Kristen Maryn

Kristen Maryn (Hakijamii the Economics and Social Rights Centre): Kristen received her BS in Business Administration and BA in Sociology from the University of Arizona in 2007. Upon graduating, she traveled to Nigeria to work with a micro-finance program. After returning from Nigeria, Kristen worked in corporate management. At the time of her fellowship, Kristen was pursuing her JD at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, with a focus on migration, conflict amelioration, and alternative dispute resolution. After her fellowship Kristen wrote: “This fellowship reiterated my goal of getting to a place where I do not need to sit back and wait for someone to help me in order to get things done. I really enjoyed being part of a network that was small enough that it felt like a family, but had a global reach.”

Trains and Things

30 Aug

After a few of my trips to Kibera, I had a meeting with the Executive Director of Pamoja Trust.  The venue was at the Pamoja office, a large, nice house – a stark contrast to the realities of the community set to be disrupted by the Relocation Action Plan.

The meeting was what I expected.  I walked away with some greater understanding of some aspects of the plan, while some of my questions set the Director in a defensive posture.  In general, it was nice to get a varied point of view, as the elusive Pamoja Trust is so entrenched in this process.

I do think that the RAP is workable; though I know involuntary resettlement is not ideal for the community.  The problem is, this development project is going to happen regardless.  The Government is set on their Kenya Vision 2030, and improved railroad infrastructure is a large component of that…they want increased freight, they want faster transit times, they want a light commuter rail.  And although after seven years of waiting, it may seem like the community is calling KRC’s bluff, my impression is that it is inevitable.  So why not try to get the most out of the resettlement as possible?

It seems like the Kibera option is not too shabby.  The people will be resettled in a three-story structure built along a wall, 20 meters out from the track.  While they will have less space in terms of meters, they will have more dependable shelter, facilities, and a better walkway.  Granted, there are still some glaring holes in the plan, such as funding, specifications, and in particular, what will happen to the schools and children.  If the communities can focus on the aspects that were glossed over, I think they can really leverage the Government and KRC to get a favorable situation.

When my host in Kenya came back from leave, he told me he had heard an interview with a Project Affected Person on the BBC.  So after some research, I found the BBC has run a few articles about the railroad expansion, here and here.  I must thank my host for catching my slack.  🙂

Additionally, one of my last times in Kibera before the violence, I was able to capture a really really short (we’re talking two cars and an engine) train rumbling through. On my train ride from Chicago to Wisconsin, I was looking at my content and I wished I could have gathered more footage from the area, mainly of the people and of the interactions between the community and the trains, but that will be a job for the next fellow…my advice: Start forging the relationships early!

But here is the 5-second video of a train in Kibera-Kisumu Ndogo.


Posted By Kristen Maryn

Posted Aug 30th, 2011

1 Comment

  • Christy Gillmore

    August 31, 2011


    This is really good work, meeting with the ED of Pamoja Trust. I wonder if he had ever been questioned like that about the railway project by an outsider. Louis and I tried hard to get footage of a train going by and couldn’t, so kudos!

    Looks like you’ve done a lot of good research that Hakijamii and the railway dwellers can use to ensure they receive a realistic and adequate resettlement package.

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