In May 2011, RSWR field staff, Samson Ababu, and I (Program Director, Cindi Goslee) were driving along a roadway in Kenya having just completed several visits with RSWR project partners over the past week. It had been a wonderful trip with many strong women doing very good work. We had walked through small towns, chatting with young men preening by their motorcycles for hire, greeting children who followed us and meeting with our project partner group members at their vegetable stalls or stores. We had visited with women as they displayed and described numerous income-generating projects. We had also conducted a symposium with over 100 women project partners in which they shared their accomplishments and struggles. It was a joyous drive in which we stopped to admire a mama and baby baboon along the roadside and to laugh with a group of young men washing their motorbikes in a natural spring.
As we rounded a bend in the road, we saw a young boy sitting atop a pile of stones on the roadside. Samson stopped the car and we walked over to the child who was 7 or 8 years old. The little boy had a small pick hammer with which he was breaking the stones into smaller pieces. He was preparing the broken gravel for construction use to sell to lorry (truck) drivers along the roadway. As Samson took the child’s hammer to give stone crushing a try, a boy a bit older (perhaps 9 or 10) walked up. He was the younger boy’s brother.
Samson asked the boys why thy were not in school. The smaller child replied that they had no money for school uniforms, books or fees. When asked if they had eaten that morning, he said they had not. As the children’s mother appeared from the village below, Samson returned the hammer to the child, exclaiming that stone crushing was a very hard job.
He and I dug in our pockets for some cash and I into my backpack for a some almonds. Cash in hand, the mom left to purchase some maize for breakfast and the children munched on the almonds. Samson and I drove on with an even deeper appreciation of the work of the groups we had just visited. With the determination and hard work of the group members and with RSWR’s grant, those women’s children were able to go to school with breakfast in their bellies that day.
We also drove with a heaviness of heart for the family we had just met and the knowledge of children in Kenya (and around the world) whose families cannot afford to feed and send them to school. My prayer is with those thousands of children with no food in their bellies, no means to attend school and the requirement to do back breaking work to help their families. It is also with the efforts of RSWR and other organizations who are working to bring forth economic justice in this world of enormous economic disparity and injustice.