Waiting to eat with Nairobi Food Not Bombs


I had heard so many good things about the work Douglas was doing with Nairobi Food Not Bombs. Nairobi Food Not Bombs had its first meeting in in Mountain View on June 14, 2008 and they shared their first meal on July 26, 2008. Doug spent no time in setting up a Facebook page for Nairobi Food Not Bombs. The photos of his meals and journalism classes in the slums of Kenya were impressive. The East Africa Vegetarian Congress was to be held the first week of December. When I was participating in the National Animal Rights Conference in Washington D.C. I was introduced to Doctor Anteneh Roba of the International Fund for Africa. He told me about the formation of an Ethiopian Vegan Association and their interest in starting a Food Not Bombs group in Addis Ababa.

Sharing food near the Canon

Boy eating with Food Not Bombs

Boy eating with Food Not Bombs

Keith opens first meal

While I was on my fall tour he emailed to let me know about Liladhar Bharadia and the East Africa Vegetarian Congress in Nairobi on December 4th. Dr. Anteneh was able to secure funding for my plane ticket from A Well Fed World and off I was on my way to Africa. My first visit to Nairobi has been more successful then I had expected. Our coordinator Douglas Rori made his room in Mountain View available to me. We started our week with a meeting at the Artcafe in Westland. Doug told me that it would be wise to register as an NGO and that he would provide me with a copy of the requirements. He calculated the fees for the registration, money needed to secure a bank account and mail box would total $700 U.S. dollars. We saw that the café baked their own bread so we talked with the manager and set up a time to pick up their unsold baked goods. After the meeting we bought the food for Saturday's meal at the community center Shangilia Youth 2 Youth Network in the Kibagare, Kangemi slum in Nairobi. The rice, beans, oil, two large plastic buckets, large cooking pot, and other items costing 4,000 shillings or $50 U.S. dollars. That evening we soaked and cooked the beans. The city water was cut off to our area of Nairobi soon after we started the beans so we were lucky.

Sharing vegan food at Kibagare, Kangemi

Doug shares food at Kibagare, Kangemi

Kids eat at Korogocho

Kids welcome Keith

Early the next morning Doug and I reheated the beans, cooked a cabbage and tomato dish and a huge pot of rice. Doug had to get additional water from a storage tank near his mother's home. Doug called a taxi and let the community center know we were about to leave. He also called a photographer. The taxi took us to Artcafe where the employees provided us with a large bag of artisan bread. Then we headed out to the community center. The road through the "commercial" district of the slum was very rough.

Sharing food

Girl with one shoe

Cooking in Nairobi

Sharing food in Kibagare, Kangemi

Once at the community center we were greeted by the staff, a camera man from Film Aid and our photographer. The staff announced the meeting. Around 100 children and teenagers pushed into the center. The staff helped us bring the food to a back room and we posted the banners and place out the literature. Doug introduce me to the children and staff and I told them a little about Food Not Bombs then we set out a table and brought out the rice, beans, vegetable stew and bread from the library. The staff directed everyone to get in line and we recruited volunteers to help share the food. The youth glowed with huge smiles and sparkling eyes which were so heart warming. We shared the last of the food after about half an hour. We had enough for everyone that attended. There was very little pushing and shoving but it was clear towards the end that some of the children were worried we would run out. The last couple of kids didn't get as much as I would have liked to share with them. We visited with the children as they played outside after eating. In the past Doug would teach classes on photography and journalism after sharing the meal so I let the kids use my camera to take pictures.

Kids eating second meal with Keith

Cooking food in Korogocho

Ready to eat at Kangemi

That same day local Kenya TV reported that Maasai land rights activist Moses ole Mpoe was shot to death in Nakuru. His vehicle was sprayed with bullets from an AK 47 while stuck in a traffic jam. Mpoe had been working for the return of land taken away from the Maasai community during the British colonial period. He was also a respected supervisor on the Muthera Farm in Mau Narok, which is owned by the family of former Kenyatta Cabinet minister Mbiyu Koinange. His murder sparked protests. Douglas called the AK 47 "Africa's weapon of mass distraction." That same day six police officers were killed in Nairobi by what the police claimed were terrorists. Over 130 people were arrested for illegally sneaking into Kenya from Ethiopia and Somalia on their way to seek work in South Africa and the Luis Moreno-Ocampo was in Nairobi to announce that the International Criminal Court would name six suspects that would face charges "with crimes against humanity for their part in violence that left more than 1,000 people dead after the disputed 2007 presidential election." Doug showed me a documentary by the Mars Group Kenya that showed the corruption and causes of the post election violence. I visited the website On December 15, 2010 but it was shut down by December 27th.

