This is the first time in my life that I have felt like I was truly giving back because I have not been doing it out of obligation but from a sincere and genuine place.I have learnt so many things and that’s what I’d like to share in this post.
The first place I had the privilege of visiting this year courtesy of the Young Catholic Adults was The Nest Home in Limuru which commits children who are traumatized after experiencing crime or abuse and the arrest of and separation from their mothers. Upon arriving we were directed to what we learnt was their hall/T.V room and given a background of the home and what some of the kids had gone through. The kids were then gathered so that we could get to meet them and by their smiles they were so thrilled and excited to see us. After some games they were asked to pick someone from the group who they felt they liked at first glance and take them around the home. The joy in their little faces as they showed us where they slept, their clothes and even their toothbrushes is inexplicable.
I think that is why we are asked to be childlike. Kids are oblivious to what is happening which in this case is a good thing. After all the hardships these little souls have gone through by the grace of God they somehow choose not to dwell on the bad experiences but rather the little things that are right in front of them. The new faces that pay them a visit, the interactions and games and the treats. If we decided not to worry about the things that happened in the past, a future that never turns out as planned and what people thought of us we would be able to find joy in the little things. Your childhood is over but that doesn’t mean that play time is so go on and bring out the “child” in you.
A few weeks later we paid Olivia a visit. When I heard her story that’s when the memory of seeing her grandmother taking the hospital at 6.00 a.m came back. If I am not mistaken I was around 10 years and they used the same matatu I used to go to school. She is above 18 years now but she cannot walk, talk, feed or even bathe herself. One side of her body grows more than the other. Her mother passed away when she was young and her grandmother is the only person she has in this world. She has the most infectious laugh I’ve ever heard. Her grandmother left farming to take care of her because of an incident where she left her with a cousin and she choked on food because Olivia is a slow eater and the cousin was not patient enough. They have a small back garden and that’s where they grow their food. The love that this woman has for her granddaughter is none like I have seen before. As she was narrating her story I tried to put myself in her shoes and as hard as it is to admit, I don’t think that I have that much love to give. The more I thought about it the more I felt like it was her gift, to love unconditionally. To love without limitations or conditions.
The most recent visit was to Kamiti Youth Correction and Training Centre & Kamae Girls’ Borstal Institution. Most of the girls and boys are between the ages of 14-18 years and have been incarcerated for crimes such as robbery with violence, drug trafficking, ferrying of guns and defilement. When we first go there I felt like I was in high school and it’s not until they started sharing their stories that it dawned on me that I was in prison. Most of the cases are all tied to poverty and it’s heartbreaking. According to them there are no jobs and crime is the easy way out. A good example is a boy who stole Kshs. 5,000 from an Mpesa shop to help his mum out with his sister school fees. Something important was brought to my attention that day, we are at times victims of people, places or circumstances. DON’T JUDGE someone because their shortcomings are exposed. In the words of Terentius Lucanus “We are all humans beings and nothing alien to us.” We are are all capable of both the good and bad and if a human being does something know that you have it in you to do the same. That however doesn’t change the fact that at the end of the day we are all children of God.
If we’d learn to take a few minutes everyday to look around and be grateful we’d learn that we are truly blessed.