Every morning, as a part of my commute, I pass the same boy. He seems to be about 16 years old and he sits on the same stoop in downtown Nairobi with a tin cup at his feet with a few shillings in it. He wears the same blue hooded sweatshirt and green slacks. The boy sits in silence and stares forward as the business suits of Nairobi pass him; some giving a shilling, some not. The boy is blind. His eyes are swollen and open just enough to show two slits of white to the world.
The first time I saw him, my heart ached. Then, I saw him day after day, sitting on the same stoop, with the same blue sweatshirt and the same tin cup. Regretfully, human nature took its toll and I became desensitized to the boy. He turned from being the tragic character of my morning commute to just being a landmark reminding me that I was 25 minutes away from my destination.
I don’t like that feeling. I believe in individualism. Yet in my own mind, I let that boy go from being an individual with some unique needs to just being a fixture of Kenyatta Avenue. I feel sick for it. I feel guilty for no longer struggling to pass him with confidence. I feel guilty for forgetting that he is an individual with some mass of potential and worth. After seeing him day after day, he became a part of just another statistic. In spite of their necessity, I don’t like statistics for their base generalizations.
One statistic that I have read several times in the past couple of months is 60,000. There are an estimated 60,000 children in Nairobi living on the streets. That’s more people than live in Idaho Falls, the town I grew up in. It’s hard to fathom what that 60,000 actually represents. It doesn’t just represent a mass of homeless children; it actually represents unique children with histories and hopes that are individual to them only. It is important for me, and others, to remember that the statistic is more than a cold, base number. It is a symbol of something much greater.
I don’t want to forget that the children in the streets of Nairobi are more than a statistic. To do this, I am going to highlight some of the children I have met in the streets. In the next few weeks, I will try to show you what makes each child unique. I hope you will read some of their stories. I’m going to begin by introducing you to Eric.
Posted By Jonathan Homer
Posted Aug 2nd, 2007