An appreciation of the present.

A DAY WITH REHEMA-an appreciation of the present.

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

I am very excited about the new magazine we are starting for the children of Africa (Bingwa). I will have the opportunity to spend plenty of time with children and get to have my world lighted up by their innocence and pure enthusiasm…..maybe even really get to relive my childhood…ha ha….Today is such an occasion.

We are going to spend a day with a 15-year-old girl who lives in the largest slum in Kenya, Kibera. This is so we give other children the chance to see how other people spend their weekends.  I am one of those sleepy heads who wakes up an hour after the alarm goes off; just for the kick of it……just to prove that I do not have to do whatever is stated. Today, however, I wake up immediately my alarm goes off. I do not want to be late. I am where I should be; outside the Hilton Hotel by 7.30 am.Our photographer Charles Kimani is late.  

In my short life I have learnt that ‘life’s like that’. You do something to your very best, only for it to blow up in your face. Something always comes up threatening to bring down everything you have ever worked for. However, things do not turn out like I was fearing. Juliet and her driver (both from UNICEF) are here on time. We pick up the photographer a few minutes later and head off to Kibera. Juliet briefs us a little about the girl we are going to spend the day with, Rehema. She is the first-born and lives with her father and three younger siblings. Her mother died two years ago and she does all the housework. They all live together in a one-roomed house in the slums of Kibera.

Kibera slum is a place you cannot go alone if you are a visitor. Apparently, the harsh living conditions give birth to thousands of angry people. They steal from you and call you all types of names if they realize you do not look like a Kibera resident. I personally do not think it’s that bad….Well, as long as you aren’t wearing ‘bling blings’.  

This is not my first time here on the job. When I was a freelance journalist, I decided to write a story on Kibera. I came alone. My small camera and I did what every other tourist or journalist does…..go to the chief.I was given someone to guide me to all the places I had to go; for a fee of course. That’s another story altogether. 

Back to Rehema. We picked one Mrs. Asego who works as a teacher at Rehema’s school, Ayany Primary School. She was feeling unwell and she hurriedly left as soon as she had taken us to Rehema’s house. “Watch out for any black paper bags,” she said as we walked on the narrow pathway. I thought these things were long gone…..I thought flying toilets were a thing of the past here in Kibera…especially with all the new toilets being put up with the help of NGO’s and C.D.F’s. Luckily, we did not bump into any. We learnt that some people couldn’t afford to pay even three Kenyan shillings to use the latrines because they barely earn enough. 

Rehema’s father Mr.Odhiambo introduced everyone else and before we could go on he started complaining about how NGO’s and journalists always come to his house yet no help ever comes to them. “Some Europeans came here and were doing a documentary and they said they’d come back with some kind of help,” he said. They never came… So here we were, Juliet and I, ready and eager to spend a day with Rehema but we had to start pondering about how to help or the right thing to say about that situation. Juliet tried to explain and it was obvious they were expecting something from us. We did what we could.

Rehema did not seem like she was very happy. “She seemed really happy and excited yesterday when I talked to her,” Juliet said. She started on her housework as Charles took endless photos of her in every activity she was doing. It’s shocking what first borns have to do; from 8 a.m to 5 p.m on a Satuarday; housework is all she has to do. 

What about time for study? Time to grow up and discover herself? Time to watch movies and know about other places and people?  Anyway, I let Juliet find out why she did not look at all excited. I figured that she’s worked with children for long but I must admit it was just as hard for her to get through to Rehema. Meanwhile, I figured it would be good to get to know the other siblings as well. Job, 13 years old,  was a very jolly and interesting fellow. He’s got a dog named Amigo who’s three years old. Opposite their house sits Amigo’s kennel, which Job built with his own two hands. 

He wants to be a journalist when he grows up and has already appeared in a documentary titled Wide Angle. He absolutely loves the radio; he can also sing and rap and has a deep voice that will obviously be a positive in the future. They don’t really get along with his elder sister Rehema but he tells me that someone made Rehema angry even before we arrived.I then hang out with Felgona, the last-born. She is tiny and doesn’t do much but play. “I am too small to do housework,” she utters playfully. She’s hasn’t got the slightest clue about what she wants to be when she grows up. I conclude that Felgona is basically a very young and complex creature who through the entire visit, puts a smile on my face. She gave me clues into Rehema’s life and I resolved to see her (Rehema) come back to her normal self. 

From one activity to the next, I asked and discussed things she likes. But she never wanted to talk about her mother much; so I did not delve into it.
Nigeria is the topic that made her really lighten up. She wants to go to Nigeria one day. “Because I have heard a lot about Nigeria. I must go there one day,” she says.

 Rehema’s dad concluded, “I keep reminding Rehema that I was almost killed as I took her mum to deliver at Pumwani
Maternity Hospital. We were mugged at 10 pm on that night she was to be born. That’s why I called her Rehema, meaning God’s mercy.”
 
Watching them eat and drink together inspite of the hardships made me vow that I’d never take any meal for granted. I learnt so much about my patience with kids, ability to get through situations, the power of a dream, the magic of hope and the appreciation of the present. 

   

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4 Responses to “An appreciation of the present.”

  1. Amisi Says:

    Good work, Eudia. I enjoyed reading your anecdote on the secret life of a young journalist. And the poems are fresh, reflective, and sentimental.
    You rekindle in me those memories of my teenage when prose and poetry freely flowed from the heart, oblivious to the daily distractions of living and worries of rejection. THhoughts are meant to be shared, and this is what blogging is all about.
    I now know I owe you and millions of poetry lovers out there my poems, and soon you’ll be able to read them online. For inspiration, look at Khalil Gibran.

    Like

  2. eudiahkamonjo Says:

    you know, i just this comment from Amisi on the purpose of blogging and his promise to poetry lovers out here; that we would soon be able to read his poetry online…………..

    Its so sad that the kids magazine did not kick off as expected…….really sad….
    But its only a matter of time before someone realises this pressing need…..

    Like

  3. Ronald Says:

    Eudy ou write so well. Keep it up.

    Like

  4. Cedric Says:

    Nice piece.

    Like

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