Day 10 – Ten days of solitude…



So officially my 10 days with CRK is now over!!!

And it’s been 14 days since I have last cuddled with my husband and my daughter. The anticipation of going back in the arms of my family next week, fills my heart and soul with a warmth that I can not describe in words.

Yet….I will admit… that I will miss living on my own too.

For the last two weeks – I kind of made a routine for myself. I went to work, came back, cooked something simple for myself while blogging.. But the only thing I was really looking forward to every evening was to get in bed with a book!

With the mad rush of my day to day life in UK, it was not really possible to zone myself into a proper reading habit every day. However in Kitale – it’s been ideal! The peaceful environment, the lack of human noise and disturbance made my reading ten fold pleasureable..

I finished 6 books in 2 weeks .. (not bad considering I have been working evenings to get a few things finished for CRK and of course trying my hand with this blogging thing…)

Ultimately what I am trying to say is .. this time spent away from family and friends have given me the space I often crave for… it has given me some time to think about many things .. and some time to think about nothing!

I love my family to bits but I love my own company too…

I was truly content to live in solitude with a few books and some good musics. And will cherish the last 2 weeks not only for the people and friends I have made around in Kitale but also for the alone time it has given me..

As much as I look forward to being in Nairobi tomorrow and then back to UK next week.. I will definitely look back to my 10 days of solitude with fulfilment.

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Day 9 – Stronger and better…

So as you can tell.. instead of buying a posh handbag  or that sparkling pair of shoes .. I used my savings to come to Kenya and to spend two weeks with Child Rescue Kenya.

Ofcourse I respect your decision to do anything you want with your own money! But let me tell you why I chose to do this instead of another normal holiday trip to a beach destination.

In a nutshell – it was to challenge myself- one more time….

To prove to myself that if needed and if required – I can cross oceans to go to a different country in a different culture and yet do something productive and useful. And above all -to prove that even an ordinary person like me can make some difference somewhere in the world.

As we are growing up in our lives – we face many challenges. Like – passing those awful board exams, getting the right marks to get to the desired college/university, winning someone’s heart, making that special person your own, learning to swim, drive, playing guitar or football…. the list is absolutely countless…

Then once we hit our late twenties and early thirties – the challenges we face changes…

The challenge of getting a job, settling in with your partner, buying a decent house and a car, raising kids and what not…

But you know what? Amidst these all – one day will come when you will realise that even though many years have surpassed and you have overcome many hurdles .. you really haven’t challenged yourself to your maximum.

It is really very easy to get into that low-risk and easy rhythm of life once you achieved the structured and socially accepted challenges…..

The monotonous and safe cycle of : Office – home – weekend – office – home – weekend..and maybe an odd vacation now and then…

I am not saying that it is bad; or not good enough; by any means. But is it really adequate and enough?

Just think… why does most of us stop pursuing new challenges after a certain age? There are millions of exceptions I know.. but yet there are many more millions of us who are just happy to stay within that low risk easy life cycle I mentioned earlier.

Just like most people I faced many challenges in my life too. And some challenges were harder than others and without doubt shaped me to be who I am today.

Staying mentally strong and focused on the future after my father’s sudden death was a big challenge to me. Not many people know what inner demons I fought to come to terms with that tragedy.

Or how hard it was for me to focus back into my life and studies when I got my heart broken for the first time…

Sometimes it is easy to think that physical challenges are the hardest- like climibing Mt Everest or swimming across the oceans. Yes I fully appreciate the dedication and endurance it takes to undertake such challenges but nothing can compare to the mental blocks and challenges we face in our lives everyday.

As I was saying – I think challenging myself is important for my self growth. Personally it feeds my soul. It makes me happy with myself.

After my father’s death – coming abroad to pursue higher studies was a challenge. Settling in a new job in a new culture within a new country was a challenge. Pursuing my professional qualifications while being heavily pregnant was a challenge …

Each time I started a new job or a new role in my professional life has been challenging too.  For instance each time I have made a mistake or each time I have asked a colleague a question… I knew I was growing.

