DAY 23 – Don't use your phone today; if you need to speak to someone, go find them or borrow a friend's phone to call them.

Even though 50% of Kenyans own cellular phones, many Kibera residents cannot afford them. Oral communication networks primarily rule the Kibera society, even with SMS use increasing among youth.  Logistical communications for such things as CFK soccer practices are primarily delivered verbally from coaches to youth coordinators who will then pass on messages to players and siblings for delivery to parents.  Kiberans often borrow the phones of friends and neighbors and give out that number as if it was their own requiring the cell phone owner to verbally deliver the message, which most are more than happy to do. Even as mobile phone use in Kenya continues to increase rapidly, there seems to be no substitute for old fashioned word-of-mouth communication – especially in a community like Kibera.

Challenge Reflection by Anna Rodenborough

While cell phones are becoming more commonplace in Kibera, there is never a guarantee that a person you need to contact a) has a phone b) has the phone with them and c) has credit to use on the phone. Therefore, if you need to speak to someone in Kibera, you often have to go on a wild goose chase. During my time in Kibera, I took many long and exciting journeys trying to find one person or another, just to ask a simple but important question. While Kibera occupies an area of about one square mile, I sometimes ended up walking miles and miles through back pathways only to never find a person and have to wait until the next day. Because Kibera is such a dynamic community, a person you want to speak to could be at their place, or at their sister’ s place, or at their friend’ s place, or at the store, or at work, or at a soccer match, or at the school, get the idea. In our world, in America, a person is always just a phone call, an email, a facebook message, or a tweet away. But this is not the case in Kibera and it can be extremely frustrating at times. Despite this, I often found that having to search for someone made an interaction more personal and even more worthwhile.

Discussion - Day 23

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  1. Posted September 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I will just say this was an extremely tough day. My teenage daughter bowed out and my boys were not phased by it. My husband and I on the other hand learned how dependent we are on those little handheld devices!!

  2. Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    Isolation- that word pretty much sums up how I felt under this challenge. I spent most of the day alone with my son and it was weird not being able to talk to my husband or my mom throughout the day. Let alone, I am an avid texter and kept my phone off throughout the day so that I would not be tempted. My landlord stopped over to fix our garbage disposal and I ended up borrowing her phone for a minute to ask my husband to pick up some chicken so I could make dinner later. It was a bit awkward having to borrow someone elses phone, but I was proud of myself for sticking to the challenge. When I turned my phone on the next morning- I had 5 missed calls and 11 text messages. I am sure that it is easier for the people in Kibera on a normal basis to go without a phone because the have learned to not rely on having one like we do. It really made me realize how attached I am to my phone.

  3. Posted September 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Teresa Lueck English. COMP. 1021-24 Century college
    Two sundays ago while watching the vikings game with friends i forgot my phone at home and i really needed to call my sister about something. so i asked a friend of mine if i could use theirs. It is really frustrating not having a phone on me when i need it and cannot live without it. but i know now how frustrating it can be to go a day without a phone.

  4. by PJoy
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    (No Cell phone use for a day) Sunday, February 26th I went the whole day without using a cell phone. I have to say it was peaceful. It is a very useful tool. I sometimes wonder how I ever grew up without one. Parents were much more in tune to what and whom we were socializing with. It’s another fluff to our society.