The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Family’

Too Woman to Love?


As I write this, my heart is broken.

Broken for I’ve recently recovered from a season where my heart was broken.

Broken as I now to witness yet another good woman’s heart break.

Break with grief after her beloved and family suddenly woke up blind to call her a “bad mother.”

Bad mother? What does that even mean? 

Mean to a woman who carried this child in her womb for 9 months. 

Months of pain, uncertainty, sacrifice, love and hope.

Hope that her baby would be welcomed into a safe haven of love.

Love that has now turned bitter, selfish and cold.

Cold as the prison cell she had to live in, 2 weeks away from her baby.

Her baby who’s now kept away from her embrace.

Embrace that she’s now fighting for in court.

Court that seems to traditionally see her on the losing side.

Side that’s not black, immigrant, nor minority.

Minority because her legal fees are out of this world.

World that would let a mother with a grieving womb fight for the baby she grew in it. 

It is unacceptable.

Unacceptable, yet here we are.

Are you willing to help get back her baby by holding her hand? 

Her hand that desperately longs to hold her baby again.

Again, are you willing?
Donate now to her GoFundMe campaign!

Link: https://www.gofundme.com/help-me-get-ami-back

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Lesson: From the Elderly to the Young

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I’ve got an elderly friend called *Emma whom I met on a social media group for old expatriates who grew up in Kenya.
I had joined the group years ago for research purposes for my old job as a writer, but I grew fond of the new friends. 

Recently, Emma shared just how tough the last 10months have been as she grieved over her beloved husband *Sam. She had attended a wedding where she suddenly broke into tears just to realise how much she missed Sam. She wanted him there so bad. She admits that never has she felt so alone in her life without Sam.

Emma’s words move me to tears and make me reflect over my life. At the moment, my peers are sharing about having great jobs, happily engaged or married, getting babies…etc. At some point we’ll all face new phases of life. Invitations will start ranging from kids’ graduations, kids’ weddings,  friends’ funerals, parents’ funerals.
Then pension days kick in, we become grandparents, and then like Emma and Sam, life’s toughest goodbyes are said to the beloved.

Makes me wonder what we young people complain about or why we struggle so much to prove ourselves to other people and society.

As I read the replies by other elderly friends who’ve gone through such grief, I began to see just how life is richer when lived simple – in love.

In their golden years my old mates’ chats, memories, activities and even seasons of grief are painted by those they vowed to spend the rest of their lives with.

Death seems less scary than no longer experiencing the love of their beloveds. No longer feeling the warmth of their skin. No longer here.

My dear friends who are now like my libraries of wisdom have taught me this:

When life’s sunset draws near, all your money, power and other  achievements mean nothing.
All that matters is having found home, at last, in the heart of s/he who really loves you.

Hope this message inspires you!
^_^

Equality begins at Home!

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Female offspring are not second best

Recently, there was a news report in Kenya about a man who welcomed his newborn son at the hospital with a convoy of limousines.

I was thrilled that a father would go to such great lengths to celebrate the arrival of his newborn son. After a while, I wondered if the man could have done the same were the newborn child a girl.

Like a thorn, the answer pierced my thoughts to realise that in Africa, the norm is that a son is valued more than a girl.

This took me back to a time when a friend told me, “The African girl is broken even before she leaves her father’s roof…She leaves knowing that she is second best.”

Having shared my thoughts about this reflection on social media, only one person commented; a man. He agreed and said that our African culture has unfortunately caused us to see the boy child as more valuable.

So what happens when I one day give birth to a beautiful baby girl?

Should I throw a small party because she isn’t worth a higher cost for celebration?

Should I tell my husband, “Sorry, we’ll try again?”

Should I tell her that when she sets out into the world she’ll have to be grateful for at least being number two?

Should I pat her back and tell her that she could try marrying a wealthy man instead?

My personal answer is, “Not if I am her mother!”

I might not be a world famous woman but I do believe in the power of purpose.
My purpose in this life is not to be second best but to be the best in fulfilling my individual purpose.
It might not attract global paparazzi to stalk me nor make people want to know which dress or perfume I recently wore.
But one thing is for sure, I shall leave a positive mark in my capacity!

This is the philosophy that I would teach my baby girl.

I would not teach her to do better, I would teach her to do things differently.

I would remind her not to fight with or hate boys, I would remind her to appreciate others’ efforts but compete with her personal vision.

I would tell her not to feel bad when people sigh and say, “She is just a girl.” I would tell her to smile and say, “Thank God I am a girl!”