I knew I was learning and getting stronger. I was not stuck in a job where I knew everything about .. each new task, new responsibility was shaping me into a better, more learned me..

And now… coming to Kenya was a challenge too.. a challenge which is sadly coming to an end..

Tomorow is my last day in Child Rescue Kenya and I am truly amazed how much I have learned in the last few days..

Apart from the work aspect – I have come to learn a lot about myself too.

I know my limitations (English toilet only please! ) and also my other strengths …

And the satisfaction of knowing these …have been worth thousand times more than the experiences I have gained from my other holiday trips..ever!

Now that my current challenge to myself is almost accomplished..

I know exactly what my next challenge to myself will be once I am back from Kenya..(if my husband is reading it I am sure he is already sweating and most probably swearing under his breath )

Let me know if you would like to know about that too..and I will maybe blog that journey too..

The bottom line is – No matter how old I am and what I face in life – I hope I can keep on proving to myself that with each challenge I will be stronger and better! And nothing is quite impossible for me…

err.. except maybe stroking the big cats when I am in Nairobi National park next week or the small cats when I am back to UK!!

 

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Day 8 – Go ahead and hate me….

If you walk down any street in London (or any cosmopolitan city for that matter) and count how many ladies are carrying an ‘exclusive’ luxury handbag … fake or real… I think you will be rather surprised and realize how non-exclusive it has become these days!!

It seems to me that all the ladies I know either own a MK bag of some kind and/or has  a pair of Jimmy Choo somewhere in her shoe rack..

So basically it gives me the feeling that having a luxury logo is not really a luxury anymore but more of a common place requirement to belong to a certain socioeconomic group, to prove that you are part of the modern world success group and to show the world your achievements.

I am pretty sure that a promotion often means treating yourself to $700 Louboutins these days and expecting a $1400 Prada bag from your husband is no great expectation either.

Now, don’t be fooled into for a second that the male population is spared from this bug..

You wear a Rolex? Think you have earned it with your own success and money? Got a brand new BMW, Audi or a Mercedes to show off? My darlings.don’t fret….you are equally contaminated with the ‘irrational’ disease of luxury branding 🙂

We all know that people don’t behave rationally all the time, and considering the enormous debts the citizens of first world countries have, consumers clearly don’t always act in their best financial interests. Luxury goods are a great example of how irrational we can be; a decent and sturdy handbag can be purchased for $50, yet people will still spend thousands to buy a logo. Why? No wonder the global demand for luxury goods is strong and rapidly growing, with over $200 billion in annual sales each year!

So why are  you all willing to pay extra for a brand? The jewelry in my store might be as beautiful and as well made as the branded names, yet customers will walk past my store to shop for branded merchandise at a store down the street, sometimes paying more for a product no better than the one I carry. A solitaire is a solitaire, but put it into a powder blue-colored box and suddenly it has added value. Why?

I think here’s a few reasons –

1) Wearing branded merchandise sets you in a specific economic category, a certain rung on the socioeconomic ladder. It tells others where you are on the economic scale. There is a certain pecking order in society and wearing branded merchandise tells those with whom you come in contact that you are in a lower group, the same group or a higher socioeconomic group than they are, depending upon the prestige and price point of the items worn.

2) It allows you to feel as though you fit into society and belong to the group. Humans aren’t solitary animals any more than monkeys are. Wearing similar and familiar brands helps you to relate to others in the group and feel a part of something larger than ourselves.

3) There is, of course, the sense of  pride of ownership. Everyone wants to own beautiful and well-made things, and branded merchandise tends to be of high quality. There is a sense of pride when you walk up to the three-pronged hood ornament that decorates your shiny Mercedes. Each time you shut the car door and hear that classic “thud” it gives you the sense that you have purchased a well-made machine. Every morning when you get up and slip that stainless steel and gold watch over your hand and hear it snap solidly onto your wrist, you take a moment just to appreciate its art.

