You do not need a lot to be ‘human’

Matred Murungi                                                     

What you need to know:

  • In our time of harvest, let us learn to share. This is not only for the sake of humanity but also to bring change in the communities.

“The poor cannot sleep because they are hungry and the rich cannot sleep because the poor are awake and hungry,” famously said the Nigerian economist Sam Aluko.

This is the reality we are facing in many of our communities and neighbourhoods. The question is, what are we doing about it?

I want to share my story. Back in my small village in Ntaawo, Mukono, I happen to share the neighbourhood with so many families that are under privileged living side by side with those I would say are blessed for the moment. We don’t know what the future holds. 

So, there’s this particular young boy around eight or nine years, nicknamed Pingu. When I moved into the neighbourhood, I found that the young boy was regarded a menace to  every homestead.

 Every neighbour was crying that Pingu has stolen this, Pingu has stolen that. Pingu this, Pingu that. Every bad character was associated with him. I wanted to find out why this young boy was becoming famous for all the wrong reasons. I invited him to share lunch with me and have a chat.

From the deep discussion, I came to realise that Pingu had not been lucky to experience childhood like his counterparts of the same age. He had been exposed to ‘adult problems’  very early in life.

His family cannot afford even two meals a day, in as much as the mother is a very hardworking woman, doing different casual jobs around the village. At that very tender age, Pingu was meant to be in school, unfortunately, he had not got a chance to even step in an elementary school.

All this information did not seat well with me. I tried asking around and established that there was a very affordable primary school, charging not more that Shs150,000 per school term. With my meagre budget, I enrolled Pingu to start Primary One, so that he can have less time, to ‘disturb’ these ‘rich families’.

Today, this young boy is transforming into a responsible citizen, he will probably tell his story later in life.

We have so many Pingus in our neighbourhoods, villages, even families. And do you know what happens when we abandon them? They will continue to look for survival, and that is part of the reason you are having sleepless nights.

I am not saying take up responsibility where you are unable. But what are you doing to salvage the situation? We have put up storeyed buildings, with fences all around and the only time we face reality is when we hear someone has been clobbered as they were trying to enter those fences. And do you know who has clobbered them? That Pingu they bypassed in tinted windows, 20 years ago.

Some families have genuinely tried to create means of survival, but all odds are against them. What they need is just that one push, that sometimes lifetime change.

In our time of harvest, let us learn to share. This is not only for the sake of humanity but also to bring change in the communities where we live.

When you have 50kgs of rice and your next neighbour has not tasted food for a week, know there is trouble. When your kids are being dropped off at school and the neighbours’ children are languishing, just know in future, your children will be spending sleepless nights.  I do not condone crime, neither do I want to encourage laziness but where you can lend a hand, please do.

And I repeat, you do not need to have a lot for you to share. Scan through your environment, get to understand your surroundings. That ‘small’ intervention might avert long-term problems in that community.

This country belongs to us and if we need any change to happen, let it start with us.

Let us go make a difference. That is the spirit of humanity! That is the right thing to do!

Ms Matred Murungi is a communications enthusiast