Surround yourself with people you love.
Silas with some kids from the orphanage where we were helping
You may not realize it, but spending time with someone, whom you are not really fond of, is demolishing you. I was happy to go in Kenya and to live with people I really liked from the first day. As you know, I had started helping the others with organizing my first donation when I was at school at the age of thirteen. Ever since then my family is always supporting me, when I decide to travel to help people all over the world. But I understand that even if a person has the same good will to help and to serve his community or people abroad as I do, it is very hard to find time and resources to do it. That is why I decided this year to organize my travel a little bit different so I can inspire more people at my age (in Africa 21, currently 22) to do charity. So I announced in my website and on the facebook group and that this year I am searching for a place to stay free while I am doing my voluntary work. There were many people with good hearts, who wrote to me, and were ready for this cultural challenge. We all knew it was for a good cause, because I agree that it is normal a young person to save and pay his travel expenses but at least I believe some local people can give him an accommodation so he/she will be able to do his voluntary work, without making his travel a fortune spending process. So I was happy to choose one gorgeous Kenyan family, from a little town near the border with Uganda, called Bungoma.
My lovely own room, generously provided by the family during my stay
Silas and Mercy and their baby- Wisdom
Mercy, Silas, and their family welcomed me into their house – one son Wisdom and 2 girls Hella and Veronica kids of their relatives. I was feeling blessed the whole time having the opportunity to live in their home, with their family, because they were amazing, especially Silas, who was working with me at the children’s home I was helping at first. I will share more about this great family in the following articles, but now I would like to discuss one specific topic. I am glad I was living with their family, because it helped me understand more about the Kenyan culture and traditions. The topic is about the practice of multiple marriages and the polygamy in Kenya.
Kenyan men have practiced polygamy, or plural marriage, as far back as they can remember. But very recently this month I read that in Kenya’s parliament passed a bill allowing men to have a limitless number of wives, treating, in my opinion, women as second-class citizens. The law will be effective soon and the only thing that needs to be decided now is if men could do it legally without any consultations or agreement with their partners. As I already said I was blessed with the possibility of staying with a pretty modern-living young family, which was against this Kenyan tradition of multiple marriages. They even found this new law shameful and retrogressive, a law that defiles the sanctity of family and religion. Mercy and Silas seemed to have pretty normal life – going to work, taking good care of their family and helping their community by interacting in the local church every Sunday. That is why I was really surprised to find about the existence of these cultural differences between what I am used to and what I have been taught in my family, and the way of life of Kenyan people. Recently I have read that the head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, John Cardinal Njue, called the passage of the bill “painful move” by a male-dominated parliament, and urged the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, who was the one to have the last and the crucial word of passing the bill, to reject it. On the other hand the chairman of Men’s Empowerment and Development in Kenya – an advocacy group established four years ago to counter focus on women and girls affairs “at the expense of men and boys”, Nderitu Njoka said that in Africa, polygamy is a way of life, and when you’re making a law you must go back to what the society wants. Njoka rejects the notion that polygamy is exploitative of women, saying that plural marriages are “very practical unions” that reduce prostitution, HIV/Aids, infidelity and cheating.”It is now time for people to come out of their hypocrisy and accept polygamy”, he said.
My job in Kenya was not to judge their traditions or moral. My job was to help their community, by working for the sake of their kids. But while living like an ordinary African – eating their food, working with their kids, going to their church and having a hot-bucket-showers every day, I could not help but wonder, is polygamy normal? Is it acceptable in 21 century ? Do their men really have this strong need of having a couple of families and wives, or even 100 families according to their history – the citizen Ancentus Akuku Ogwela had married 130 wives and when he died at 92, he had left behind 210 children. Is this a normal phenomenon in one modern and educated society? Maybe I am too young and I don’t understand many things about life and its true meaning, but is it really polygamy, many-sexual relationships and numerous children a thing that a contemporary society has a need of. Is it loving lifelong one person and having beautiful family and beautiful kids with that person, something so unnatural? Isn’t it one person enough? The answer is up to you and you know what is right or wrong according to your beliefs-you know where to put your own line. After all, we live in a free society, where everybody has the freedom to think and feel what he wants, don’t we?