Sunday, February 27, 2005

No matter how bad your day is, someone else's sucks more.

So the paper today ran an article with the title, "sanitary napkin shortage in Zimbabwe" Apparently the government has over-taxed sanitary napkins and tampons and thereby disuaded imports of the products and NGO's and aid-groups are having to turn down donations of these items as they can't afford the tax. Women have had to resort to using, "old rags, newspapers and any absorbing materials" they can find. Use your imagination to imagine my response to reading that. Uneffinbelievable.

The other day as I was hurtling down Uhuru Highway (main road) in a matatu, I looked at the filthy stream that is the Nairobi River and observed some homeless folks sitting around eating, chatting, washing clothes etc. One woman had completely stripped down and was sitting on a rock in the river washing herself right next to this six lane highway. And this was right around the time of rush hour traffic so Joe Anybody could look out their window and see how poverty has robbed this woman of any shred of dignity or shame. And her kids were splashing about next to her, oblivious to how shitty this world is and just being kids.

So sad but what to do? There are quite a number of street kids, you'll usually tell them by their filthy appearance, scruffy looks and the permanent bottles of glue attached to their noses. Sniffing glue is how these kids temporarily forget where they are and how futile their situation is. They walk around stoned, palms out begging for money so they can get their next fix. On Friday I was downtown at about 6 in the evening waiting for my brother and this little boy walks up to me, glue bottle to his nose saying, "saidia mama", "help me lady" and I kid you not, this boy barely made it made it to my waist. He was soooo tiny, I'd guess his age to be about 4 or 5. He tripped as he neared me and change fell out of his pocket which he picked up and walked past me, sniffing away.

There is such a large refugee population in Kenya which is sort of an intake center from the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia and more recently Darfur conflicts. The Somalis and Ethiopians (for some reason the former have emigrated here in large numbers) live in typical urban ghetto areas that are now nicknamed Mogadishu and Addis (for both nation's capitals). They are everywhere, and I mean everywhere. More and more come in every day, especially now from Congo and from northern Kenya where most have escaped Darfur. And they're quite resourceful, setting up business and different enterprises. The only drawback, they only hire their own it seems. I think our immigration system is something of a joke so their are more bad apples slipping in and mingling with these communities and terrorists are being harbored.

Actually, I'm going to read up on immigration in Kenya because to me it appears to be chaotic and so outdated. E.g., A foreigner who marries a Kenyan woman cannot assume citizenship, she has to assume his. A foreign woman who marries a Kenyan man is immediately considered a Kenyan.

Anyway, getting late, have to go, huge soccer game to watch. Oh yeah, lol, soccer seems to be the one uniting factor in what this crazy world appears to be. Actually rugby has a huge following here but people are crazy about football. My brother was telling me of days past whenever there were Arsenal or Man Utd. games and hundreds of Somali kids would pack the bars, literally sitting on top of each other to watch a game and not one would order a drink. Lol, management got pissed off and instituted cover charges and two drink minimums during the games and the kids disappeared to find a pub that hadn't caught on.

I hope you folks are enjoying the blogs, they're very therapeutic for me. You'll probably get a nasty one tomorrow, time to tackle opening the bank account! Urghhh....


vdthemyk said...

Really makes you open your eyes, eh? That's one crazy thing about living in the US, scenes you describe rarely happen here. We've become isolated from the world's problems and we become focused on the wrong things. Oh well, one mind can't change the world, but one mind can change another. (Write that down)

I wonder if there will ever be a time when people stop living in a social cast system and help those in need. The misses does it all the time and I admire her for it. I should be doing more, and I probably will start soon.

The US misses you CSK.


Cheeky said...

Vd, I miss you more!'ll be in sunny Hawaii soon but no worries, I'll be in sunny Mombasa enjoying less crowded beaches. He he he.