GUEST COLUMN: One man's trash is another man's treasure

Phoenix Catao
Families make their homes in this dump site. [SPECIAL TO THE LOG]

What appears to be a pile of trash is actually home to one of the more than 100 families that live within the Nakuru City Dump in Kenya. With Hakima Ministries, formerly known as Destiny Worship Center Kenya, we had the opportunity to walk through a part of the dump, visit one of the many homes within the dumpsite and visit a nearby nursery school. Others on the trip from Destin are Samantha Page, Alex Page and Kelly Phillipson and from Navarre, Tyler Vanlandingham.

During our time there I witnessed many of the adults sitting on the piles of trash. I learned that they typically spend their days waiting for the next garbage truck to arrive so they can scavenge through its contents. While many of our immediate reactions are to feel sympathy for these people, I do not want to undermine how incredibly resourceful these individuals are.

The women take tape from old cassettes and VHS’s and use crochet needles to make bags, they use aluminum and zippers off of clothing and other things to make items that they can sell, such as small coin purses. There's also an area where the people collect plastic with the intentions of taking it into Nakuru town to recycle it for a small payoff. While they may be limited, they are extremely inventive with the things that they do have.

During our visit we also had the opportunity to visit Tumami Nursery School, otherwise known as preschool, where many of the young children from the dump attend. This school is such an incredible place that these children can go and learn and is located just down the hill from one of the entrances to the dump. The head teacher and faculty were so welcoming, and the children were so full of love. We were able to play outside with them during their break and they just wanted to jump around and give hugs. Their smiles were contagious, simply radiating joy. It is a true blessing that these children have a place to go to school.

These families livelihood is dependent upon the dumpsite — their food, clothing and shelter, all comes from the garbage. And although we only scratched the surface of the Nakuru City Dump, an experience such as this, gives a person a whole new sense of appreciation and shows just how often we take things for granted.

It is a sad reality, but there are dumpsites all over the world where people live. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet the people and children of the Nakuru City Dump, and they will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Phoenix Catao from Destin is a graduate of Florida State University. She is now on a summer mission trip to Kenya with Hakima Ministries on the Soysambu Conservancy.