On the 19th of March 2022, we stepped into our fellow Kenyan’s shoes when we visited the poor. Previously, we had our minds centered on ourselves. All the decisions we made…all the things we did…we did them with ourselves in mind. We complained for things that we thought were unfair. That I thought were unfair.
We left Hodari boys club at nine ‘o’ clock in the morning and went to the Naivas just across the road. There, with the donation money we had been collecting over the weekends, and from some parents, we bought some foodstuffs for the families we were to help. After buying the goods, we hit the road, headed for the Eastlands College of Technology. There, we took a short tour of the institution, discovered new ways of drawing perfect circles etc….as we waited for our guide, Muthaka, who would lead the way.
When we arrived, we took the bags and started walking to Sinai slums, sweets filling all our pockets, for any children we were to meet along the way.
It was abrupt. The change from the society we were used to, to the society everyone neglected, stuck out like a sore thumb. The living spaces were too close for comfort, small sewers riddled the walking places and the smell rose to heaven high. How these people live here remains a mystery for us. The stark contrast got us wondering how it happened in the first place. The main speculation going around was the neglecting politicians, failing to do their job, only doing things for their own gain.
We first visited a family who had had their home burned. I was confused and a little hurt at first when a lady selling tomatoes questioned our presence passive aggressively. I soon, however, realised that she was trying her best to not sound uninviting, but it was obvious she didn’t like that we were there only to help a few people. She claimed the fire had affected her too. As our guide gave her a few clothes for her daughter, a lady nearby explained us that if we stayed there, we would end up helping everyone we came, so she showed us where the first family was.
When we went inside, we had our first view of their living space. It wasn’t much to look at. There was obviously not enough space for the people living there, but they still managed. The mother of the house, now a grandmother, was happy to see us. Of course, we could still see the pain in all their eyes. We introduced ourselves, rather, fumbled through our Swahili to get a hold of our names and age and Schools we attend etc. Something I hope we perfected, as we had to twist our tongues again, repeat the same presentation in successive visits. The family were obviously joyed by our efforts, as they couldn’t contain their glee… And so, we gave them some clothes and a bag of flour, rice and sugar. After greeting the four children and the woman’s grandson, who was a few months old, we left for the next house.
The next family was one that had been affected by the fire but had moved to a new place, not so far from the burned homes. A high placed kibanda with a steep, narrow staircase opening to a cramped passageway. Therein, Mama Junior had a two-week-old baby boy, and was struggling to make ends meet for the both of them. She was the saddest of the people we visited. She was very quiet, and you could see the worry written on her face. When we gave her the goods, she was, of course, very grateful, but it was easy to tell that she didn’t like being in this situation, where she needed help from others. We said a prayer with her and left for the next house.
The third woman, Mama Shiro, was a mother of four children, ranging from a form two all the way to a one year old. She was more outgoing than those we previously visited and was very pleased when we gave her the bag of goods. We prayed for her family and left with the remaining clothes to a children’s home, started by a caring person we never had the pleasure of meeting.
Inside the four rooms she had rented, there were in each, cooking utensils, a Koko stove, a small table and a bunker bed. Since she wasn’t there, we left the remaining shoes and clothes in one of the rooms. We were told that up to 12 people could stay in each of those tiny rooms.
Finally, we left for the last family. A lady called Lynette. She was the most open of them all. She told us that she had lost her father, Nemuel, to sickness. She had spent almost all her money on hospital fees and was now struggling to start business. She was thankful to the support she received from Eastlands College of Technology and reminisced gratefuly a visit she had by some of the College Staff. When we gave her the goods, she hid her face behind her hands, trying to hide the tears. A mixture of sadness and happiness. A mix of seasons. She prayed for us and we left to a nearby church to take a picture with the children around. There, not surprisingly, we also exhausted our supply sweets.
Jerry, who felt generous, decided to buy more sweets for distribution. Peter, who saw more potential from him than just buying sweets, suggested that he buy a bag of flour too. Eventually, he bought enough to feed the a family for a couple of weeks. This flour, we took to a woman named Mama Sharon, as suggested by the ever so grateful shopkeeper, Margaret.
When we arrived, we found Mama Sharon packing some njugu in plastic papers for sale on the road. She explained that she was trying her best, but her business hadn’t yet kicked off. She was extremely thankful for the gift given to her. After leading us in prayer, we left to the van. On the way to the van, Peter walked to me and asked me what I thought.
Having just seen a lot, and trying to process my feelings about it, I could not give a proper answer. However, now, after replaying the day in my head to write this, I’ve realized something. Our world…our country…is separated. We as citizens are supposed to be one, but we are all experiencing different seasons.
The gap between the rich and the poor is big, and is constantly getting bigger, what with current situations. The people in power, of course, are partly to blame. However, we cannot truly pinpoint the real problem. The cause why these people…fellow human beings, fellow citizens…have to suffer as such.
However, we can’t point fingers ourselves, while sitting down. We all have to take part in making their lives better.
I look forward to the day that the citizens of Kenya, and other countries, leaders and citizens alike hold hands to support the weak in our society. Then children like Junior could have a better life.
Article By: Albert Magu.