Eating before class at Kangemi

Girl with the second lunch we shared

Vegan food for all

Keith shares second meal of his visit

Nairobi Food Not Bombs started in 2007 and has been providing meals to young people in several poor areas of the city before teaching classes in community journalism. Douglas Rori has been the coordinator since the start of Food Not Bombs in Kenya and has made many connections with local community leaders in some of Nairobi's poorest areas. His students have submitted a number of articles and photographs about the life in the slums of Nairobi to Indykids in New York inspiring the children he has been teaching and feeding to have greater self respect. One of the children"s articles reported on a story about how people collect trash bags from the city dump. Empty the garbage and wash the trash bags in the Nairobi River.

Listening to Doug teach

Mother helps organize children

Photo of everyone at Korogocho

Doug and his students in Kangemi

Later that afternoon we packed up our banners, literature and equipment, packed the taxi and returned to Mountain View to clean the dishes and cooking equipment. We had to be careful with to use our water as efficiently as possible. We paid the taxi driver 4,000 shillings for the trip through Nairobi. We relaxed on Sunday morning and then that afternoon we visited with Liladhar Bharadia, the director of The Vegetarian Society of Kenya at the Artcafe. Mr. Bharada gave us a tour of the Visa Oshawal Religious Center and introduced Doug and I to their director and kitchen staff. Mr. Bharadia also gave us documents about the Vegetarian Congress in Nairobi to be held on December 18th and the Middle Eastern Vegetarian Conference being held on December 7th and 8th.

Walking to Kangemi

Volunteers share lunch

Eating at Kangemi

Keith helps feed the kids

The next day we headed out to meet the Catherine Mugo Marketing Director of one of Kenya's largest groceries Nakumatt. We also met with Ameet Shah and other staff members to talk about regular donations of food. Catherine explained that their food was divided into cereals and produce. The company Fresh and Juicy provided all the produce. They were very helpful and asked us to email them to share a bit about our history and needs. We received a call from the director of the Nairobi International School telling us that they had extra food so we agreed to pick it up at noon. Doug called our taxi. We went to a bank where I withdrew more money and we rushed to meet our taxi. We drove to the Nairobi International School. The school donated about 100 paper bags of food and a box of bananas. We stopped at Doug's house, picked up banners and a camera. We rushed to the community center where we were treated to acrobatic tricks by the children as we waited for the staff to bring the key.


Eating lunch at Korogocho

Lunch at Korogocho

Young boy eats lunch

Girls visit during lunch in Korogocho

They arrived soon so we posted our banners, set up the chairs and table for the food. We recruited a volunteer to help share the bagged lunches and the staff organized the youth to get in line. The kids were once again so kind and eager to get their meal. We had even more then required so that was put aside and Doug and I returned with the taxi to Westland to get some American money for the visa to Addis Ababa. Nairobi Food Not Bombs is able to continue to provide vegan meals every Saturday before their educational workshop rotating each week from one slum to another returning once a month to each location. It is urgent that we raise the $700 necessary to register Nairobi Food Not Bombs as this activity could be dangerous otherwise. Doug is a great asset. He lived with his single mother in a poor area of Nairobi and with her work as a school teacher and his ingenuity he was able to attend film school and has become an accomplished journalist working for NGO's like Oxfam and the United Nations. He is passing on the knowledge he learned to help improve the lives of others in Kenya. The fact that he has already achieved so much under such difficult conditions is truly amazing and it was us an honor to work with him. The week long visit with Nairobi Food Not Bombs and Douglas was a huge success.

School in Kangemi

The village of Korogocho

Doug teaches journalism class after lunch

Doug took me to the airport. Not an easy thing with a huge tractor trailer truck crashed across the highway. Even with the traffic jam we made it on time. After a short two hour flight on one of Ethiopia airlines new jets we arrived in Addis Ababa. As I was going through customs to get our visa I told the officer that I was attending a conference hosted by the Ethiopia Vegan Association. That surprised the man behind me in line who remarked he was pleased to know their was such a movement. I told him I volunteered with Food Not Bombs and that farther interested him. I got my visa, picked up my bag at the carrousel and sure enough my hosts were there to pick me up. They were all smiles and so welcoming. The drive to the Ras Hotel was quick. My bank card didn't work but fortunately I had $25 U.S. and they took that for the evening. The room was on the Nelson Mandela floor and a photo of a jail cell with the words Nelson Mandela's cell for 27 years hung outside my room 210. The room was fantastic. New washroom fixtures and two comfortable single beds. A complex shower and a TV with four channels one of which was tuned to the BBC news. After being so careful with the water in Nairobi the hot shower seemed like a blessing.

Volunteer shares vegan lunch

Drumming during lunch

Playing in the streets of Kangemi

Lining up to eat

Washing hands in Korogocho

Enjoying lunch at Kangemi

You are invited to join Food Not Bombs in our work to make Africa's future bright.

Food Not Bombs - Nairobi, Kenya Chapter
Feeding street children in Korogocho and Kangemi
Facebook page for Nairobi Food Not Bombs.

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