Kenyan Diaspora forced by circumstance to beg and wash car windows
Kenyan Diaspora forced by circumstance to beg and wash vehicle windows
Dennis (not his real name) in his early 20’s was a normal man who had left Kenya just like all do “to pursue the American dream” and arrived in America to start his dream in a City called Austin, Texas, the Capital City famous for its beautiful night life found at a long street called the 6th street.
At the time Dennis arrived in America, his host was a well known successful Kenyan man who had made it in life as he was a wealthy real estate Developer who through hard work, owned 4 major apartment complex in various parts of Town among many others elsewhere.
We must put it here that Dennis was by all means received well by the Kenyan tycoon and just like all hosts do, fed and housed until he got his feet together after finding a meager job in the same City and later owning a cheap vehicle that he would use to work and to attend a college where he was learning a computer course.
All that happened and many would recall him as a very smart guy admired by many since he had completed his High School in Kenya scoring straight A’S. He by all means, seemed a focused man who was all ready to embark on the American dream and realize the same, in the shortest time possible.
In all fairness, we will not blame what the tycoon eventually did for he had connected the young man with a group of Kenyans still in that part of the City who were making a living doing all kinds of meager survival jobs and somehow able to afford a house, a vehicle, and on weekends, occasionally invite friends for a goat feast. Dennis by that time was a milk and water lover while living with the group of men who believed that the use of water was for washing hands and bathing only and instead of using the same to quench their thirst, they would prefer beer instead.
That was the home he was introduced to and considering that he would be part of the group that would make merry during the weekends, the rest is history as what later became of this handsome Kenyan man later in life till this day, is a story no one can envy.
It is a story fully of police encounters and drugs that can make the family back home in Kenya to go in tears if the lifestyle he is living today, can fully be revealed to them.
We will fast track as no one can give the real story of how later Dennis ended up as a homeless Kenyan but the person who narrated the story to the writer, gave a one time incident when he last saw him slap a police horse on patrol at 6th street and what transpired thereafter, as he put it, was like what we see in wild-west John Wayne movies.
Dennis was chased by the policeman and after he was caught, tased with a gun then punched and slammed real hard to the ground and finally handcuffed. The narrator though he knew him, could do nothing at the time, but just watched from a distance and then continued enjoying the night. When he later excitedly told a group of Kenyans, he later met at the club, instead of sympathizing and doing something about it as he had expected, they had only laughed it off and told him that jail was his sweet home and he will come out eventually. He just ended the discussion for there was nothing further he could do to assist the unfortunate man, as he too, was relying on his mother for upkeep.
Just as the narrator was assured by his friends, Dennis was thereafter away for a while possibly spending a few years in jail and eventually coming out a confused man with no company as no one could that time agree to house him, leaving him without a home, no clothes and no nothing. He had ended up desperate without any dignity no foolproof in life and simply a walking Zombie not even aware what time it was.
He however after sometimes, somehow finally found a place to call home under a bridge near Austin downtown where he managed to make friends with other homeless Kenyans that mix with other Nationalities.
All Dennis do today together with other homeless Kenyan friends, is to wake up from their dungeon and walk to a street corner above the sixth street to clean peoples windshield when they are stopped at the red light.
He then gets a dollar, or a quarter, and if lucky, gets enough to buy a meal and to satisfy his developed drug addiction habit but little else. In most of the times, the homeless are abused and chased away when they attempt to clean the windshields but at times there are a few sympathetic people who even bring them a MacDonald to go box. Surprisingly the same is not even appreciated for the same people, prefer money so that they can be able purchase drugs.
Dennis then spends the rest of the day if lucky in that street corner, and if chased away by police, will only change position to continue his clever gimmick of getting a dollar for a simple job and when the day is over, retires to the dungeon he has control of as no one can take it.
Dennis is not alone as he is not the only Kenyan in that City living in abject poverty for there are many like him sharing the same filthy dusty bridge corners and who spend their nights all the year round in hot and cold weathers by improvising temporary makeshift beds.
Many may assume that Dennis has no relatives back home, but he has people that up to this day, may be assuming that their son is studying or working in America but little do they know that while they sleep in comfort in their houses back in Kenya, their first born son whom they had high expectation of at the time he left Kenya for America, is spending sleepless nights under a bridge.
The story of Denis is not an isolated one for that is the common current trend happening to many Kenyans who have run into trouble with the law and all are going through the same fate if not worse after not being able to get a job due to bad records.
The question we ask as a community is how can the Government or the Kenyan community assist these Kenyans? Can we be able to fund-raise and repatriate all back to Kenya? It is something the community need to consider for in the end, they will be a liability to all when they die in the same streets as their relatives, will later emerge and request same community, to help them transport the remains of their loved ones for burial back home.
Many Kenyans in America may have perished and buried without the knowledge of their relatives due to the fact that they have no documents. When found by authorities, no one has any slightest idea of where such people originated from as all communications with relatives back home ceased to exist long time ago.
If you know any Kenyan in such a predicament, and he or she, happen to be known to you, it’s better to approach him or her to be helped with a one way ticket back to Kenya for it’s better when such people are living closer to their relatives other than people they don’t know. They still have a chance to go for rehabilitation as many are on drugs and lost reality and not even sure where they are and who they are.
The American dream does not happen to those who fall out and falling out in America can happen to anyone in a split of a second and therefore as a community, let us look out for these brothers and sisters as it’s never too late to make them continue their pursuits for happiness.
We fail because we do not try and hence just locate one and tell the community to rehabilitate him or her for it’s that one person who will reach out to the rest who are still in the street and advise them on how to reform their bad ways and lead a normal life.
They will listen to him or her as a living testimony and you never know, a foundation to solve homelessness amongst us will thus be established to solve the ever growing crisis.
Arch Dr. Isaac Kinungi
Diaspora National Assembly for 254