Friday, 13 June 2008

Rest in Peace,

I was going through the websites I maintain for various organisations, and found the page of a little girl, Evelyn, 3 years old.

Evelyn was found abandoned in town and after an unsuccessful attempt by the police to find out who she was and where she lived, she was deposited at the children's home.

During my stay in Kenya (March 2008), Evelyn died. She was HIV+.

It was with great sadness that I removed her page, with the picture of a pretty littie girl in a white dress, from the website.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Bigotry and Racism

I have been called a racist and a bigot. By a person or people who hide behind anonymity. So I call them cowards.

I may be racist, a reverse racist, inasmuch as I prefer the company of most Kenyans to the company of most Brits, despite being British myself.

As to being a bigot, a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own, I plead "Not Guilty".

I have my own opinions - I wouldn't write a blog if I didn't - but I respect the right of people to have differing opinions. I respect the right of other people to disagree with me, just as I may disagree with them.

When I am threatened with the blog equivalent of "We know where you live!", things are going too far.

For the love of all that is decent, this is a blog! My thoughts, my feelings, nothing subversive. I am not out to change the world with a blog.

Having said that, I am out to change the world for a few people, a mere drop in the ocean of humanity. But I work hard to improve the lives of a few people.

I don't do it for thanks or praise. I'm not that good. But I do not expect to be despised by those I cannot help because I am a mzungu.

Maybe others will see what my friends and I are doing and emulate us. We shall see when our projects are fully operational.

Maybe then, the anonymous people who insult me and my kind will see that we are not all bad, even if our ancestors may have been.

Thoughts on suffering and other stuff.

I hear and read that over here, in the UK, as in many parts of the "developed world", people are suffering due to the rise in the price of crude oil.

Suffering? Who are they kidding?

Do we really know what the word suffering means?

To my mind, suffering is having an acute pain, physical or mental, distress.

Finding that a litre of fuel has risen another penny is annoying, inconvenient.

Watching a loved one die of a disease or starvation, that is suffering.

A vast majority of the UK population has no idea what it is like to live in Africa, Asia or South America, and I count myself amongst them.

I have witnessed poverty in South Africa and more recently in Kenya. For most, it is a way of life, with no hope of escape.

Most people in the UK own or have the use of a car. Most people in the UK live in a weatherproof, warm house with electricity and clean hot and cold water on tap, literally.

Most Kenyans and South Africans I know don't have either electricity or water. They don't have cars. They are fit because they walk!

I have lived in these conditions in Kenya, and surprisingly, I think I adapted quite well. I enjoyed my stay, but then, I was with people I like, people I would be happy to have as family.

This got me thinking that in the materialist world I live in, we (or at least, I) have lost touch with what is important. Cars, fully equipped houses, tap water, electricity, these are not important.

People are important. The people we live with are important. The people who surround us are important.

This does not mean that I will give up my car, electricity and clean drinking water. Not in the UK, ayway. It does not mean that, in Kenya, I do not aspire to owning a car, or living in a house with all the conveniences I am used to. But I think I would rather live in Kenya without all the trappings than in the UK with them.