Bishara Hamo underwent forced Female Genital Mutilation as a child, and will live with the scars all her life....
I struggled growing up in different slums but I now run my own production house
Tell us about yourself
I was born in Kibera slum as the last born in a family of two children. In 2000, our family moved to Kangemi. We were excited by this shift, but we were soon to realize that the excitement would be short-lived.
Two years after moving to Kangemi, my mother died from meningitis. Life took a drastic turn and my sister and I had to move to my grandmother’s place in Dandora slum. I was only 10 at the time, but I felt the world was crashing down from all sides. My grandma used to work at a mzungu’s place in Muthaiga as a cook and we depended on her wages for survival.
Was she able to provide everything you needed?
It was hard for her and we survived on a meal a day since lunch and breakfast turned to be a luxury and we were always having rent issues for the small room we were living in. Her salary wouldn’t cater for all the expenses. I also remember my sister having to repeat classes in primary school because there was no money for her to join secondary school. Lastly, she decided to drop out of school while in class seven.
Where was your father as all this was happening?
I have never set my eyes on my father for as long as I can remember. I was told he passed away while I was a year old. Growing up without a dad was not a walk in the park especially in a slum environment. Luckily, our local church elders mentored me and ensured that I did not lose my way.
Then your grandmother moved upcountry...
Yes. She moved to Kitale after I sat my KCPE in 2009. I accompanied her and joined Friends Kongoni Secondary school in second term because we didn’t have fees to pay for first term. In form 2, I transferred to another school in Machakos. This is after my uncle decided to partly sponsor my education. Sometimes I would threaten the principal that I would report him to his bosses for sending me, an orphan, away from school. He later understood and we worked out how my fees would be catered for.
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Did your life become any better after high school?
It was not as I had envisioned. I started teaching computer lessons in private schools for a few coins to survive in the city, but the job did not last long because I didn’t have the right qualifications. After some time I decided to give videography a shot. Lucky for me, things have been working out well.
You currently run an organization targeting the slum community...
Yes, I started a video company dubbed ‘Sometimes in Life’. My goal is to give youth in slums a chance to produce music videos while telling their stories. This way, it will help keep them away from drugs and crime.
Do you still hang out with your childhood friends?
No, I had to choose better company. I remember two of my friends were gunned down by police for robbery while still in Dandora slum. It was traumatizing, but it also made me realize that I didn’t want to be influenced negatively, so I had to change.
What lessons have you learnt from your experiences?
I have come to learn that the behaviours of youth and children from slum areas are influenced by their environment. They need to be listened to and shown love. That itself is an important start to their wellbeing.