I don’t know about you but I can shed tears very easily. Very very easily. I will cry over every movie that is good enough. I will cry when a child sings a song in church or in Sunday school and does not even know the words but keeps on singing very joyfully. I will cry when I see someone in pain or difficult situation. Like a few days ago when friends of our family lost a beloved daughter. I sat at their living room listening to the stories from her friends and family and just couldn’t hold back my tears. I had a headache that night.
This Sunday, I found myself crying on a Metrotrans bus. We were just making that turn around Globe roundabout (can I still call it that?) and I saw him. I saw the little boy coiled into a ball near the huge metal pipe that straddles the Nairobi river. Now that I think about it, I am not sure he was near or on top of it. He was deep asleep, with a very dirty jacket covering his torso and head. He was barefoot. A sudden wave of emotion washed over me as we made the turn and I looked back. I made a deliberate effort to look at that boy again and then look around for more like him. And there were more. And I imagined the only reason he was asleep during the day was because it was the only time he could do so.
I just sat there and let the tears flow, stopping them with my fingers, avoiding every sort of eye contact with anyone. I felt a strange loathing for myself. Why was this the first time I was really taking note of these poor kids? It’s not like I did not know they existed or had not seen them before. Was I so locked up in my own little world that I had forgotten what really goes on beyond myself? Had I degenerated into the kind of person who always blames the government for these things? Why was I even crying? How was that helping anyone? So a while later, I went on a Google search, to see what was the fastest way I could make those kids lives a little bit better. I stumbled upon this piece on last year’s Daily Nation. This selfless lady who would buy those kids food with her pocket money. I found her number in the comments and called her. She didn’t pick up. I texted. To cut the long story short, she called back the next day. The next day after this i.e. today, I found myself in Ngara, mingling with street families.
Mercy is an amazing lady, two years my junior but able to control a group of teenagers, high as kites on gum, who can get rowdy over food. In about two hours, we had fed them, listened to them rap and sing (man these kids are talented) and tell stories. This happened at a room in a little slum tucked away behind the Indian like houses. Later, we met the women at the roundabout with their kids. With more stories. There were two elder women who seem to run to seperate camps under that bridge. The younger ones ladies all had kids. Very neat kids if I might add, well-protected from the recent cold Nairobi weather. At night they go into Nairobi and sleep on the cement. At some point I was thinking I couldn’t make it through the session, without either breaking down or thinking I was going to be mugged by someone, but in the end, I forgot about my worries and blended. This is despite one of the older, 29 year-old guys telling me how he steals at night to make do. And that he would do anything to get a job. But he’s kinda picky. On the way back to town, we bumped into a guy Mercy calls an “alumnus”. He’s hurrying up the hill with his trolley, a job calls. Mercy and crew bought him that trolley. 🙂 Mercy and crew also arrange for the younger ones to go back home and school where possible.
I might not have the courage to approach random people like Mercy does, but I have made up my mind to be a part of this. It’s funny how we ended up relating like we’d known each other for ages. It still feels very surreal to me. You know, we cannot always change the whole world, but we can start with what’s right in front of our noses. I know at times I am even scared of street families because I have heard the most horrific stories about them, especially the older guys, but in the end, it’s probably because we do not treat them right. So instead of sitting, waiting and crying, I am doing something now. That does not mean I am not being careful though. If I had smelt the slightest whiff of strangeness from this arrangement, I’d have fled. I also know there are many other things to be done for the less privileged; long-lasting things. For now, we do what we can. I also know there are as many of us out here who can do something. Let us not just be about tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming and blogging our middle class out of existence. Think beyond you and your family’s well-being. Yes, you are making a lives better at your workplace, but you’re getting paid for it. Think about that. I thought about it.
I will now preach kidogo through two favourite dudes of mine. And of course, the Bible. This post really came to be after I read 1 Corinthians 12:21-26. You probably know it.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
As Flame aptly puts it while drawing from these verses: “So if one member suffers, we suffer across the globe… So we must kill all individual talk. We’re all necessary visible invisible parts. So being in isolation only leads to more of sin.” ~ Hold On – Flame, Our World Redeemed.
Last but definitely not least, the very inspiration for the title, way before I made this random move:
Matthew West – Do Something, Into the Light
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something
God bless you all this long weekend! Happy Madaraka Day!