Sunday 3 October 2010

Fck...we have no idea what it is to be hungry

So it's been so long since I blogged but as my eyes well up and I feel simultaneously angry, guilty and upset I just had to write. So I haven't told you all about Steve have I? Steve is a young Kenyan who used to be one of the guards in my compound. Steve is 21, bright as a button, got a big smile and a very gentle nature. He loves kids, never takes money when he does a job for people and always goes out of his way to help people. One day we got chatting - about life, the meaning of it, struggles, joys and those special moments. He asked me if I knew anyone looking for a worker -a cook, cleaner, driver as he coudn't stand working 6 at night til 6 in the morning 6 days a week for 5000 Kenyan shillings. His rent is 3,500, the bus is 50 each day and he has to eat and support his mum. By the way - to put that in perspective -I pay 2000 shillings a month just for my blackberry....
Long story short - I wanted to help him. Have I done anything worthwhile since living in Africa? Really? Working at the UN writing intangible, abstract speeches, lectures, papers, editing...god it all feels so pointless at times.
3 months in - he is getting 88 per cent in a graphic design course 2 hours a day. However - he lost his job 3 weeks back as the slave driving immoral unethical bastards that run these security companies decided he couldn't have a day off to see his sick mother. So he went - they sacked him.

Tonight he came around so I can give him next month's school fees. He has lost weight but was smart in a pair of polished shoes and an ironed shirt and black trousers. I give him a cup of tea and pull out some biscuits. We talks and talk ...too much to write here but I realise how wise this kid is. I ask him if he is eating. A long pause. "It's ok - sometimes I go hungry." I open my larder - god I feel embarassed - I pull out biscuits, crackers, a few cans of beer, beans and rice." Go eat and go study I say.

He looks at me and says "thank you - you have a big heart." Do I? Is it really any sacrifice on my part? He asks if he can hug me. Somehow that is too intimate. I smile and shake his hand and promise to see him soon.