“Hungry & Homeless”Kenyan in Diaspora-Papers or no papers,Tupendane
We are our brother’s and sister’s keeper as Kenyans.While recently driving in San Francisco with my family, I saw someone holding a sign saying “Hungry & Homeless”. The man looked Kenyan and so we decided to slow down and said “Habari Ndugu”. His eyes lit up with mixed emotions as he politely responded “Mzuri”. However, he immediately gave us his back and turned the other way. The light turned green and we had to move but I shouted, “Nngojea hapo tafadhali, nitaenda round ninarudi in a few minutes”. I was so touched and was moved with compassion and wanted to take this Kenyan out of the street and offer him help. But when we returned to the same street in about ten minutes, he was not there, he had left. I did not judge him, because I may have done the same if I was homeless and met a fellow Kenyan. What could have made this man walk away? Maybe shame of being a Kenyan and homeless, or maybe he has had experiences in his life that made him run away from individuals who could have offered him help. I write this article just to pass a message: tupendane hapa America or wherever we are in the Diaspora. As Kenyan community leaders we have a responsibility and we need to wake up and take the bull by the horn. We cannot have fun while our fellow Kenyans are suffering, homeless and hungry.
Being away from our own country, our own people, and our own families in a foreign country can be very difficult. It is really tormenting when one has no papers that allow them to reside and work in this country. As a result, some people not being equipped with the right information have resorted to hiding from fellow Kenyans. Some have put up walls in their lives that will only take the hand of God to penetrate. Many of us Kenyans in the Diaspora do not have information that can help us live in our adopted homes. We shy away from the unknown, thinking if we went to look for help we might be arrested and deported. So we have fallen victims of numbing our pains and struggles, either with over –the-counter-medication, prescribed medications, illegal drugs or alcohol. We have people in our community struggling with feeding themselves while there are organizations that offer free food, with no questions asked. We have lawyers from not-for profit organizations including Catholic charities that can sit down with you and suggest practical solutions to your illegal status, yet many of us are bogged down with worries about our legal issues.
Why am writing on this? Because I have a passion to help and I cannot do it alone or the few of us who have a similar passion and burden for our less fortunate Kenyans in the Diaspora cannot do it alone; it needs a whole community. We have divided ourselves especially here in the United States into four categories. One category is those who have papers, they rarely want to associate with those who do not. The other category is those who went to school and have professional jobs. These tend to look down upon those who have no professional jobs. At times we even look at the others and treat them as lesser than us just because their profession does not bring in a large income like the other person. The third category is of those who have gone through relationship struggles and are divorced; they keep their own company. Those who are married have their own company and keep to themselves not wanting to mix. It gets worse. Some people do not mix with others just because of the city they live in; makubwa hayo!
The fourth category is the Christian communities; we have our own circles, so we take care of our own in the Christian community. The fact that some of us have papers does not mean we are immune to problems that will require the specific help of fellow Kenyans. The fact that you have money does not mean you do not need fellow Kenyans. Whether you are in want now or not there will come a time when you will need your own people. Remember we will always reap what we sow. Let us be careful to sow seeds of compassion, let us not judge our fellow Kenyans, because we have not walked in their shoe.
Another issue is when others are in need in the community. I have had people respond by telling me “Isabella simjui huyu mtu, we do not see this person in other peoples’ functions, they do not come to help others so they need to learn a lesson from us not going to help”. Give me a break, again you are judging. We need to understand why people do not show up in places. Some of us have wounds, some of us think we think no one loves us or cares, and some of us are running away from hidden pains that make us fragile and uncomfortable in social places. As a result we feel safe in our own little worlds where there is no noise. The question is does really anyone in pain or grieving the death of a loved one or being deported learn a lesson by you not supporting them or helping them? No it does not! I had an incident where someone wanted to punish a fellow Kenyan who had died by saying he never showed up at other peoples’ events. I responded by saying, “this guy is dead, so right now we are not talking about what he did not do while he was a live , lets talk about the need at hand , what we need to do”. Honestly, in most cases all we need to do is to begin from where we are and with the situation at hand without trying to punish people. You will be amazed that the people we blame and judge of not appearing in social events are just hurting people, even when they do not look like, smell like or act like it. This is because they have learnt the art of faking it to survive.
How does this matter to you and me reading this article? You are your brother’s or sister’s keeper. True satisfaction is found in helping those who do not deserve it, those who are looked down upon, and those who have never helped you. It includes those who were in position to help and did not, those who did not show up when you needed them, those who refused to give you a ride, and those who refused to house you. If you find them homeless in their season of reaping please help them. This will be a rude awakening to them than treating them the same way they treated you.
We all have fallen short of what God expects from us in regards to treating our fellow humans, but we cannot continue that way any longer. We can repent and start anew, me included. Please open your eyes to the need that is around you. It might not be only a Kenyan, but we need to start in Jerusalem, we begin at home.
If you are reading this article and you are going through something that keeps you away from other Kenyans please contact us, if we do not have the answer we will point you to someone who can.
The easiest way to contact anyone in the within the united states is through the diaspora massager, you can email them or call Isaac Kariuki with any questions or concerns , he will direct you to the proper resources. Most states have Kenyan organization that have regular meetings, please join them; for example in Northern California we have one called “Harambee” so please try to hook up with your fellow Kenyans its fun being together.
If you have ideas about what you have seen and experienced please write back to me. Together we can put our efforts to fight for our people who are struggling.
Till next week, it is your Diaspora friend, evangelist Isabella Mwango of www.vesselforhonor.org. or call 408-833-6456 remember we are in PST.