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Fill a truck: voyage to save a child

Day1: Thursday 29 September 2011

My journey to deliver the truck load carrying a lifeline to thousands of children facing starvation in Kenya begins on a sunny Thursday morning at slightly after 1000hrs.

I’m travelling with Colin, our multimedia officer, to capture the truck’s journey. I’ll be depending on his camera-clicking prowess to capture moments that I shall put together to tell the story of our journey to save thousands of children’s lives.

I was just as eager to see what suprises the journey might hold and what it would be like in reality. Until now the closest I had got to Kenya’s North Eastern Province was courtesy of heart-wrenching images in the media.

I consider myself Nairobi-City-phobic by virtue of residing in the village and, by an equal stroke of luck, because I work outside the city centre. It had  been quite a while since I last took a trip down Thika Road – now proudly the Nairobi superhighway.   

The start of our road trip

I can’t help but imagine how better life shall become with the completion of the road circuit. Silently, I hope that the same way I’ll tell my daughter tales of a nightmarish city full of traffic jams, shall be same way the children in north-eastern Kenya and the rest of Africa shall hear of starvation.

Life-saving cargo

Along with the October rains holding up for an unknown time before pouring, the clouds equally seem to have reached a consensus not be seen together. It’s a long time before a cloud cluster gathers to sheild the harsh rays of the sun, worsened by the industrial fumes of Thika Town.

We take a break to recharge and cool off and I take some time to engage the driver who’s new residence has become the truck that has been ferrying relief supplies since the drought began at the beginning of the year.

With such long and draining journeys, you’d expect him to wear a long face and to be waiting with bated breath for the end so that he an drive back home to his family. But, on the contrary, he tells me he derives tons of pleasure on such trips since he knows every time that many lives are dependent on his cargo.

We drive through the small town of Mwingi on the Garissa road exactly at school breaktime. We see hundreds of children on their way back home. Barefeet and scorched by the an unforgiving  sun, I imagine how much effort they each put in at school in the hope of improving their lives and, subsequently, of the next generation.

A child’s life

With another 98km to Garissa town, we make a stopover to capture some of the sights and sounds that mark the  end of the day. I share a pack of sugarcane with some children who stop by asking for the inevitable mbao (20 shillings).

Another bunch of children play a round of hopscotch, gathering a  final layer of dirt just before making up a story for their mothers at bath time. I watch another child rolling on a rock and chanting a happy song – maybe that the weekend’s just about the corner when he can play all he wants.

Watching all these children,one can’t help but notice the simplicity that characterises their life. Come out of school tired, get dirty and head home, expecting everything to be ready for them, which I believe should be every child’s life.

With all these images as a backdrop to my thinking and writing, I have a deep conviction that if every one of us committed to make at least one child’s life better it would be very achievable.

It’s now getting dark and the only sign of life are the stars, which I never get to see because of the city lights, so I take in as much I can, evoking memories of  nights during my primary school years when I’d try to identify the constellations taught in a science class.

 Just a thought: You and I have no other way to change the world but by saving each child at a time.

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