08 June 2011

a little love goes a long way

You see them all the time. Both young and old, idling the hours away. They do nothing in particular, but sit around in groups. They talk about nothing and everything. You get a feeling that they are tight with one another. Their sense of unity is amazing and almost enviable. But all for the wrong reasons.
I have seen them in the estates, around bus stops too. Groups of young and not so young sitting around taking alcohol and God knows what else. The constant supply of cheap liquor serves to ensure that all of them are intoxicated. It does not help that one can walk into a supermarket or cheap liquor joint and purchase a bottle of the stuff. Anything to keep them high will work even if it helps damage the liver as well.
These are our brothers, our fathers and sons. Maybe daughters as well.
It makes me wonder what goes on in the mind of these people. How, do you throw your life away like that? While I realize that for some it is a sickness, i also believe that for most it is an acquired habit. To escape reality perhaps? Yes the economy is bad, there are no jobs, family life is stressful enough. But there must be another way of dealing with these issues. Someone needs to believe in these people enough to offer help and alternative ways of coping with issues in their lives. That kind of backup is what we need.  A place where one can walk in, pour out stuff going on in their life and get direction on ways to deal with it. I support Dr njenga when he said that  there is need for counselling especially in the police force. He knows the extent that a human mind can cope especially with trauma. And looking around, there is enough of that. And evidently not just in the police force. It is just about everywhere.
Given, most people face one issue or another. But some do not have the coping mechanism needed to deal with every day pressure. Be it work related, family or else. And these are the people who need help so that they can learn to move on even when life deals them lemons. And it will. It calls for those who deal with such issues to diversify. Maybe come down to the level of that ordinary man/woman who is not able to cope with the loss of a job or the death of a spouse. And seeks solace in alcohol. As it is we are not taking mental health seriously enough. Depression sounds so ordinary but unmanaged could lead to more dire issues. The breakdown of the African set up where by an issue faced by one individual was considered a community responsibility is showing face. And so there is need to supplement that in this  modern life where we are too busy for one another and the most we can offer is facebook chat and endless tweets. No personal touch. It is therapy in itself to offload excess baggage to a willing listener, even more consoling when there is that personal touch. Even pastors are overwhelmed.
And so the need for action is real. Whether the Government is involved or not. Maybe those who understand the magnitude of the problem need to take action. Dr Frank njenga sounded the alarm. And the manifestations of that alarm are now with us. Facing us straight in the face. Daring us to make a change.

07 June 2011

Suffer ye little children


It's in the news today. Several people (seven to be precise) have died in Turkana from hunger. My first reaction on reading this was sheer sympathy. From there, begun the visualization of the whole scenario in Turkana in my mind. Picture this.
It is a typical day in Turkana. A mother wakes up early in the morning to the cries of her children. They are crying for food. She gives her husband a hopeless nudge to wake him up. He looks back at her helplessly, and urges her to go and attend to the kids. But what can she do? They have all tried to survive on the little food that they could get. Even the wild fruits that they have to scramble for with the entire village are barely left. With their only wealth of the cattle dead due to the drought in kenya, little hope is left for this family and the entire county. Unless, of course the Government comes to their aid.
Few can identify with the hopelessness such a mother must endure at such a time. Food is a most basic need, something that ordinarily should not be such a huge problem. I have seen some arid places of this country green with food crops from irrigation schemes initiated by the Government. Such people can have an all-year supply of food if such projects were well coordinated and the people educated on growing crops as an alternative source of food.
But first things first. Back to this family. The children are crying now, with the little one beginning to sound too weak from the biting hunger. What can a mother do in this case? She picks up the little one, gently rocking him in her arms too frail from continuous hunger and does the only thing left for a mother to do. She stuffs a fallen breast into his mouth. Empty. Such are the pictures that are captured on the pages of the world's dailies. Pictures of Kenya. He is quiet for a while as he tries to get sustenance nature's way. But he soon realises that even nature is not too kind to him this time round. And the wailing resumes albeit more like whimpering.
We read of such stories all the time. And watch them on the television. Momentarily we all shake our heads and thank God for our blessings and urge our kids to eat all the food put on their plate. There should be no waste while others are going hungry.
And so the statistics begin to flow in. Several people dying of hunger. That gets our sympathy glands fully tuned on. And we all do what little we can for our suffering countrymen. None of us knows the fate of those most affected. After all, we have our own problems to deal with. Like the rising cost of foodstuff and all essentials. Yet we forget that there are those who have no access to even the least of these. Who wake up each day not knowing what they will eat and go to bed nursing hunger pangs! More than most can take. Especially those little ones who have no way of fending for themselves. But have to depend on people so beaten by life themselves to even be able to take care of those in their care. Who will be the voice of these people? Who will come to the aid of the little children?

02 June 2011

If you ask me...

Lilian Muli is doing a good job. Reaching out to the forgotten members of our society and highlighting their plight is nothing less but noble. And unless she is a real good actress, she actually seems to feel for these people. Take the case of women in jail.
I had never known, until she brought that programme on air, what those behind bars go through. It was eye-opening to see life through the eyes of the prisoners. And to even listen to some of them offer some words of advice to those of us out here on the best way to handle tough issues of life. Talk about experience being the best teacher. This just confirms that there are many ways to break a human being. Some for the better. I listened to a lady recount some gory details of her reason for being behind bars. Most people are quick to pass judgement to a woman who does anything to hurt her child. Given, it is the least expected from one who gives life and is not expected to aid in taking the same(life). But the stories these women highlighted were heart wrenching ones of people who had been pushed to the wall and given in to the pressure. In the process their lives were changed for ever. And those of the ones they love too.
One thing that stood out when listening to these people is that the human heart is made with a place for remorse. Even after committing the most outrageous act a man will eventually get to that stage. Why did I do it? Hide behind alcohol or even drugs but that small voice is always going to be with you. I guess it God's way of ensuring that man faces up to his actions, albeit inwardly.
It was even more surprising to listen to the men. Grown men literally breaking down while recounting  the actions that led to their incarceration(mmmh). Men do cry? Remorse??That just confirmed to me how things change with time. The playbacks must be horrible.
And so I am waiting for the next episode about the drug addicts of Mombasa. From the preview it looks like it will be something worth watching. Everyone has a story to tell. If  we could all take some time to listen it is amazing to know what goes on in others' lives. And our own. That way none of us will be too quick to pass judgement. But not condone bad behaviour either.
Most of the bad that happens in our society only serves to offer a story for the day. It rarely goes beyond that. Crowds mile around to see the results of domestic violence gone bad, shake their heads and speak in low tones. A few even shed tears. But mainly for the kids involved. Few stop to think of the reasons that might have led to the killing of a spouse. Afterall, it cannot happen to me, can it now? Such is the reasoning. Up until the next story hits the headlines of  the couple in the neighborhood who appear so normal. That the man killed the wife. Then all realize that it is closer than we all think. This temporary loss of sanity is with us all the time.