Sometimes, I look at the kids we work with and I reflect on my life at their age and their life now. Sometimes their life, their circumstances seem so different to how mine were at their age and I struggle to relate.
I was made to go to school, 5 days a week, 3 terms a year and had to provide a note of absence if I were sick for a day
School kicks you out if school fees aren’t paid, no allowances made
I had a mother who ensured a varied diet. Eat your five-a-day and no pudding till you’ve eaten your greens.
Your mum struggles to provide you with one hot-meal a day, enough to feed your ever-growing little belly.
I had a swing in the back garden, a big toy-box, colouring books, traintrack, doll and pram. Space to play.
The dusty streets of Kibera are your playground, with rocks, coke-bottle tops and footballs made from plastic bags as your toys.
I lived in a house made of brick and shared a room with my sister.
Yours is made of mud, with a leaky roof. You share a room with your mum, your older sister and little brother. Your aunt too, when she’s around.
I feel like I can never really know you, understand you, comprehend the circumstances you live in.
Other times, my word, it’s like there are thirty mini-me’s running round the compound! I guess essentially, kids are kids – the same everywhere. There’s something about children that exhudes energy, life and adventure no matter where you are in the world. We’re not so different.
I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.
You have dreams too, dreams of becoming a doctor. Dreams I hope, I pray, one day you’ll achieve.
I spent hours in the playground skipping and learning new jumping rhymes.
Your skipping rope may not be as fancy as mine was, but I see, you too could spend the day practicing your jumping technique, playing with your friends, as laughter echoes round the playground.
I used to be afraid of monsters living in the cupboard under my grandparents stairs.
Your fears may be different, but they’re still there – I can see it in your eyes. The need for security, to know you’re safe, is just the same as mine.
Yes, we were born a world apart. Sometimes it feels we are a world apart. But it’s just the circumstances we’re born into that shape us, that have the power to determine our futures. I pray that somehow, recognising your potential, we may be able to provide you with the same opportunities, the same hope, the same love that I had. Because really, we’re not so different, little you and me.