Yes, The Future Is In These Children….My Experience with the Shoe Boxes
We sat in the vehicle tensed but excited. We had just negotiated a rocky, steep and uneven terrain. A push by a housefly would have sent us rolling. Shall we, make it? The terrain was getting more challenging. The car had got enough share of a beating but was not willing to give up. Sitati, behind the wheel, was at his usual best making fun of everything while Liana in the back seat had forgotten her candies back in the house. She wasn’t amused. I was the navigator and poorly doing so…pangs of hunger were on a rampage making my head and eyes less useful to myself and colleagues…this was not going to be an ordinary day…
We were in deep end of Maasai land in Loita and bordering the famous Maasai Mara. It is one of the remotest but beautiful places and famous for the Laibon (Maasai religious leaders). Our mission was to distribute shoe boxes donated by Edukans foundation. The previous, day we had been served an ‘appetizer’ of the same at Enkipetpet feeder school, and according to Mr. Koin, a programme officer at ILIDP, that day was the ‘main course’. He did not disappoint. After a torturous drive on the semblance of the road and the magnificent view of the plains and the scattered wildlife mingling with cows, sheep and goats, we arrived at Morijo primary school to an arousing welcome from children and parents.
Led by the programme head of ILIDP Mr. Mark Ole Karbolo, who is also the LEC board chairman, the day’s programme began unfolding. First was the prayer then entertainment by a boys’ folk dance…the crowd was electrified.
Then the speeches…well at some point my mind wandered off and was in my own imaginations…thinking of these young innocent faces seated a distance from me braving the hot sun…full of hope and expectation from us…the long distance they have to travel crossing the valleys and ridges, dodging wild life like one would dodge bullets in the battle field. And the babies tightly clinging on their mothers, suckling the deflated breasts but being unsuccessful in their hunt…I sighed…how do they survive? What makes them love school despite the distance, the hunger and the wild animals?
And the parents in shukas and ornaments…all hopeful that tomorrow the little ones will give them honor when they are gone…yes seeing the future of the community in these young, tired and bright kids….The clapping brought me back to the present…I clapped too not knowing why…
Then one by one the children received their gifts and ran to the mothers, some sitting on the laps, and unwrapped…what divine happiness! The fathers protecting the treasures from Holland…the crayons, toys, toothpaste, books and pens to mention a few from far land saving children in this hidden world…making these children know that they have friends from so far who care about them….what a friendship…I stifled my tears. “Men don’t cry in public, it is a taboo,” I mumbled. I cried. Back in the car, we were silent, in deep thought everyone thinking and asking questions.
But one thing was clear, these gifts other than increasing enrolment and retention, they achieve so much for children and parents.
That evening as I sipped my cold beer, my mind was with these two sets of children. That this world can be void of hatred and selfishness….that we can unite and have strength in diversity….the future is in these children…
Yes, these children are the future of the universe.
By Edwin M. Buluma.