It is the twilight of yet another busy dusk. The cars are stuck in a traffic jam and crowded in disorganized orientation. This is my hometown. Our bus is stuffy, and all windows are closed. Someone sneezes from the back. The stench is overwhelming. I use my fingers to block my nose but that is no cure. I look at the lady seated next to me, she is blocking her nose too. I feign a smile and ask her to kindly open the car windows. She instantly frowns and twist her lips in contempt then she looks away. A few moments pass, the traffic jam is still in stagnation. “The stench is too much in here, tafadhali fungua dirisha! (Please open the window!)” I yell back at her after a few moments of impatience. “Are you blind?” She replies. “Can’t you see these mongrels are all over the window? Or do you want to be robbed by their filthy hands?” she exclaims with a disoriented attitude before twisting her lips in contempt once again.
Just then I look beyond the tinted window panes. I see them, the “mongrels” scattered all over the drizzling evening rain. They are carrying bags or rugs and wearing tattered clothes. Some are sniffing glue while others gazing into the windows of the cars pleading for coins. Some have fallen asleep along the alleys, maybe out of hunger or out of exhaustion. Just then the road is cleared, and the bus begins to move. The passenger seated next to the driver throws a coin through the window. It rolls over and falls in front of our bus, in the headlights I see them scramble and fight for the coin, like vultures on a carcass. It’s a game for survival, some are knocked down, some give up and some keeps fighting. The passengers are bored with this drama, it’s a typical scene in my hometown. The driver hoots in an impatient frequency but the loud sound falls on deaf ears. The scramble persists, but the driver must go. The engine is ignited and the bus starts to move. “These kids are very rude and silly, they lack manners!” Someone exclaims from the back as we drive home.
That was last year.
It’s the dawn of a calm Sunday, at Kamulu Church of Christ. A tranquilizing worship can be heard echoing from a distance. The title of the hymn is “Who Am I?’’ by Casting Crowns. I am part of the congregation and I meet them again! The “mongrels.” They are carrying hymn books but reading the song from within their heart. Their voices are harmonized and they are exalting Almighty for what he has done in their lives. But this time round, they don’t look filthy, their faces are glowing with precious joy. Their hair neatly kept and their clothes are well furnished. They are under the courtesy and tender care of Made in the Streets (MITS).
Just then, a trigger of my past memories are evoked from my mind. My mind wanders away from the church. I remember when I saw them last year. I juxtapose these two scenarios and wonder if I am a dreamer. A sense of guilt hits my mind, was I wrong not to stand up for them? Today they look so normal and human. How come it took me so long to feel their plight? How come the passengers in that bus could not see them with this new perspective? What blocked the mind of the driver who was busy hooting and shouting at them? They are children, our children, innocent children.
“Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.” That is the chorus of the hymn, it touched my inner most heart and brought my wandering mind back to church.
If you look at people and judge them, then you have no time love them. That was the message of Christ, he lived and taught us how to live with one another in harmony and eternal love. So where did all these street kids come from? Who brought them here? If we truly love them and cherish them then our streets will free them from the bondage of turmoil and slavery. When we reign in the tendency of judging these innocent souls and classifying them as “mongrels” we forget to remember who we are. But for today, the sun will rise and set both for the kids and the kings, and in the end we are all human beings dying and desperately in need for love.
I am just saying.
Guest post from George Asimba, MITS intern.
6/27/2016 08:04:12 am
George, thank you for this article. I had a similar comparison and reflection experience when I was in Eastleigh and Kamulu this past April. You beautifully put it into words.
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