From street child in Nairobi to teacher in Hamburg | DW Documentary


Violence, fear, hunger and homelessness were daily obstacles for Philip Spenner who spent his youth on the streets of Nairobi. Today he teaches in Germany.

Philip Spenner’s story is a daunting but inspiring one. When he was nine years old, he was abandoned by his aunt on the streets of Nairobi. His life became a daily struggle for survival. He contemplated suicide several times. After several years alone on the street, Philip Spenner ended up in an orphanage. A donor from Hamburg made it possible for him to attend school. When he was 19, the donor brought him to Germany. Today Spenner is a teacher at a high school in Hamburg. For his young charges, though, he’s more than just a teacher – he’s their champion and friend. Spenner has become something of second father to one of his students, a teen of German-African descent who has been struggling to find his place in the world. Once a year, he visits the slums of Nairobi, where he has founded an organization that helps children from local villages attend school. For the children, most of whom live in extreme poverty, Spenner is a role model and also does his best to provide support to the orphanage where he lived for a number of years. As a teacher in Hamburg, Philip Spenner’s goal is to give hope and courage to any of his students who are struggling. He has the same message for his young charges in Germany and Nairobi: never give up.

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