St. Lawrence University’s public health course and conservation media course joined together to visit Kibera, Africa’s largest slum. An estimated one million people inhabit 250 hectares on the edge of Nairobi – an area the size of New York’s Central Park – only walls topped with broken bottles and barbed wire separating them from the surrounding middle-class housing and green agricultural lands lush from this year’s heavy rains. Contained, Kibera is a sloped sea of corrugated metal roofing linking one home to the next. The rusty roofs blend with the red earth.

The staff of SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) greet us. Their crisp white t-shirts and matching baseball caps are emblazoned with an explanation: Solar Water Disinfection, and in parenthesis, SODIS. Tibu Maji kwa Miale ya Jua.  A bright yellow sun shines upon plastic bottles filled with clean blue water. The premise they’re promoting is simple. Fill a clear plastic bottle with water. Place in the sun for six hours in the middle of the day. Longer if it’s cloudy. UV light kills much of the bacteria that causes diarrhea, the leading cause of death in children who live in the developing world. To educate people, SODIS goes door-to-door, meet children’s and women’s groups, visit schools, and attend soccer games, teaching people how to at least partially treat water, especially for consumption by kids five and under. Little habits such as keeping soap in the house and washing hands after using the toilet get woven in. We got to visit school groups, a biogas toilet/shower facility and see inside the homes of several residents.

After Kibera, the Conservation Media group peels off from the public health group and heads to Lake Naivasha, a little over an hour’s drive from the city, but a whole world apart. We arrive to a bit of rain at sundown, and are welcomed to the Elsamere Field Centre with a warning to have an askari (guard) escort us to our rooms, since the hippos emerge from the lake at night to graze on the grass among the buildings!