My name is Eunice Akoth. I am 12 years old and am from Kibera, Kenya, which is one of Africa's largest urban slums. Some estimate that as many as 1 million people live in an area the size of Central Park.

My poem was featured by A Path Appears, and I'm currently in NYC where I presented at the "Women in the World Summit." (link to a NYT article). This is my first time outside of Kenya, and I've seen many new things this past week.

I am here with the SHOFCO team, which is the organization that runs the Kibera School for Girls back home. I'm not very quick at typing, so my friend from SHOFCO will type my answers.

Editorial note, any of my clarifications will be in italics.

Please, ask me anything about my life in Kibera, my dreams, or anything else.


Comments: 75 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

bhalp123 karma

What do you expect to learn from your trip to America and New York City?

What has surprised you the most about the trip so far?

shofco49 karma

I was especially excited to present my poem to people! I was surprised that people talk to their dogs here. The hairstyles here are so interesting. The food here is very different too. I love Mexican food!

renwickveleros14 karma

People don't talk to dogs in Kenya? How do they train them? Are they not kept as pets there?

shofco72 karma

We don't have pets in Kibera...the dogs and cats are loose and don't have homes. They dig through the trash for food and sometimes people feed them. Many are sick and it is hard to take care of them. Some are scary and mean. At school we have a nice dog that has many puppies, but she does not have a home. She is cute but she is wild. In America, the animals walk around with sweaters and shoes and are not hungry. People treat the dogs like friends and talk to them.

skizethelimit20 karma

Hi Eunice, I loved your poem! 2 questions...I am a teacher. May I use your poem as a model in my class's poetry unit? Not only is the poem beautiful, but your presentation was lovely! Second question--what is 5th grade like at your school? What sorts of equipment/supplies do you have in the class? Congratulations on your efforts and best of luck to you!

shofco23 karma

I would love it if you used my poem. I wrote it to inspire people around the world!

We have desks, chairs, a chalkboard. We have charts on the walls. A clock. Book shelves. We don't have computers or a tv. The classroom is very colorful. Teachers tell us to ask many questions and tell them our ideas.

mehughes12414 karma

Hi Eunice! Welcome to the United States! Thanks for taking the time to come talk with us.

You're a very confident public speaker. Where did you learn to speak so eloquently and passionately in front of large crowds like that?

Do you have a role model?

What's been your favorite moment in your visit to New York so far?

shofco27 karma

Hi! I learned how to speak to crowds at our journalism club at school. I go to an all-girls school and we meet after school with teachers to learn how to speak publicly about important issues. Twice a week we present to the school assembly about topics in Kibera and we debate and present our ideas.

Jeff Koinange, MLK, Mandela, my teachers, and Jess and Kennedy are my heroes.

My favorite part of my visit was presenting my poem!

mehughes1245 karma

Well your favorite part was my favorite part! I liked your poem very much.

Do you think you'd like to work in journalism?

What kind of topics do you debate about?

shofco20 karma

I used to want to be a doctor and now because of journalism club, I want to be a journalist. I met a journalist here named Nick and he told me I would be a great journalist and gave me a notebook to write in.

We debate about topics about Kibera like crime, women's rights, and education. We talk about these things at school so much. I helps us to talk about our lives and to talk in front of people.

BrightenthatIdea13 karma

How can we help you, when you get back home?

shofco20 karma

We always need more books at school and we have sponsors who support us at school. Tell people about my poem and Kibera so people will know about us!

check out for more info about Eunice's school

guitar_worshipper12 karma

How would you explain USA to your friends and family back in Kibera?

shofco19 karma

It is very big and there are a lot of people. There are a lot of different kinds of people and foods. People are very nice and have been excited to meet me. I like the US very much and they should go!

hoaka11 karma

Hi Eunice! Loved your video :). What's the best food you've eaten so far in America, and what is the worst?

shofco30 karma

The best food was Mexican food and the worst are salad and sushi. I hate cucumber.

hoaka8 karma

Nice! Did you eat raw fish sushi? Which Mexican food was your favorite?

shofco16 karma

I was scared to eat the sushi because it was so weird so I tried the one with cucumber and it was so gross! I loved the guacamole and they made it at our table! The rice and beans tasted so good. It is like Kenyan food so it tasted like home.

hoaka5 karma

Yes! Salsa (Pico de Gallo) is just like Kachumbari, and Chapti's are like tortillas. :)

shofco12 karma

Yes! And guacamole was weird but I liked it so much.

WhiskeyJune8 karma

Wow. First thing, thank you for coming and blessing us with your words and presence. You are one of the amazing people that have the power to change the world. I wish I could hug you through the space of the Internet 😊 My questions are: What do want to be when you grow up? And Other than the Summit, what else are you going to do during your time here?

shofco10 karma

Thank you! You are nice. I want to be a journalist when I grow up and I will travel the world and write about important stories.

I went to the MM store, Empire State Building. I took a tour of a tv studio and performed my poem! I toured the government in Washington DC. I am eating a lot of ice cream. I eat pizza too but it is not my favorite. I am visiting schools to tell them about Kibera and our school and hopefully we can come to some of these schools when we graduation from the Kibera School for Girls.

esbu7 karma

Hey Eunice!!!

Loved your speech very inspiring!!!