Most importantly, I would not shy away from celebrating my daughter.

This is because God must have had a darn good reason to go back to His drawing board and design a woman. Surely, the world is a much better place with girls in it. The works needs girls!

No single child in this world should ever grow up feeling second best. All children are equally special and equally able to transform this world into a much better place than they found it.

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Blog Action Day 2014

This is my special celebration to girls all over the world as we commemorate Blog Action Day 2014.

Remember, equality and all the good things begin at home ^_^

Love and Sunshine,
Ayuma.

Kakamega Forest Community shares how to Fight Poaching in Kenya

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I always loved travelling to the village in Kakamega during school holidays when I was young. Of course, my family did not enjoy the luxury of spending vacation time in the best beach to bush holiday destinations or flying abroad. But I sure learned the value of visiting my family back in the village. From my community members, I learned about environmental stewardship long before I interacted with the term during an environmental class at the university.

Salome was my late grandfather's prayer tree and one of the trees in the beautiful Kakamega Forest

Salome was my late grandfather’s prayer tree and one of the trees in the beautiful Kakamega Forest

My late grandfather whom I loved to call “Kuka” spent majority of his youthful years in an army camp in Uganda during the World War. He had seen the face of war and I believe that it seemed like heaven when he retired to the tranquil Kakamega forest. Every Sunday morning before going for church service, Kuka requested that parents release their children for nature walks. I made sure that I walked close to him so that I could filter wisdom from his old and husky voice as he told stories and riddles about the forest. One in particular stays fresh in my mind about the forest baboons. Kuka said that if you pick a stone and try to hit a baboon, you start a war against yourself. He said that in his many years of interacting with the baboons, he has never witnessed a baboon fail to catch a stone. Kuka said, “The baboon will always catch the stone and hit you with it for a baboon never misses his target!” Looking back, I now realise that Kuka had been teaching us about environmental responsibility.

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During church service, I had expected the typical shouting during praise and worship and pastors enjoying celebrity life like in Nairobi. I was wrong!

Interestingly, church services in the village took-on a different format. Selected elders of the village would speak openly about some of their concerns about the village. The pastor would sit and listen to their wisdom. Some congregants would share their testimonies and thanksgiving. It seemed like it was one big family meeting where the forest somehow brought people together and closer to God. It was evident just how much the people loved the forest and even looked into the Bible for ways to be responsible about God’s creation.

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I remember the last church service I attended with Kuka, he was the guest speaker. He spoke about supporting women who often fetched firewood from the forest. They were often attacked by baboons and they too harmed the trees. Kuka requested that the church members get together and take supportive action in finding sustainable solutions. And they did, soon after the service under the leadership of their pastors. Teams were formed, tasks were assigned and action was taken throughout the week. Nobody just talked about ideas. These were often backed by conversations that sought solutions which led to a sense of ownership of the forest; our forest.

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It soon became clear to me that the forest was part of us and so we needed to protect it. This is why most of the community members assertively sought jobs from KWS as forest guards. They knew just how important it was to preserve the community’s philosophy alive when it comes to protecting the forest. Also, the community worked with legislators to ensure that industrialists don’t take advantage of areas near the forest. There are no big hotels near the forest to avoid exploitation and disturbing the peace in the forest. It only takes a mighty long drive to the Kakamega forest to realise just how real this is. In the long run, the forest remains a peaceful aboard for beautiful wild animals, trees that are over 500-years-old and a community with generations of wisdom on forest conservation.

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So why isn’t the same happening in Kenyan national parks where poaching has been gaining momentum?

I think it all goes back to understanding the role of environmental stewardship. Why? This is because it would take three environmental stewards working together to promote responsible use and protection of the natural environment. They are: (1) Doers (2) Donors and (3) Practitioners.

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Photo: MLD Family fund

 

Doers are the people who volunteer to support the cause by taking action. For example, doers in the Kenyan context would be citizens like myself who visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphan’s Project area to get informed and also adopt elephants. Through this project, doers get to support rescue and rehabilitation efforts for orphaned elephants and rhinos.

My friend Maureen touching an elephant for the very first time at the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage in Nairobi

My friend Maureen touching an elephant for the very first time at the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage in Nairobi

Donors are the financial backbone for various causes. Their approaches could be donating money and even holding fundraisers to create awareness and gather financial support for a cause. For example, the First Lady of Kenya on behalf of the government was the fundraising force behind an anti-poaching campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants” to support conservationists and protect elephants in Kenyan National parks.