4) Branding takes the thinking out of a purchase. When a man goes shopping for his wife and he knows she likes a certain brand, he doesn’t have to think any further than the brand name. Anything that has that particular name on it will please his wife. Our society has turned over thinking to the few designers who rule our fashion world. Individuals no longer think about what is good design or bad; if it has some well-advertised name on it, it must be good. It’s gotten to a point that you now wear sweaters with names across the front and no design at all.

So really… what does that make you? What are you becoming?

Shouldn’t you try to free yourselves from this unnatural and irrational phenomenon? Or you think staying enslaved in the world of luxury  brands and looking all posh and pretty and classy is better?

Go ahead… hate me for pointing it out to you.

But before you go – can you maybe spare the change from your luxury purchase below????

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/food-education-orphan-children-hiv-aids-rights-home/

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Day 7 – Fifty Shades Darker…


Yesterday my mom gave a me midnight call…. (Well.. midnight for me..but 3 am for her!)

Me and my mom normally talk every lunch time – even if for two seconds – but due to the time difference and my commitments in Kenya it is rather difficult to continue that routine.

Anyhow, so she called me, and we caught up on everything and everyone. She asked me about my work, my lodge, the food and all…. (being the mother ofcourse…)

So when I told her I am spending a lot of time outside in the sun and taking the motorbike to and back from work each day  she teased me that I will be so tanned that I will be as dark as the locals…

I laughed and said I am rather glad that I am blending in so well..

But it really got me thinking… how the perception of skin colour is different in various cultures and societies…

Now let me remind you .. I am a simple person with very limited brain capacity. All big controversies and issues around the world like race, religion, politics etc are usually beyond me..

Even English is too complex for me! And I find it difficult to get my head around English words..

For instance I don’t really understand how the word ‘light’ or ‘fair’ got it’s positive connotation from, whereas somehow ‘black’ or ‘dark’ ended up  with negative meanings associated with it.

We say things like “Black magic” to refer to something bad… whilst “White” is all about light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection. White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, it is a positive word.. 🙁 But did you ever wonder why?

I am no linguist and have limited knowledge about this but I still think somehow it is such usage of words in languages that has  given birth to racism. Or could it be the other way round?

Darker people are being considered inferior to the fairer ones and I wonder could it simply because of the words used to represent? Statics prove how the standard of living and pay scales can differ based on skin colour only!

Racial, gender wage gaps persist in U.S. despite some progress

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/money/2016/feb/01/pay-gap-black-white-uk-workers-widens-more-qualifications?client=safari

http://money.cnn.com/2015/11/24/news/economy/blacks-whites-inequality/

I know nowadays there are campaigns like “dark is beautiful and all that.. but why are we even needing these campaigns in the first place?

Why is colour a factor in determining a person? And how, when and why did ‘black’ became inferior , ‘white’ superior and ‘brown’ just mediocre?

So as I was saying earlier.. that conversation with my mum left me thinking all these and more…

Will me becoming few shades darker in the sun will mean anything to anybody??

I am pretty sure I live in an environment and among people to whom it will not matter at all.

I am guessing that most  people will not even notice.. Or maybe someone will notice it and will wonder…how ‘dark’ Rubaiyat is now!!!

But have I really gone ‘dark’ or is it ‘light’??

You look at my skin and you see a darker Rubaiyat.  But look again… into my heart and my soul… what do you see? Looking within myself I see more light…I have found more light in this darkness than many other places.

I am dark so I am enlightened…I am dark so I am now privileged and experienced. I am now better… with the knowledge of  a new country, new culture, new people, new working environment and also a new me – who knows she can adopt to any changes and with anyone around her…

So when you see me next – I wonder whether you will see the darkness or the light within?

Remember that the word ‘dark’ is not necessarily dark….  Within this darkness hides a lot of ‘light’….