My girlfriend and older brothers girlfriend are both involved with SHOFCO and they love working with an organization that does so much good. Can you talk about what your life would be like if the Kibera School for Girls did not exist?

shofco37 karma

Boys are educated more than the girls in Kibera, so many of us would not be in school if the Kibera School for Girls was not here. We also go to the doctor at school and have journalism club. We eat at school two times a day and many girls do not get food at home. My mum volunteers at school and she likes that and she talks to parents if their girls don't come to school. I would not be in the US without school. I would not have my poem. We learn guitar at school and do yoga and I would not have this good life without school. I learn to follow my dreams at school.

Smuckinfartass6 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! You seem like a very bright young lady, and I'm sure you have a very bright future.

What about life in such a dense slum would surprise us westerners? Focus on the good, if possible.

shofco22 karma

I like being here! Thank you for saying these nice things.

I think people think that Kibera is a sad place and it is a hard place to live but it is a happy place! There is always music and people are talking and laughing to each other. I know many people and have many friends. We have many problems but my school and my family are nice. People in Kibera have shops and do business. Many women have power and do work. I walk in Kibera and feel happy because people are often happy! I think some people think we are all sad and have too many problems, but that is not always true!

_wildstrawberries6 karma

What are your favorite books and favorite authors?

shofco23 karma

My favorite book is Matilda! I love that she read all the books when she's a girl and she uses her eyes to move things.

Skyzo765 karma

What do you want to do when you will be older ? What do you want to bring back from NYC to your friends and family at Kibera?

shofco10 karma

I want to be a journalist when I grow up. I used to want to be a doctor, but journalism club taught me that I love to speak and write about my ideas and about the world. Jeff Koinange is my hero because he travels the world and tells stories. I want to do that.

I will bring back NYC souvenirs for my family, but I don't have them yet. For the girls at school we got a lot of pencils today that we can use at school to write. Nicholas Kristof gave me a journal too and I will take that home with me!

a3rospace4 karma

What's your favorite food from the states thus far?

shofco9 karma

I like Mexican food but I am also eating vanilla ice cream right now and that is also my favorite American food!

gizzardgullet3 karma

Would you like to live in the US some day?

shofco7 karma

I want to live in the US maybe for school or after school. I can do so many things here and I can follow my dreams more easily!

dac2993 karma

Hi Eunice! You did such a great job at the Summit and you are an inspiration to us all!

My question to you is - I want to eventually visit Kenya but am not sure what I should see. What would you recommend?

shofco3 karma

Thank you! I visited Mombasa for a music festival and I had so much fun. I have heard the Mara has so many animals and you could go there and see them. I hear it is so fun! The beaches in Kenya are warm and fun! Kibera is warm and nice to visit.

mrv143 karma

Hi Eunice,

I am very impressed by your courage and strength! I know from Kennedy Odede that hopelessness is one of the biggest challenges in Kibera. What nourishes your hope? And do you have a specific strategy for holding on to your hope, positivity and dreams when things get difficult?

shofco8 karma

We feel so much hope at school. Life is hard but we feel happy that we can follow our dreams at school and help our families. When I feel sad I think about my poem and I feel better. Our teachers always tell us to be strong and hope for our futures.

square--one3 karma

Hey Eunice! If you could visit any place in the world, where would you like to go?

shofco8 karma

I want to go all over the world! I can't pick one place. Coming to New York was my dream and now I want to go all over.

_wildstrawberries3 karma

Can you tell us about your education? What subject do you like the most?

shofco9 karma

My school is the best! We are all girls and we have uniforms that are red sweaters and blue skirts. We learn a blue building and we have a lot of work every day at school. We read many story books at the library and we have after school things every day. We learn guitar and recorder. I am in journalism club. I am one of the oldest at school and we even have babies at school! Our moms work at school and make us all lunch. We eat together and then we play on top of the school or in front of it. Our teachers want us to ask many questions and to talk about our dreams. My favorite subject at school is maths. I like writing also but I am very good in maths.

JJest3 karma

Hi, Eunice! It's nice to meet you, and welcome to the United States!

My question is: what's your favorite subject in school, and do you plan to continue writing?

Thanks for the AMA, and I hope you have a nice day, trip, and life. :-)

shofco7 karma

Hi Jon! I like maths so much. I am very good at maths! I want to keep writing more poems that will inspire people and I want to also write stories as a journalist when I grow up!

NBeKind3 karma

Hey Eunice!! It is so exciting to hear from you. I've got two questions: 1. What is the most fun thing you've done while you've been in the US? 2. What is the most fun thing to do when you're at home?

shofco3 karma

I love going to all of the candy stores in New York! I also learned how to play Candy Crush and I like that very much. Being on top of tall buildings and meeting all of these nice people has been so fun!

At home I love to be at school, play with my friends, read story books at the library. We dance a lot at school and we debate and act in many plays!

dhammachi2 karma

Why are the best marathoners Kenyans?

What are your favorite foods?

What is your daily schedule like at home?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Thanks for the AMA.

shofco12 karma

Not everyone in Kenya runs fast but I think there are people in one tribe who naturally run a lot and very fast and they win many races around the world. We like when Kenyans win races!

My favorite food is ugali and in America I like Mexican food and ice cream!

I wake up very early to get ready for school and to walk to school. We learn all day at school, eat lunch, and play. We have after school every day and sometimes we play music or do journalism club and it is so fun! After school I do my homework and spend time with my family and help my parents at home. I teach them English and we speak Kiswahili at home.

I want to be a journalist when I grow up! I want to travel the world and tell people's stories.

Zockman175-5 karma

How smart are you?

shofco16 karma

I do well in school and I am very smart!