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Practitioners are those who work on a day-to-day basis to gather support from scientists, governmental agencies, stakeholder groups and other groups to promote environmental stewardship outcome. For example, Dr. Paula Kahumbu and her team at WildlifeDirect who initiated the “Hands off our Elephants” campaign. They are a group of practitioners who tirelessly blow the trumpet about elephant poaching in Kenya and gather support from citizens, the government and other agencies for sustainable solutions to fighting poaching in Kenya.

Dr. Paula Kahumbu (left) who is WildlifeDirect's CEO and myself during the 2013 StoryMoja Hay Festival where she promoted the "Hands Off Our Elephants" campaign

Dr. Paula Kahumbu (left) who is WildlifeDirect’s CEO and myself during the 2013 StoryMoja Hay Festival where she promoted the “Hands Off Our Elephants” campaign

Together, these three groups of warriors form environmental stewards. The best thing is that anybody, even you, can become an environmental steward just by getting informed, being conversant about the environmental situation around you and carrying-on with a personal effort to reduce the likelihood of negatively impacting the environment.

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So what works at the Kakamega forest? Well, the three groups which make up a fierce environmental stewards team actively work together for the good of the community and the forest.
If the communities that live around the national parks are supported and educated about their role to protect wildlife and why they need to care about protecting them, then they would begin to take ownership of the wildlife. Too many of them live in poverty and feel abandoned in the process. This is why I believe they keep quiet when the poachers infest their land for a hunting spree. Some have also been facing human-wildlife conflict in their communities but with little or no effective support on how to combat the situation.

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What if the donors supported the communities with financial aid? What if the practitioners supported the communities with educational initiatives about environmental stewardship? What if one day the communities became doers and started community initiatives to defend their wildlife?

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This could be a reality if Kenyan people began to embrace a culture of environmental stewardship by sharing wisdom, staying informed and actively participating in environmental conservation initiatives.

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I believe that it can become a reality but it begins with believing that we as a nation can get there if we work together to our best capacity. If it works in Kakamega forest, it can surely work in our national parks. After all, they are all part of the beautiful Kenyan carpet of nature!

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Check out my photo gallery about my first trip to the David Sheldrick Orphans Project area, please click here.

For more about the poaching situation in Kenya, join the conversations on Facebook and Twitter!

Also, check out the “Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign” and even more on www.wildlifedirect.org

HOW I SURVIVED DEPRESSION

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Much as I was excited to start my second year at the university, I sure did not feel like I was the same lady. All I felt was disappointment and his cousin called fear. For some reason, word had already spread round the school that I were a girl who “had it all”. As I interacted with schoolmates, there was always such a high  expectation of what I say, what I wear, the guy I am seen with, what I ate for lunch and how much I ate. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in school life.

All I knew was how to remain socially invisible and just focus on my books. My expectations to remain socially invisible had gone down the drain once word spread across the campus that my two mates and I were the tallest girls on campus. I was horrified once I started experiencing what came with it all at once.

Suddenly, a classmate informed me that someone had placed a bet on me; to have sex with me and then he would win some money.
Suddenly, lady schoolmates felt the need to inform me as soon as I lost or gained weight.
Suddenly, everything I did went on the ‘campus grapevine’ and reached me at the end of the day.

In panic, I resorted to keeping my social circle on lockdown. My efforts were all in vain, for some ‘mates’ had been behind the betting, the rumours and the assumption that I were a politician’s daughter.

On the real side of my life, I was slowly sinking into depression. I was not okay and it took an emergency visit to the school clinic to know. As I walked to the hostel one hot afternoon, I felt faint in a way I had never felt before. A lady stopped me on my way to the clinic to ask if I was ok. But, she said this in reference to the weight I had rapidly lost. I told her that I was fine then staggered my way to the clinic.

After the nurse left me to rest and the fluid from the IV drip seeped into my body, I broke down and cried. For the very first time in my life, I felt so alone. The loneliness inside the hospital-scented room brought out the reality that had been existing inside me. I cried till my nose became hot. I sat in silence. Luckily, a good friend showed up and comforted me. Moments passed and others showed up as soon as they finished their classes. But, for some reason, I still felt alone.

When I went back to the hostel, I slept for a while and hoped to wake up feeling better. This was not the case. I soon received a call informing me that my only grandfather was no more. I had grown tired to a point my tears could not come out anymore. I felt so broken till my voice disappeared;I would open my mouth but no words could come out. Defeated, I lay my head on my pillow and woke up the next day confused but with enough strength to pack my bags and go to the village for the funeral.

