The streets are fun until you become homeless. Imagine sleeping naked on the floor. You risk developing serious health problems. The streets are immeasurably worse. It has become my business visiting and chatting with my street friends lately.
Away from home and at the mercy of the streets, the homeless develop health issues. This means they may not be okay either mentally or physically or both.
According to American Psychological Association,the long term result from the production of stress hormones can lead to terminal diseases like hypertension, heart attack or stroke.
Stressed, traumatized and with no one to count on the street dwellers may not live long enough to tell their tales. With an estimate of 250,000 children on the streets of Nairobi alone, against the thousands of rich tycoons in the capital, it is clear that stretching a helping hand will take less than a pinch of their wealth combined.
Although this might be a personal struggle, I imagine how good it would be if we were even a little concerned with this matter. This indeed is quite difficult in a society which believes in minding its own stomach grabbing it all while others have none.
It prompts me to ask the most vital question in this case. What is the government of Kenya doing to curb homelessness? Of course, better housing is one of the Big Four agenda of the current government. This is a very good plan but the question still remains, what about the people with no homes at all?
‘The last comfort I can remember is that of wet terraces and dirty piles of waste,’ admits one kid (who I will identify as Patrick for confidentiality purposes). ‘Surprisingly enough, you wake up the next day!’ he stresses.
‘Ever wished for a different kind of life or maybe not to wake up at all?’ says another. ‘Such thoughts cross my mind a lot,’ he concludes. To their comfort, there is usually the medicine. When most can afford a wine bar at home and drink themselves silly, Patrick and his friends opt for the glue!
“Ever wished for a different kind of life or maybe not to wake up at all?” says another.
It does not take any convincing for a normal person like me to notice that these kids can barely meet their basic needs. They turn into beggars even as most Kenyans wouldn’t dare help them because of the high rise of street con men parading as street kids!
‘Some people are reluctant to give us anything when we genuinely ask because they have labelled us street thieves. This hurts a lot but there is nothing I can do but to walk away. We live in packs just like wolves so when I don’t get food I might borrow glue from my pack mates,’comments yet another kid, this time a girl. Her attempt to hide her tears is in vain. The willingness to share the little they have among themselves is amazing.
When life gives you lemons make lemonade. And you still want to try make that lemonade. Seriously!? What if life gives you nothing or takes
it all from you? Okay, what if there are no lemons at all? What then do you do?
A change of attitude towards our homeless counterparts would help in this situation. How constantly do you check on your friend, family members or neighbor? They might opt for the streets rather than struggle with daily life strains like stress, pain or even withdrawal!
It would be my joy if more leaders, starting with H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, addressed this matter extensively. It is in human nature to not want to suffer so I feel that if these kids had options they would willingly embrace them. Let’s be humane. Let’s manage these traumatized streets!