At my work place there is a programme where people from various departments sit in with those who provide direct services to customers for a feel of their work. It is called in-your-shoes programme. It works well because then we all get a feel of how it is dealing directly with customers.
I wonder if we should use that method outside of work. Take our members of parliament for instance. Imagine finding one of them at the bus stop very early in the morning, trying to catch a matatu to work. Then when the matatu gets there, the same mp struggles with all the rest to secure a seat. The mp then sits in the matatu for say one hour in traffic jam, forced to listen to endless chat on classic 105 about stuff that is is best told to a counsellor. His pleas to the matatu conductor to bring down the volume or better still change to another station are met with a blank stare of you-will-know-who-is-boss-here.
Getting to town, the mp might have to jostle with the rest of the crowd from as far as bus station to get to parliament buildings. What a walk that would be for the then sweaty mp. At the end of that day he would walk back to the bus stop to catch a matatu home and sit for another hour or two before getting home tired and all the wiser. I am sure that we would be surprised to hear the same mp passionately campaigning for better road networks or even a revamp of our railway system to cater for the increase in population in our city.
Take the case of hunger in Kenya. Over the years, we have had drought come and take lives though not as severe as the one we are suffering right now. Yet little has changed to encourage a change of lifestyle on those affected. It is easy for most to reason that the affected should initiate change. That is until they do a bit of background check on their lives.
I watched news last night with compassion. A mother in the drought ravished Turkana was massaging a childs' stomach to try and ease hunger pangs. Another held out a child so malnourished to even cry, for the cameras. Imagine for a minute what these people are going through. May be if a truck load of our leaders were to be ferried there, and live out just two days on the ground they might get a feel of life there. No food available and harsh conditions. No hospitals close by. And then we might just see our armed forces sent out to these parts to drill out bore holes and build hospitals for these people. That way, even when there is drought they can still water their animals and even learn to grow fodder for the same with the available watering holes.
It is nothing to be proud of really. Having faces of hungry kenyans splashed on front pages of world dailies. What a way to be known! Ooooh, you come from Kenya where their hunger all the time. Surely we can do better than this. We can seek a lasting change so that despite what the weather hands us we are prepared and can take it on and move to available alternatives. Just as well as should be, really.
One mp is doing it already. The youthful Mike sonko of makadara. I hear that he hates to see any form of suffering and will even step out of his car to do what he has to do. This does often times get him in trouble because he is quite passionate of his peoples plight. But he has worn peoples hearts because he identifies with their plight. He knows what it is to have the staple food unaffordable to most families in kenya. He knows what it is like to sell small wares out in the sun all day and has built sheds for his people. He knows the youth's cry for want of work to do and the pain of a mother who cannot afford a meal for her family. No wonder he is so popular with the crowd.
It is obvious that once you step into someones' shoes abeit for a moment you can identify with them. So much change in the world came about by people who actually came down, status and all and got a feel of life in less fortunate places. These are the missionaries who come to Africa and highlight a people's suffering and drum for funds to be sent for them to initiate projects. Many families have had contact with these charitable organisations. There was even a story of one boy in kenya, many years ago who could not afford to go to school. A swedish lady decided to sponsor a child in Africa. That boy was him and went on to a reputable university in America and has come back to put up an organisation, complete with a school for the less fortunate. Many children are now benefitting from this, all because he has been there. He can identify with them.
Maybe we can all consider this idea really. In our different settings we can all try to live out a few days in the shoes of those who have no voice to air their plight. Might even help those who take stuff for granted to realize just how fortunate they are and reach out to those who are not so lucky. Seriously.