Thursday, 21 November 2013

Life & A taxi ride in Mombasa



This week I had an opportunity of working from town, which as you know in my job rarely happens. So the previous weekend, I rushed to Kongowea to look for '100 bob' official trousers, blouses and shoes to don during my stint at the center of the Mombasa business hub. They say the first impression is a lasting impression, so I was determined to present myself to the organizations we were capacity building, as someone who knew what she was talking about. To say the least I was excited.
One evening, while on my ride back home experiencing the ever growing "jamming" of Mombasa, I could not help enjoying myself. This was the perfect opportunity to delve into my own world...to build my castles, present and argue my cases before myself and fight my demons. So I switched into a daze, turned my eyes towards the almost blinding, almost beautiful lights of the numerous cars stuck in the jam and started day dreaming.
The taxi driver, uncomfortable with the silence I guess, tried putting on some music to console himself to no avail. He attempted a conversation, which I ignored, pretending to fall asleep. A statement about the traffic here, about Mombasa there and eventually he hit the jackpot!
"What is your greatest fear Maureen?" He asked.
I immediately sat upright and looked at him straight in the face and laughed! So hard he couldn’t help joining me!
"Nothing" I curtly told him. He went on to bubble about how everyone has a fear of something or another, not knowing that he was opening a well so deep he was about to drown!
You see, of late I have been thinking about the life, its meaning, and all those things that I have come to realize most people are either afraid to talk or even think about and what really is our purpose on this earth.
He was a newly born Christian and was very excited to tall me about the purpose of God for us and how, we will eventually live on earth forever. That heaven will be here on earth and that there is no hell. Apparently according to him, hell was not a fire really, but dying forever.
Now me being me, started challenging him. From issues about the beginning of the earth, to whether Adam and Eve were that first people on earth and where is it written that hell is a burning fire! We went on and on.
Now for those who do not know me. I just love arguments. I am very good at arguing a point just for the sake of arguing...not because I believe any part of it. Someone once said that the evidence of intelligence is being able to entertain a n idea or a thought even though it goes against what you believe in, and as any of us, I love thinking myself intelligent :-0

Anyway, my point in all this is usually simple, to show people that things do not necessarily have to be the way you think them to be, heck, most of the times they are not even how you think them to be. And acknowledging this, I think, is the beginning of a rather exciting adventure.

Life is a matter of perception, eventually,  you see. I strongly believe from the bottom of my heart that we all see this world very differently….where as I see a calm beautiful sunny day, someone else might be seeing a horrifying blinding burning furnace of an afternoon in Mombasa.
Now this is nothing new, I know, but you never really know its meaning unless you have the opportunity of experiencing it, entertaining people's views and outlooks of life, it is just indescribable!!!
So back to the taxi driver, after taking him through a marathon of what he thought were contradictions and me as a very very  very troubled soul he says, i concluded by telling him this;
  • Eventually, all this is vanity, as the wisest man put it. When you drop dead and die, the world does not stop for you, it goes on and forgets you like a drops of sweat that eventually drip to the hot sands that drink them up leaving no trace of their existence. At times i think that we are just collateral damage to prove a point in what a friend of mine termed as a battle of egos!
  • What is really important is a personal relationship with your God, and as in any healthy relationship it has to  be two way and it has to be real.
  •  Lastly, there is nothing that you and I could do to make God love you any less or hate you any more. Stop trying to buy his love or bribing him, life will be much easier if you just let His will be done.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

My attempts at finding a life partner


Lately, I have developed quite a number of new hobbies that I strangely have come to love so much because they lend me some kind of badly needed escapism. And one of them is drinking wine! Yes...these days you want me in on your plots, bring along some wine and am taken.
So the other day, while having a good time over a few bottles of wine, we started discussing things to do with love and eventually marriage. What my friends kept on insisting is that marriage has nothing to do with love but everything to do with fondness and tolerance. Yes, Fondness and Tolerance! So disappointing, right? Well, all of life is, eventually, a disappointment in some way, so we have to deal with it.
 Now , it got me thinking, how does one go about selecting a life partner then? How do you know that he is the one to be fond with and tolerate?!!! I am not sure, but i thought it was worth sharing

So it took me down memory lane, looking at the trend that I have been setting , and here is how my attempt at choosing a life partner has been so far..

You know those dreams you have when growing up? Yes, those ones. Tall dark and handsome? Or some weird combinations of some sort, yeah?
Well the thing is, for me,  i always had a thing for overconfident, arrogant and too full of themselves guys. They always struck my eye...always drew me to them, maybe its some psychological issues about authority or something, am not sure, but they always made my blood rush.
And here is how it went...
There is one that i found in bed with his girl  'friend'...Oh, and by the way, i politely said hi to her after she was done.
There is this other one who was a pathological liar...he just had a habit of building castles in the air and actually living in them it was just so sad.
And another one who just could not control his tear buds...he broke down over any and all issues. I literally had to man up here.
Then there is the one who just did not have time for me...why i called him my boyfriend in the first place, i don't know.