Today I am 50 shades darker.  And yet 100 times lighter….

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Day 6 – It’s Monday again…

Good Morning All..

It’s Monday again…. and I am sure most of you are back to work after a good (never long enough) weekend.

I had a good weekend in Kitale too. Saturday was spent in Mount Elgon National Park (http://www.kws.go.ke/content/mount-elgon-national-park) and then Sunday was a lazy day in bed reading books in peace 🙂

Now back to CRK and trying to get some work done.

Will not write much as you must be all busy .. just like me ….after all it is monday again….

 

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Day 5 – Sorry Tesco for cheating!!

I can’t believe it will be Friday tomorrow and I will have completed the first week of my placement in CRK!

When you are working towards a greater cause you are driven to change the world and move mountains. But in reality nothing like that happens. All good and sustainable things takes time to be built.. whether a good home, a business or a simple accounting process.

I am on track with my work load in Child Rescue Kenya – but then Eric and I are both pragmatic and conversative accountants 😉 who know that in two weeks there’s only so much we can review and implement.

Saying all that…at this point I will cheat and say .. Every Little Helps!!!

(Sorry Tesco for cheating and using your slogan) but you know what?  It is sooooo true!!  Every Little step does help to move things towards the right direction and achieve that ultimate goal. Whether is it work, studies, passion, personal improvement .. start small but carry on .. never give up and that will indeed take you where you want to be..

Initially I thought I am a nobody… and what help can I offer to CRK? .. but the colleagues here are so friendly, grateful and appreciative that I realise that even a little recommendation I am offering is being taken with respect and sincerity. I am only the beginning of the change in CRK and my little effort is only getting the wheels in motion – which must not stop.

I urge you to do something good today.. no matter how small….

Doesn’t matter whether you are a doctor, teacher, dancer, singer, dietician, chef, engineer or a boring accountant like me!

We can all help in little ways and every little does help!!

Go to a remote village and cook for some famished street kids if you are a chef, teach how to dance and sing if need be – so that kids on the roads are involved and not diverted to drugs. If you are a doctor or a engineer – fix someone or something! We can all do our own bits and we must do it!

Never understate or underestimate yourself. (I am usually guilty of this).

You might not be a superpower compared to many..but remember somewhere someone will always appreciate your little gesture  if you offer your services and skills for a good cause.

And as the saying goes .. one more time… “Every Little helps!!!”

 

 

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Day 4 – Food for work 🍛🍛😋😋

After spending two great days with the children I am back to where I belong… in front of the computer ofcourse 👩🏻‍💻👩🏻‍💻👩🏻‍💻👩🏻‍💻😂😂😂…

I got a great insight into the programs run by CRK now and that gives me more motivation to help this brilliant organisation as much as I possibly can.

If my effort enhances CRK’s efficiency and effectiveness in its financial processes, reporting and internal control even slightly I will feel that I have done something good for the kids even if indirectly .. as good solid financial reporting will attract more donors and hence funding…

Anyway, as I was saying – I am in front of my computer. Me and Eric – the financial guru in CRK finalised our priorities, identified a few quick wins to improve efficiencies and also wrote up the work plan for the remaining week and a half.

It is all going great from my side and the colleagues in the office are great fun to work with..

Everyone is super friendly and shakes hands each time we meet in greetings. It is great to see and experience such a lovely culture.

So these new friendly colleagues of mine have decided to feed me to death!

Their hospitablity is incomparable and … and every lunch time I am experiencing this 😀😀😋😋.

Protus and Martin – the great chefs are ensuring that I get fed for the work I am doing.  And the Kenyan food is sooo good and so like Bangladeshi food that I am not complaining at all…Kenyan Ugali is simply yum!

Thanks CRK and all of its members… – for welcoming me with such warm hearts and hands..

I am eternally grateful and I know I have got some friends for life now…

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Day 3 – Birunda Rescue Centre

You see that little man washing his plate after lunch? He was found in a forest tied by the ankle to a tree some months ago….

