Diaspora Parents: The needs,The Challenges,Potential And The Possibilities

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At times, we want to do something for ourselves and know that it will improve our life by getting us to that level that we so much aspire to reach. Everything looks good as we begin to feel the excitement building up, looking to the future. A few years down the road we find ourselves at the same stage we were before, only now it is different because time has passed and we have not achieved our goals. The question one is bound to ask is: “Where did the time go?”

One thing that fascinates me is the amount of potential we carry as individuals. Some of us, like myself, were born in another country and came to this country as grown-ups. Some came with children of different ages, others have had their children born in this land of plenty. Taking care of ourselves and children has taken all the stamina out of our daily lives, leaving us stretched taught like a spring, ready to recoil or snap at the slightest touch. A full day of work, dodging traffic and managing home-work leaves one drained of all energy. We have been left to move like reluctant cogs in a gigantic machine.

One thing I experienced coming into this country was the fast life that left one reeling. Someone had told me that it is easier for a person to lend you a car to drive yourself, than have time to take you somewhere. At that time, I found it to be absurd, but later proved it true in a personal experience. My car was in a shop longer than expected, and I asked a friend if she could give me a ride to work to be there by 7.00AM. True to form, she offered me the key to their extra car and told me the tank was full, so I should be ready to go. Amazing! This was indeed the promised land.

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Back to my point on goals and aspirations. A few years ago, I found that a lot of parents have been overwhelmed, with kids who, either did not graduate from high school, or those who graduated and did not go any further. Some were not able to continue because they did not have the necessary paperwork, or the finances were prohibitive. This is a burden that stayed on my

heart and weighed on me heavily for a long time. Finally, I decided to put together a one day workshop for Kenyan born parents and their children of all ages. My target group was students, with an emphasis on those who were either in college and those who were unable to attend for various reasons. I invited a few of my friends with different careers and backgrounds.

The highlight of the day was an enterprising young man, who I had met at a different forum, and though only in his early twenties, was a founder of a non-profit organization. I learnt from him that he was brought up by a single mother, and had graduated with a bachelor’s degree with no student loans! When I asked him if he would come and share his knowledge and experiences, he was enthusiastic and ready to share. We had a reasonable turnout and ended the day on a high note. My son was there to help me put up posters, register attendees, and pass bottles of water to the guests and panelists.

As diaspora parents, we still have a lot of ground that we need to cover. The first step is to identify the needs we face in the community. We have a glaring challenge that we must reckon with, and that is changing our mind set and begin to think in terms of potential and possibilities. For years, we have focused on problems and things that we are not able to do. We must step up and change the course of things. The children we are bringing up are people with a diversified culture, so it is imperative to understand the systems so that we can empower them while empowering ourselves at the same time. We have children who are unique in that they come from a background of hard work. At the same time, we need to realize that these children are global in focus; their horizons are expanded, and there is no turning back.

There is work for us to do as parents. We are perpetual givers: giving time for our children and helping them on their path to success. However, I believe there are many who have put their goals on hold and do not even think about it. What can we do about the status we are in?

We are our brother’s (and sister’s) keepers. Let me hear your ideas and suggestions. It does not matter which state you are in: there is something you can do. In the DC Metro area, we have made major strides, with more ground to be covered. We are more than conquerors!

Evangeline Kirigua

Email: [email protected]

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