungry again. I am also sure that someone could think that the world is full of these situations.... where do we start to make a difference?

In Kenya, the aftermaths of the pandemic are ongoing. Issues of inequalities, maldistribution of resources, corruption are ongoing and have been exponentiated by the events of Covid19. People are just trying to survive waiting for a greener pastures to come. It will be unrealistic and arrogant to think that it is possible to change the situation when food is missing.

Lots of organizations in Langas are striving to continue to support the most needy: I would like to thanks Solasa for their endless support to women and children; and Langas Jicho Pevu for Change for their limitless ways of helping the whole community with no agenda or personal profit. In particular, thanks to Njeri for identifying our target families and for arranging the logistics.

In particular, thanks to Collins for being an excellent companion, chaperon, guide, personal guard and a dear friend for me while in Langas. Especially, thanks Collins for facilitating this food distribution with your usual efficiency and human dedication.

Thanks to all the donors of my small fundraising. We have put a meal on the table for a week for at least 150 people. May God - or Allah or whichever other identity you may worship - bless you. 

I am personally grateful to all of you because distributing this food on your behalf allowed me to have a very good and delayed celebration of my birthday!

And thus, please continue donate if you can: you can now do it through Ko-fi at with the price of a coffee - well, of a coffee in the UK! 😁 we can fill some hungry stomachs. 



  1. Actually ilack words to use.but only to thank God for the good work from his people.. personally always feel good when Asad person affords a smile..thanks to all who made this event asucces...iwant to assure you that the situation on the ground is tough.more resolution (permanent) needed.

  2. thanks for this feeback. We will keep working for a better Langas.


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