When living on less than $2 a day, every choice you make is an important one. Will you pay your rent? Or school fees? What will you eat today? How much will it cost? To save money, most Kiberans only eat one meal a day. And even those who can only afford one meal often share with others who have even less. To stretch the budget, many meals are inexpensive and filling – most common is ugali (maize meal), sukuma wiki (collard greens) and beans. Most meals are not nutritionally balanced, and often don’t include meat because of the cost. Imagine working as a manual laborer, trying to concentrate during school, or practicing with your soccer team without any food in your stomach. Try it for a day.
"I tried to stick to Ali’s diet. Eating the same meals gave me a better sense of life in Kibera. Plus, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could actually do it. I was self-conscious about having grown up comfortably and wanted to prove that I could defy the stereotype of the soft, pampered middle-class kid.
Ali drank a cup of strong tea in the morning and then went all day until his first and last meal, which generally consisted of sukuma wiki and ugali. It was as if Ali fasted all year. For the first time in my life, I experienced insatiable hunger. My stomach ached for food when I was with Ali. The hunger was all-consuming, and I ashamedly gave up on Ali’s diet after two days."
P.63 of It Happened on the Way to War
At home, when I wake up I absolutely have to eat something to be able to focus throughout my day. Breakfast is not a luxury often seen in Kibera. In fact, neither is lunch. After a day of work the average Kibera household returns to their house for a big dinner. Once I woke up I could feel the hunger crawling at my stomach all the way until dinner. Hunger makes everything far harder and unsatisfying. Hungry is a terrible way to live.