Talent Scouting the Slums

Kent Shaffer —  March 8, 2010

Compassion International

Today I met 14 year old Nelson Juma Dbongo of the Mathare Slums. He wants to be a journalist and an actor.

He has what it takes. In his free time, he goes to the library to read and learn how to improve his writing composition. He has already written 8 comedies and a few dramas on tough topics like AIDS and drug abuse. Since 2001, Compassion International’s Mathare Community Outreach has made this possible. It takes him 30 minutes to get there (or 1 hour if he walks slowly).


Nelson wants to attend university, hopefully in America. He wants to be a successful actor and journalist so that he can help the poor and the sick. He offers this wisdom:

If you have money, you can’t just keep it for you alone. You share with the poor people what you have.

Nelson says that many kids in the Mathare Slums are unhappy, have bad habits, and don’t go to school. But he says that you can help by praying for them, visiting them, and sponsoring them. Nelson is very grateful for his sponsor, Kevin.

Compassion International


I hope Nelson does attend university. His speaking ability, poise, and confidence stunned me! I hope to one day see him in movies. He is a good performer and will only get better (college talent scouts should snatch him up!). You just have to see it for yourself:

The video doesn’t do his performance justice. His eye contact and engagement was amazing!


He hasn’t always had the opportunity to read, write, and practice his gifts. By age 4, both of Nelson’s parents were dead from disease. His brother George (who was 14yo at the time) has raised Nelson and his other three siblings for the past 10 years. As a baby, Nelson was diagnosed with a heart problem, so he can’t play soccer with his friends. But he can act and joke with friends, particularly his best friend, Charles.

Becoming a sponsor of a child like Nelson is easy, simply visit Compassion.com and sign up.

Compassion International

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

3 responses to Talent Scouting the Slums

  1. I’m a Child Advocate for Compassion and have enjoyed all the posts from the Kenya Bloggers this week. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly and beautifully about these precious kids. It’s made a big impact on me.

  2. Just read through all your Kenya posts, the photos and videos are powerful. Seeing the realities of slum life juxtaposed with Owen’s smile shows how one person really can help. We can’t save everyone but we can bring love and happiness into their lives.

    Kinda strange to go party at SXSW after viewing the sobering images…

  3. Maureen Anyango Owino March 23, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Nelson’s face tell it all. He has hope for the future. He is a good actor. Thanx to compassion for enabling Nelson to have a dream for the future and helping him achieve his dreams and vision.

    Kent thanx too for the amazing work u r doing, i enjoy reading your blog.