Kenyan Soccer Mum in America: When amazement becomes shock, then a sad reality settles in!
The issues that Kenyans face after arriving in the United States are astronomical. After the initial shock of the drive through MacDonald, drive through banks, city lights, and a web of roads that seems endless, a family settles into an apartment, or house, for those who are more prepared. The initial joy is ecstatic! The idea of hot showers, electric power that is predictable, floors that have carpets, a good size refrigerator, a cooker, and a dishwasher, gives a comforting experience to the Kenyan woman from Jabini or my home, Kosirai, Nandi. Then one walks out and there is no garbage, mud, or the chaotic parking arrangement in South B. The man rejoices knowing that Kiwi shoe polish is gone for ever!
These Western conveniences are a breath of flesh air. However after a few days, the parents who have children start researching on how to get their young kids to school and to which school. They wonder where and how to go to church, where to go for the grocery, and where to just go! Then they realize they need transportation and there is no bus, or the ever present Kenyan matatu. As they ponder the idea, they get a call from a veteran Kenyan friend who educate them on the American child abuse law. “You cannot leave children below the age of 10, 11, 12, 13 at home by themselves”. The woman pulses, “Ati nini?” she asks in disbelief. “So how are we supposed to live?” she enquires. “It is your children, it is your life, the state does not care”. The friend welcomes them to America then hangs up the phone.
Now, America becomes a burden! The conveniences are stored in the back of the mind as the women begins to wonder where she will find a maid! She calls around and the 60 dollars per child deal comes up. Not a maid, but a day care! The husband tries to get a car, then a drivers license, and the list goes on and on. As the husband goes to college and spends days away, she is left alone wondering over what to do next. She opens the door and sees no one walking. Just cars passing by! She realizes she is alone.
For Miriam Musau, the decision was simple. Either she looses her children in the American web of chaotic modernism or she decides on her priority. “It was not easy” she says reflectivily. They needed to make money and she thought of advancing her school. She had 3 boys and her husband’s work demanded much travel. “After calculating and the logistics of home care, day care, drop off and pick up, grocery shopping, church, friends and all, I decided that my boys were my priority. I was not going to give them to someone else to raise them”. She became what the Americans call “soccer mum”. They got a mini Van and it became their, as she calls it, “traveling home”. Kids school, after school, soccer, basket ball, youth meetings, church meetings, grocery shopping. She strapped her boys in their child seats and they drove every where together. Sitting with her eldest son in their living room in Virginia, I realize the benefits. He talks about going to seminary, and asks for my advice. In the mean time two young guys, white and black, enter the house and disappear into the basement. After a while, my musical ears hears drums and guitar sounds. “That’s my son and his friend. My son is a worship leader and he instructs young people on drums”! She tells me proudly. I can’t play drums . . . I am a piano and guitar guy so I am impressed.
On Saturday morning, I am awaken by sounds of women laughter. I walk down stairs where a fellowship is on the way. I sit down and listen as Kenyan, American, and Asian Indian women encourage each other, pray together, and read scriptures. Miriam stands and speaks about her husband who is undergoing surgery that morning. The women pray for him. Then they show me a container with pennies, dimes, and dollars. “We collect money among ourselves and help the poor. Right now we have a goal of helping poor girls in Kenya who cannot afford sanitary stuff!” One of the ladies tells me.
After an analysis, I walk to the kitchen and get myself a cup of Kenyan tea. Then I realize that God calls all of us to serve him in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. For some of us, education was the goal, others chose to work, others stay home mums, but all of us can excel in whatever we choose and by grace bring our children along. “You need to share your story with others.” I challenge Mrs Musau. “It’s nothing”. She says humbly. It is something, and she can share it with others. Maybe a Kenyan mother or father in diaspora needs encouragement. To schedule Miriam to speak to your women group, small group, or church, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Teddy Njoroge Kamau, PhD. Director: International Desk/SYR/Radio/TV. Diaspora messenger Contributor