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Jeremy Onyango

My name is Jeremy Onyango and I am a mental health activist in kibera slum.  I use WhatsApp as a platform to create awareness around mental health.  I post questions about mental health on my status and get feedback and have discussions with people about it.  We talk about acceptance of mental health issues because many people are in denial.  They are afraid of being judged or having others use their story against them.  Kenyans don’t talk about mental health in their families.  I think we should be able to have these discussions with our families as early as possible.


Most of the mental health issues here in the slum revolve around the financial status of people.  For example, when our parents are not able to provide for us, they feel depression and anxiety because they think they are a failure.  They find it difficult to talk to us about what they’re going through.


When I see my parents struggle I feel the need to be able to fill in on what they are not able to do.  So, I take on jobs that are not well-paying, cause physical fatigue and give me stress.  When my stress levels increase I feel emotionally exhausted.


I am a student at St. Paul’s University and I am taking community development.  I decided to become a documentary photography because I am passionate about community development and mental well-being.  Photography is a tool I am able to use to speak without fear and compromise about any issue affecting the community.


Through this, I am able to reach a lot of people and create awareness about mental health through my pictures.


When I doing photography I feel like all the daily conversations in my mind are being put into a picture.  Photography helps me to forget me to forget about all the difficult things happening in my life.  Photography can change lives.  For instance, when you use photography to talk about issues like the homophobia, fgm and mental health, it is a story that will never be forgotten.  People will look at your work in the future and can relate to the story and that is an impact.