“Here’s the shopping center,” our driver says as we approach the ramshackle cluster of buildings with no sign on the horizon of a town or a village. We’re on safari in the Masai Mara. I’d thought to find Kenya a bit more prosperous than Mali, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
We see stick-thin children, distended bellies, missing limbs, runny noses, and smiles. How can they possibly have anything to smile about?
We see men wobbling along on bicycles with impossibly huge loads, others pushing their bikes as the load they carry is too heavy and unwieldy to allow riding. We see a long line of men and women digging a narrow ditch with pick-axes and shovels. It’s for fiber optic cable.
Wood smolders beneath a huge pile of dirt. Several trees will produce a few bags of inefficient soft charcoal. Where are the solar ovens?
“It’s illegal to throw out food in Kenya,” we are told. What food?
We have so much. They have so little.
The extremes seem insurmountable. What can one individual do?
I know what I can do. I can truly appreciate what I have in Canada and the good fortune I had to be born here. I can put my money where my mouth is and donate. For me, that means KIVA.
I can help others directly; the young man in Nigeria who sends me chapters to edit, the young family in Mexico who don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, and, closer to home, the Salvation Army, the food bank….
And I can write—my blog and my novels—trying to show the other side of the coin. Perhaps through the power of words, I can influence people in our lands of plenty to care and to help.
KIVA: Loans that change lives: http://www.kiva.org/start