I haven’t been here I weeks. I came in once to motivate myself with a new layout and left again to go attend to things that I don’t care about but put food on the table. I can’t really explain it but for some reason, as I took time to these things I find myself focusing a lot more on things that matter. So the other day I get a distress call for help, because I looked at what I had to do and at what was being done, this call was priority, up and off I went to help.
I was reminded of my time in Garissa early this year. In a small village, the locals are not too far to River Tana; And I know, yeah most of my local audience are wondering, a river in Garissa? Yes… that’s the surprising thing. They say Garissa is hot, there, its sticky humid coz of the croc-infested river that’s winding down to Indian Ocean, ok, not really infested, but there are crocs. So back to me, forget the Garissanians, I remembered my 5 hour drive up to Sombo.
The first thing that you ask yourself as the desert heat begins to wear down on you is that the houses are quickly getting fewer in view from the road, and more so sparsely populated. We made a lunch stopover in Garissa town for lunch and I asked myself, where did all these people come from? There were such few houses on our way.
I shrugged it off and after having my rice and camel meat stew, we made our way further away from the road, this village is about one and a half hours drive from Garissa…. The locals in the village are haggard and dusty from the scorching heat from the sun reflecting off the sandy grounds…. They hide in the manyatta’s, keeping away from the scorching sun.
From a distance, you see the greenery filling the land but as you get closer, you find sprawling on the ground is a thorny poisonous plant known as “mathenge”… locals tell tales of tractors that loose their wheels to the thorns that grow up to 3-5 inches long and goats that die from “mathenge poisoning”. It slowly hit me that it was not really hot, but it was humid… we moved closer to a gaping “canyon”, about 10m deep and 50m wide at the bottom of which there is a meandering river lazing its way down to the Indian Ocean.
As we walk upstream we got to an open 2 acre field with what looked like scare-crows, I remembered reading about them in my childhood story books, Enid Blyton’s Famous five…. Back to the crux of the matter… this was a shamba (aka garden, to my international reader) but there was very little growing on this plot. We got to a cluster of trees and stood to talk.
Our host told us of how they have seen several NGO’s come onboard to provide funding, materials and training for farming. The locals however don’t retain the knowledge, this pushed away and finally the money came and went. This 5 acre piece of land that had a few plants in it struggling to make it had no one to care for it. The host made enough for his household but birds, guinea pigs and other animals came to destroy the crop, whenever he would put up a scarecrow, someone would pull it down. It was clear, the locals didn’t want to make it on their own. The relief food was a dependency for them.
A manyatta not too far away was insulated with relief food sacks, all with the US flag. This implied that these guys didn’t even rely on our relief food. Aid companies had been bringing in food from outside the country. The locals were so used to sitting and being fed they didn’t know any other way of survival, telling them to work was breaking their only source of livelihood.
#Lesson: too much of something makes it the norm… thought> action> habit> character.. change your thinking