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.

1 comment:

Emma said...

I read somewhere about the idea that charity is not the money you give to big organizations, but what you do to help individual people... I see what you are saying and how you feel about yourself, but still, if you help this one person, even with things that cost you nothing in the scheme of your life, you are still helping him. And that matters.