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Kindness Begins With Me

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Ever heard a story so bad you found yourself forgetting all your problems? A situation so devastating, your guts twist when you remember it? It’s like there are people in this world who were born animals in human form… Let me tell you why I’m so mad….

My colleagues and I left the office last night at around 9.00pm. One of us had to be dropped in Kileleshwa so we drove on complaining about the day, office politics, how nice the road was, cursing at bad drivers… nonsensical stuff…. Anyway, we are passing by Shell Kileleshwa and we see a woman walking with a child. Our very first thought was to curse out the woman for having a child out so late and in this freezing weather. How could she expose her baby to this harsh weather then complain about medical bills? Doesn’t she know matatus are there for a reason? I mean, you could see the baby tugging on her skirt and struggling to walk. Women can be so cruel! She is such a bad woman, or so we thought….

This story goes on till we drop the one of our colleagues and  head back to town. As we passed Shell Petrol Station, we noticed the woman still walking and out of concern, we decide to ask where she was going. She says she wants to go to Machakos Country Bus Station and knowing this city, I thought that it was just another fake story. It was now is exactly 9.35 PM. Putting my feelings on hold; we decide to drop her at the bus station for the sake of the child. As it turns out, she was actually carrying a second baby in her arms! About 6 months old. So imagine a woman dressed in a slip dress (for those who remember them) carrying a tiny baby in her arms and a 4 year old boy tugging at her skirt.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The woman told us that she had been chased away by her husband and endured a long  walk all the way from Kawangware in the cold. It might not seem far to you but what would you know? You drive that distance in three minutes. Now calculate the pace of a tired beaten up woman and a child in the cold.  Extremely slow right?

She shared the reason she was chased away was because her husband thought the 4 year old is not his seed. He had been mistreating the boy so bad, the young boy had burn marks on his stomach and face. According to the woman the boy endured lots of abuse. Her husband took a live wire and beat a child with it! He banged a four year old (who knows no wrong) against the wall till he fainted! What kind of human does that? You could see the child was weak and scared as he  clung to the mum.

The disputes  started after the woman bore the man his own child (the 6 month old) and I guess he started feeling he had too much responsibility; like the older boy was somewhat filthy and not worthy of being in his presence. So when the woman couldn’t stand seeing her child get beaten, she confronted the guy who got violent and left in a huff. This woman has been left bruised both physically and emotionally. He came back later with another woman and told the wife to leave since he had a replacement. She was to leave and take nothing, including the baby’s clothes since he had bought it all, “the new woman will use them”. So she was thrown out, her phone totally broken in the commotion and with two small kids. Unfortunately, she did not even have someone to share her problems with since she hasn’t been in Nairobi long enough to have friends she could go to.

Now she is headed to the bus station to beg until she finds enough money to pay for transport back to Ugenya (her parent’s home). The kids have not eaten so long they look malnourished; the small one needs a fresh diaper so she won’t stop crying and the mother has no money to her name. My colleague and I paused our journey home to buy food and Pampers for the journey and ensure she gets into a matatu back home. It was the very last seat in the last matatu for the night. She was so grateful  that she stopped the matatu again to ask for our numbers.

Here’s the devastating part, this woman has been stabbed by the guy before and she went back, the child has evidently been mistreated for long. He looks traumatized and won’t even talk to us since he’s used to being beaten for opening his mouth. His face is tear-stained and he’s wearing a sweater so light it could pass for a t-shirt. I want to blame her for the situation but what good will that do right now? Her kids don’t know what’s happening only that they are hungry and cold. Some cars stopped by her before we carried her and she was telling us that the men were all asking that she spend the night with them for them to give her 1000 bob for fare home. Is this the kind of help you choose to offer someone who’s clearly desperate? Entertainment for your loins as the children sleeps in a corner?

I can only pray she gets home safe. I know fraudsters  are all over Nairobi with fake stories but there are people out there who seriously need your help. I’m not asking that you become their guardian angel or pay for their entire education.  All I ask is that you think of yourself or your sister in that position and act how you would like others to. Blame who you want later for the terrible situation; but help where you can, not even just for the sake of the woman, but for the children.

I’m pretty sure a little boy staining your immaculately cleaned white leather car seat is not the end of the world. You will not die if you spare that two thousand shillings you were going to drink tonight and give it to a person in need. Not taking pizza or a meal at Artcaffe will not make you develop Marasmus or Kwashiorkor but that child probably has both. There’s a reason you were put in this world with other people; no one should suffer alone, be your brother’s / sister’s keeper. You may never know where you’ll need help out of a bad situation.

I believe in the power of kindness.

 

Article written by Shiroe Maina @shirodee_

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