Still Invisible

Sometimes reality hits you when you’re not ready for it.

My mind was clouded as I got off a matatu near Nyayo stadium after a long day of meetings and bad coffee. It was late and I was ready to go home and collapse on my bed. But clearly, this matatu driver wasn’t as eager as I was to get to town so he stopped the vehicle and told us to get out.

As I walked to catch a connecting bus into town, 3 street kids stood up and blocked the path about 30 feet in front me. I was entirely too tired to entertain being robbed, so I tightened my grip on my laptop bag and balled up a fist just in case. Then I engaged the tallest one, obviously in his mid to late teens, in a stare-down. To my surprise, his expression wasn’t that normal angry, removed smugness you see on thugs. He just looked sad. Desperate and sad. I didn’t let that detract me and kept to my regular protocol. Then he said: “Please. Stop. Listen.” In English. Fatigue, frustration and past experiences had told me that I knew better. I continued walking and they let me pass peacefully. But they followed me. And when he began to plead again, I retorted quickly: “Sina pesa.”(I don’t have any money) Then one of the smaller boys said “No. We don’t have money.” Again, in English. So I stopped. “And we don’t wan’t money. We want food. And water.” And then he nodded at the little doggy bag I had in my other hand.

It’s easy to get so preoccupied living your life that you forget that others don’t have that luxury. It’s easy to get so blinded by the overwhelming mischief and deceit, that you overlook the real need of your neighbors. It’s easy to feel helpless and find solace in that excuse. Continue reading