One of his arm was broken and no one could tell how long he was like that – tied to a tree covered in his own feces and mud…

This little man is only three years old.

And today –  he has a home in Birunda Rescue Centre…..

It was completely my privilege that I could spend a day with the amazing people who work in the centre and with the families to rehabilitate these traumatized back into a world where they can atleast have some childhood…

I can’t write anymore today….

It is amazing how these children still smile amidst such horror….so much to learn from them…….

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Day 2 – Street Smart

Think you are thirteen and living on the streets…

Will you ‘tolerate’ some art/learning time and maybe a few inquisitive questions about youself for some free snacks and a hearty lunch?

I definitely would …

and that is exactly what being ‘Street Smart’ is all about.

Street Smart is also a  program of Child Rescue Kenya that ‘sources’ the children who are to be rescued from the streets – either back to their families or in the. rescue shelter.

The objective of this program is to identify and engage the fresh kids out on the street everyday -before they can become addicted to substance and goes astray..

On my first day at Child Rescue Kenya office – I exchanged greetings with the Director and also all other colleagues working on the different programmes of the organisation.

The first natural stop was to spend the day with the Street Smart to see, feel and understand what they do at street level each day.

Let me just mention here that this is a team of three amazing ladies- who may not be doctors but are similarly saving several lives every single day……..

They will make people realize that one doesn’t always need higher education or qualifications to make a difference.

So each morning Elizabeth, Victoria and Billah (and today me tagging along) go for their morning round – walking the streets of Kitale town.

They look out for new children on the streets, talk to them and also engage old known street kids to come to the Street Smart office for a shower, free food and some activities like learning alphabets or drawing…

I don’t know how the other days go but today there was a buzz because “mgeni”- meaning the foreign visitor- aka me – is here too.

I got many many handshakes, most wanted to know my name and talk to me.  Some hugged and kissed and touched my hair and wanted me to take their photos. There were a few hostile ones who didn’t like being on photos – most probably because they were high on glue sniffing.

Walking over old railway tracks, open markets and dodgy corners we got a few new additions and assurance from old ones saying they will come for lunch.  we went stopped at ‘gateway hotel’ where free snacks were being distributed to street kids for free (sponsored by a Good Samaritan).

We helped out serving the kids and then walked back in SS office – (which includes a room with a long table, a bench and a few plastic chairs, another room to hold the jaricans of water bought by the organisation for showers and drinking and lastly a classroom) to do some drawings and to have lunch.

The boys were all drawing different things for me and I was seriously impressed with the latent of a few. What impressed me the most was that if any child was even slightly regular for a few days a week SS team managed to teach them to write their names and to write and read the  basics…

These amazing ladies then also did some counselling on a one to one level with the new kids to write their case reports before deciding what is the best way of keeping them safe.

For instance – today there were 3 new kids who came to Kitale because their father died in December. They never knew their mother and now with their father dead – they are on the streets of Kitale looking for an unknown aunty whom they can’t name or locate. The eldest sibling who is 7 is a girl with two brothers of 6 and maybe 5!!! Such tender age to be orphaned and to have no relatives to take them back in.. SS team decided to send them to Berunda -the rescue centre- straight away.

Saying the above – it is not always a success story of rehabilitation.  As an example Victoria mentioned that just last week they sent one boy home after a lot of coaxing. Only to see him back on the streets again today..:( When asked why he is not home -he said that his parents didn’t want him and told him to go away!!!

There are thousand and one stories like these.

And I wish I could share atleast some of the ones I got to know about today with you all….but  truth is it is not possible in this blog.

Just like the harsh truth that even tonight hundreds of children as little as 4 or 5 years will be out on the street on their own not only in Kitale but also in many many other countries of the world.

Think about it when you go to bed today……

And if you really think hard enough…. I promise you will change at a cellular level.

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