And then there is the flavor of the moment. I just cant seem to sum him up really!!!
This guy i have been seeing  for 1,247 days now. Yes...it is like forever, (and it is a first for me), yet I have never gotten to that point where i can say...i know this guy.

More than half of the time we have been together, we have been apart. Which to me is a good thing, because frankly, i just can not imagine seeing someone every weekend, or maybe everyday for 365 days in a year.
Growing up, I saw my 'father' averagely once in three years! So I think that explains my dilemma.
It would have been so boring i think. Which is one of the reasons why i keep having so many question marks about this marriage thing, but that is a topic for another day.

I just hope that eventually, i will end up with that one person who will be able to deliver on what it apparently is all about, be fond of me and tolerate my nonsense.


Monday, 4 November 2013

My specialty, my calling!


I have always believed that if you can see it, then you can get it. I developed the habit of creating mental images of what I want very early in life. If I wanted a new dress, then I would imagine myself in a new dress ( including color and pattern) days or even months before it even happened. I created mental images of all the things I aspired for.., and I mean all!!! If I really wanted it then I would have a very detailed picture of it.
However, I never had a specific image of what I wanted to be when I grow up. At times I saw myself as an artist (heheh! I do good drawings and paintings at times,, by the way), and others as a secretary, a nurse or something else! I never had a clear picture of what I wanted to become, but during my last years of campus, I had this recurring image.
"I would see myself dressed in 6 inch heels, an impeccable short skirt suit, long sleek hair and bright red lipstick. In this picture, I was always walking on a long modern high tech corridor rushing to a meeting, which I would be chairing. I loved this image, to me, it gave a sense of an accomplished young woman who was happy with where she was,  knew what she wanted, and was not afraid to go for it."

Fast track 2 years down the line and here I was going to work in jeans and a t-shirt wearing rubber shoes and a 'leso' to top it up! The modern high tech corridor replaced by very dusty footpaths.
For quite a while, I could not put into words exactly what I did for a living. I remember once, an organizational auditor asked me what my area of specialization is, and I broke down into laughter.
Eventually, I decided to tell him that I am in programs!!! According to me then, i had no specialization really, I was not doing what I studied for and I had not studied what I was doing! The best I could say to someone about what I did was I work with an NGO, full stop.

I finally figured it out, and here it is. I work in the livelihoods department  of a national NGO, in a project that aims at empowering women in the rural part of Mtwapa, Kilifi County.
 I implement an approach called the Self Help Approach that aims at establishing an institution of rural women who are empowered economically, socially and politically to enable them raise their voices towards the change they want, which includes addressing their household and community needs thereby eradicating poverty, increasing household income while empowering the girl child and woman in rural Kenya.
Now my job in this grand plan is to do everything and anything necessary to ensure that this big picture is achieved. So I do everything...from sweeping tree shades for a meeting, to sitting in national and international forums, from office administration to accounts, you name it, I do it. My everyday interactions are with village folk; men, women and children, under the scorching sun, in school compounds, at water points, in their shambas and in village barazas.

And my days, well, they are unpredictable. Sometimes I get to sit in the office to write lengthy reports, go door knocking on different offices or travel all over Kenya spreading the approach to rural women. However, most of my days begin with a one hour 'bodaboda' ride to either one of the 13 villages that I work with in rural Mtwapa. There, I tie my Kanga and sit down with the village women and discuss about everything … their aspirations, dreams, challenges, opportunities and their action plans. But sometimes, we just sit in their huts and do nothing but talk about their husbands!!! :-)

Well, this is definitely not what I had in mind when I was picturing my career, but I think here, in the midst of abundant laughter and scarce resources, I found my calling. There is something so amazing about a child smiling up at you as you wipe off mucus from his nose, and about a grown up woman calling you aside to ask for your opinion about something, that I just cherish.

Here, i mastered the art of speaking my mind without fear, I learnt to say 'no' and firmly stick to my decisions, I learnt to accept praise with humility and my failures with my head held high. I learnt to bear the joys and burdens of leadership without complaining. I developed a steady hand, a persevering heart, strong shoulders and a quick foot,  and most of all I learnt what my job exactly entails, which is to change the the lives of these people, these families, these communities.

 To tell you the truth, I think the only suit I remember wearing was the one I wore during the period when I was job hunting, and it was a borrowed one, by the way! However,  I think 14 year old me would be very proud to see me today, an accomplished young woman who is aware of who she has become,  thinks she knows what she wants, and is not afraid to go for it!
Granted,  I am still trying to figure out what my area of specialization should or could be, but right now i have learnt to be everything to someone and something to everyone, just at the moment when it is needed.