A sizzling hot day in Nairobi and as my husband and I turned into the school gate, we noticed a man fall onto the tarmac road and launch into an epileptic fit. A car driving past, swerved and missed him. Lucky they were driving by at a slow speed.
I pointed the man out and told my husband what I had just seen. He pulled into a parking space, lept out and ran out the gates to help the pedestrian. When he got there, a watchman from the neighbouring compound had picked him up and moved him to the side of the road. The man, in his early twenties, sat shaking and unable to raise himself off the ground. As our daughter and I arrived, several other men, including an American Priest were attending to him. We ran back to the school, to get him some drinking water.
Once back, the Priest and cyclist had left. The pedestrian sat shaking. He was clearly embarassed and busied himself, picking his documents off the path, placing them into a small plastic bag with some of his belongings. We asked him to give himself a moment to recover. He was a little distressed. Then we asked where he had come from and whether we could get him home. What he said next broke my heart.’I have just left my brother’s place, after seeking help with cash to buy myself my epileptic medication. I found that my brother had just been released from prison, after being charged by the Nairobi City Council with hawking goods on the streets. ‘ Hawking is illegal in Nairobi. ‘I was also a hawker but caught and my goods carried away by the City Inspectorate. I have lost everything. I have no income and decided to get to Kenyatta and see how I could get my daily medication,’ he added.
Looking him over, I noticed how young he is, possibly twenty years old and stunted in height. His limbs were thing and gangly. Five minutes into our conversation, he sat shaking; trying to tidy himself up. We prayed silently for his healing and change of fortunes. Then felt led to share some bus fare and money for his treatment. He received the money reluctantly, citing ‘this is so embarrassing!’ My husband reassured him, adding, ‘we are all Kenyans here and instead of fighting, we should help one another.’ He seemed reassured with these words and urged him to rest a few more minutes, striking a bargain with the watchman there, not to chase him off. The watchman was sympathetic and unable to speak once he hear of the young man’s plight. We prayed again and left, with his assurance that he could and would find his way to Kenyatta.
I pray for the disenfranchised young men and women of our nation; honest young and old people, eager to make an honest living but brought down by systems that are in dire need of updating. I pray for their hungry children brought up in unpleasant neighbourhoods, hardened to life and issues; taught by their surroundings that only the strong and overly aggressive survive through a series of shortcuts. My prayer today, is that we stop talking slums – otherwise we christen and condemn them people to poverty. We stop talking of slum upgrades and offer decent pay, decent accomodation, merit-based opportunities to all. I pray that those who govern our nation would look at strengthening the middle class, so that they can invest more, earn more and initiate a healthy trickle-down effect, to uplift those in need. I pray we grow cognizant that a diet of petty politics malnourishes and atrophies our national strength. I pray that we gain a true, deep faith in God and gain His wisdom to right ourselves in Him. This is my prayer!