12 September 2011

Cry, the beloved country.

Picture this. A family lives in a one roomed iron sheet house. A complete family. This is the only home the children know. This is where the tired head of the house comes to rest at the end of a hard day laboring at a construction site. And this is where a mother, tirelessly works day after day to make a home worth coming to for her hubby and school going kids.

The situation is so bad that food is anything that is affordable within the set budget. On the day hubby does not secure work at the site, then the family may have to go to bed hungry. The mother will try all she can, including trading some vegetables just outside of their house. Just so she can get something to put at the table for her children when they come back from school after trekking a while.

The family survives on less than a dollar a day. Even with the rising food costs. That means that they have to make sacrifices even more. The children might have to skip breakfast so that they can have supper that day. They grow up wishing that life was better but have to bear with the way things are. They work hard at school with hope that things will be better some day. But do not go far because school fees, though subsidised by the government, is still not cheap.

And so life goes on. The man of the house can barely manage to feed his family, leave alone pay the rent. Or clothe them. It is a life of desperation for the family. And they live in a neighborhood where most people share this situation. Hope is but a distant glimmer. The children hear about families that have all they need. They see children from rich families looking out of their family car on their way to school. They wish they would ride but once in the school buses that go by at the main road. They can only look down forlornly as they trudge on to school.

School is not fun either. There are no warm snacks at break time to warm their little tummies. They take a break and play in the open, hoping for a miracle for lunch. That mum will have sold some greens and made something for lunch. These children life entirely on hope.

In the evening, the scene is repeated. The children take what is on offer for supper before retiring to bed. That is usually a mattress on the floor of the one roomed house. The bed is for mum and dad. Sometimes the wind blows in cold air to their sleeping space through the open space below the door. Nevertheless, they sleep on.

Then a break appears. A neighbor has spotted some leaking oil from a burst oil pipe not far off. Soon word spreads throughout the slums. Everyone scrambles with whatever they can to catch some. All they can think about is how much the oil might help their family situation. Nothing about the danger of the action triggers in their minds. Just anything to help them survive another day.

This is the scene of what happened today in a kenyan slum. So many people lost their lives in a fire caused by an oil spill. And so before anyone lifts a finger to accuse these people with a they-should-have-known-better attitude, please stop to think. Human beings are born with an instinct to survive. And will go to any lengths to do so.

Meanwhile, our government needs to come down to the level of the common man. Try and see if the shoe fits. It is not fair that some people have more than they will ever use in their lifetime while others watch over the fence with nothing to eat. It is time to have the welfare of the people at heart. Let everyone show their humane side by doing something for the sake of another. While you push those overladen trolleys at big chain supermarkets, think about that guard at the door and drop a loaf of bread to him. It might make for a pleasant surprise for his children. And you will be none the poorer.

If anything has to change, it will start with me and you. All of us caring about those around us. It might even catch on with our leaders. And there, we might have our beautiful country back. With people who are so beautiful at heart. Caring for each other. As well as it should be.
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