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Something completely different

James Esses was one of the debates-winning students that travelled to Kenya with Concern. During the trip, James and the other Irish students witnessed the devastating poverty in Nairobi’s slums.

They also visited schools where they met – and debated – with Kenyan students their own age.

The trip to Kenya, James says, “was completely different to anything I had pictured in my mind.”

Visiting schools

James recounts his experiences:

“My favourite bit has to be when we visited the various schools. We saw the vast difference between a poor school in the slums and a high-performance school. “It was very interesting to speak to the children themselves about their lives. We got to see what they thought of Kenya and the way they lived. Also highly entertaining were the few mini-debates we had with the schools along the way. We lost every single one of them!

Entrepreneurs with ambition

“The most surprising thing in Kenya was that people in the slums weren't actually sitting around feeling sorry for themselves as you might expect. They all seemed content with their lives and were trying to make the most of it.

“This was especially true of the few ‘young entrepreneurs’ we saw. They had just set up their own hair salon. Seeing these young people with so much ambition really struck me.


“One thing did affect me in a negative way though. The UN claims to be giving a lot of money to the slums, but in fact its work is so spread out that it doesn't seem to make a real difference.

Real change

“This showed me that everyone needs to play a bigger role in helping people less fortunate than us if any real change is going to happen.”