Thursday, 16 August 2018

Kenya reflections 3: Sidi and family

Kenya reflections 3: Sidi and family
Visiting Sidi was possibly the most moving experience of my time in Kenya. She is the lady who is a widow with three sons; she also lives with epilepsy and (a reflection of the dire straits she was in) has one hand which she can no longer use, having fallen into a fire while suffering an epileptic fit. She was unable to afford treatment for it. In fact, I learnt while talking to her that the doctor who eventually saw her wanted to perform an amputation.

Sid's three sons are a complete credit to her. All are bright, hard working and "disciplined" (a description given by so many of their teachers). Her oldest son, Mwando, is at Shimo la Tewa secondary school. This is a "national" school, one of the highest tier, and his place there was made possible through the personal intervention of Jane, the head teacher, who contacted a friend at the school, and through two sponsors who pay his school fees. Secondary education in Kenya is not free. Her second son, Saidi, is even brighter than his older brother (a poor test result for him is a score of 490 out of 500). The youngest son, Idd, is also a capable student.

The family live in a tiny mud hut. Their only furniture is a bed frame (which they all share) and a wooden bench (at which the boys study). When I heard about the family, the two older boys were selling water after school each day to earn enough money to buy some food.
I paid for the setting up of a boda boda business (motorcycle taxi) for the family, along with the necessary insurance. Susan helped Sidi to set up a bank account and taught her how to deposit her income. Another teacher found a rider for the bike. This rider pays Sidi a set amount each week from his takings. The remainder of the money he keeps and uses to buy fuel. A third teacher has mentored Sidi in budgeting and planning purchases.
We visited Sidi at her home. She was proud to show me the sack of flour she has - "My family now eats twice each day, which we have never been able to do before." She asked me to look round her hut, "So that when you return you will see the improvements I will make." I noticed the hole in the roof. The lack of furniture (Sidi's first planned purchase is to be a table for her boys to do their homework at). I also noted the vast numbers of books which the boys have found and from which they study.

I was told that Saidi studies by kerosene lamp each evening till midnight, and rises at 5am to study before going to school - so I bought the family a solar lamp. Saidi's face when I told him what I was intending to do was pure delight.
Sidi has not settled for the income from the boda boda business. She has started growing vegetables outside her home. She buys a few extra vegetables every week and sells them to her neighbours. And she has begun to collect plastic water bottles which she sells for recycling. Susan told me that Sidi now has hope again - and this has enabled her to do more to help her family.


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