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Nick Kozak March 2, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Kenya.
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In the village of Makina, an informal settlement of Kibera. Nairobi 2014

Nick Kozak (b.1982, Kuwait) is a freelance photojournalist whose current work is focused on the issues of community and identity. He is the acting Photo Editor for the award winning iPad magazine, Wondereur. Nick’s work has been supported by the Toronto Arts Council and exhibited in Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Poland, Bangladesh, and the United States. His editorial clients include the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Report on Business Magazine, La Presse, The Grid, and Toronto Community News. He has had major commissioned projects with Facing History and Ourselves and the Atkinson Foundation, among others.

About the photograph:

“In this photograph from the village of Makina in the informal settlements of Kibera, a child stands near two men working; one is resurfacing a mud wall of a residential house, as the other looks on. The overwhelming majority of homes in Kibera are built of mud with corrugated tin roofs and a dirt or concrete floor. The work at this home involved digging up a little patch of land next to the house, mixing the earth with water, and applying it to the exterior walls. The work these men do is precarious and is usually secured by organizing together in groups. I would often run into groups of young men in the same areas standing or sitting, waiting, or performing some tasks. They would tell me they are hustling  which always meant they were either working or looking for work.”

“In 2013 I made my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa. Like many visitors to Kenya I was drawn to the informal settlements of Kibera (nearly half of Nairobi three million residents live in one of over sixty such neighbourhoods). Stepping into Kibera for the first time I was immediately fascinated by the ingenuity of its residents. Kiberans are masters at overcoming adversity through resourcefulness, creativity and by placing an unprecedented value on the role of community in individual survival. For a period of a month I spent almost every day in Kibera and connected with people through the Kibera Film School and I helped run mini workshops on photography. In 2014 I returned for a second month, in part thanks to a Toronto Arts Council Grant, which allowed me to further strengthen relationships. The conditions of poverty in Kibera prevent most Kiberans from attaining what people in developed countries would rate as acceptable standards of living but the disadvantages do not stop them. The energy, talent and ingenuity, of young people in Kibera, an environment that presents so many obstacles, especially inspires me.”