This is Shava A muslim, studying in a school near Bungoma.
The school doesn’t have electricity yet which makes the learning process often complicated. But who must pay for this?
“Miss, can you give me 500 euro, because I need to pay for my driver lessons”- asked the gardener of the second orphanage, which I have worked for.
“You know, here is normal when a white girl comes to us to buy a nice house to a male African man, or atleast a good car” -male friend from Nairobi said to me.
“We need 1200 euros for the electricity cables, we made the change in euro so it’s going to be more comfortable for you and your family” – The owner of the private school answered a question I never made (nor did my family). According to him I was “supposed” to make a donation for the “good of the African kids”.
“The gasoline until the village will cost 100 euro”-he added. ” Priest, I am a driver, too, and according to the consumption of your car and the distance we need to pass, it will cost approximately 30 maximum 40.”- I answered. “I will need 100 anyway, trust me”- the priest insisted. Conclusion- I gave him 30 for a full reservoir and we went there and came back and there was still gas left in the car…
And many, many more for my short stay…
The one thing that I strongly disliked about the mentality of the people I was co-living and meeting in Bungoma is that sooner or later, they will leave me with the perception I am just a walking ATM for them. Every other person (or to be honest – almost everybody, with 5 exceptions during my whole journey) was asking me for money. This is normal I guess, considering the fact that the average salary is 100 of euros per month. But here comes the moral question. Is that ok? And more important aren’t we, people from more developed societies, allowing this madness. We need to take a responsibility! In Bulgaria we say “It’s not the one who’s fault who eats the banitsa (typical dish, looks like bread and cheese), but the one who gave it to him. So I am using my blog as an appeal to all the people who want to help Kenyans, don’t leave people neglected. Don’t leave African kids, Kenyan kids, our kids neglected! If you want to help them financially because of our different standard, just be aware you do it in the right way! Don’t spoil them, giving them everything and have them expecting those gifts. Let them earn those goods with good behavior, studies, good manners and help – treat them as you would treat your own kids. And I guess you won’t feel comfortable if your kids are asking their richer friends everyday for free money…
Photos from Bungoma town, Kenya
Typical student’s book in Africa. Teaching the children to have good work ethic.
Don’t feel “pity” for them because it’s embarrassing and in the long run you will bring more damages and side effects than actual help.
The children from the first children’s home I was working for told me “You are very different from the other volunteers who came to visit us” And I asked why? So they sincerely responded “You don’t bring us biscuits and Coca-cola and play with us all the time. You only bring us bananas and make us study hard and exercise after school, only if we are done, you play, it’s not fair! You are not good to us!”
During the learning process, I just loved my job and this incredible human beings!
If you love somebody from the bottom of your heart would you give him every day a biscuit and a Coca-cola, would you let him play all day and allow him go to school unprepared the next day? But in case you don’t feel responsible enough you would, wouldn’t you? You will feel pity for him, giving presents and assuring yourself he deserves a little more happiness for a day or two. There is nothing wrong with your intentions, if not the donor/volunteer after you would eventually do the same. So at the end a viscous circle emerges where a young child will grow up loosing a sense of responsibility and morality. Or why buying the cow (study hard, be well educated and hard working) when the milk is for free(presents, goods and free play)?
What these children need to understand is that in life nothing is for free and in some stage in our life we need to make decisions. “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” I just explained to them, “Now you can think I am the most horrible teacher who has ever came to you, but one day you will understand!”
The most beautiful gift that we can give to our children is to make them understand how important education is. Learning at school, in your family, learning everyday, and never stop, because if physically most often we feel restricted by many conditions, mentally our capacity is unlimited. There are no borders for anyone who feels the love of learning and aspire happiness and success in their life!
Things like this give me a reason to do what I do for this kids. My student Karen just draw me together with her family and herself, during a class activity, learning the parts of the body!
To conclude, I will ask you from all my heart – Don’t make poor people bеggars while you are trying to help them. Remember easy come-easy go! Be persistent and make them better HUMANS!