All I can remember was that after the funeral, I felt more confident, stronger and complete. After a funeral? Yes.
Well, I’ve got God and my traditional culture to thank. Experiencing loss helped me discover my hidden pains, but also helped me appreciate what I’ve got left. I had my family with me and a great God who loves me. Love came rushing through my heart, kicked out depression and I had a wide smile on my face.

With this gift of a new appreciation of life, I had to carefully chose with whom to share it with. I am glad that we continue to share it even with the ups and downs that have challenged us in the years that followed and brought us to the beauty of today.

My hope is that this little story of mine will encourage you to let go of your past pains and have a deeper appreciation for what you’ve got left after a season of loss.

Love and Sunshine,
Ayuma

Gagging Death with Second Chances

Amy was tired. She was tired of a marriage gone wrong. The pain crept through her nerves; from her curled toes to the hot coffee mug trapped between her hands. She sat in silence at the dinner table. The ticking clock on the wall echoed further into the living room. The fearful tapping of her finger onto the mug came to a stop when the minute hand hit midnight. She broke into tears which streamed down her face and into the mug.

Richard had for the third time slept out during their wedding anniversary. For the third time, Amy thought, her husband chose his mistress over her during their special day. He had tried to hide the affair for three years but she knew it from the first day he came home with a mask on his face. A mask of a man she knew not; a man who knew how to tell a lie straight to her face. And so she put her mug in the kitchen sink, turned off the lights and headed to bed.

Suddenly, she woke up to a struggle for breath as a masked man gagged her mouth as his partner tied up her arms and legs. The man placed a cloth over her nose and the next thing she felt was the cold burn of a metallic chair. Amy had been kidnapped. Blindfolded, she struggled to free her arms and legs but all her efforts were in vain. She panted and puffed some more until all she could do was cry.

Neither of the two men spoke to her. They just kept walking round the room which scared her even more. But as soon as they removed the muffle over her mouth she cried, “Please let me go! Please let me go!” All she heard in return was silence. The two men never said a thing. Hopelessness started sinking in as soon as it hit her that the only person who would notice that she was missing was her husband. The thought of Richard in the arms of his mistress at such a time made her feel even closer to death. She had been dying slowly for the last three years.

The day she wanted to tell Richard that she had cervical cancer was the day he came home with a mask on his face and a hint of cheap perfume on his shirt. She was dying alone for three years. She thought about the many times she had tried to get pregnant. How it pained her when her family members pressured her. How it made her feel less of a woman that she was not able to give Richard a child. Perhaps that is what made him start an affair, she thought. Slowly, her marriage had suffered another type of cancer that ate into their love.

Suddenly, Amy gave in to the worst; death. Her loud cried for freedom turned into death wishes. She knew not who the two men were, but she told them to get on with it and just kill her.

“I’ve got nothing else to lose so just kill me.”

“I have been dying from cancer for the last three years.”

“My husband has for the last three years spent our wedding anniversary in the arms of his mistress.”

“I am infertile and cannot do the one thing a woman is supposed to do.”

“Just kill me now and kill me quick.”

Suddenly, one man took off the blindfolds and freed her arms and legs. Kneeling right before her in a room full of friends and family members was Richard. His idea of a wedding anniversary surprise for Amy had taken a different turn. He was crying and the look on his face was that of a broken soul. One lady rushed across the room in tears and left the house. Everyone else had a mix of grief, anger, fear and shock painted over their faces.

“Please forgive me Amy… Please forgive me!” Richard wept in the silence that had filled the room. The look on Amy’s face was that of shock and frustration. She had emotionally and physically signed a death wish; she was ready to die. Looking at the room full of people made her feel as if she were looking at a certain chapter of her past that she had long forgotten. She zoned back in and Richard had stopped crying. He stood up, walked towards her and went on his knees before her. He held onto her hands and noticed how pale and skinny they had become. She was shaking as if she had seen a ghost. A ghost indeed! The mask on Richard’s face was gone and he looked at her with the innocence he had in his eyes the day he asked her to be his wife. He said:

“I broke my promise to love and protect you.”

“I broke my promise to be faithful to you.”

“I broke my promise to stand by you for better or for worse.”

“This is the worse and before you is a man full of broken promises.”

“I won’t stop you if you choose to leave me. But if there is some little hope in you that I can be a better man, I am begging you to give me a second chance.”

Amy pulled away her hands and cried. She was not sure about what was happening. She was not sure that she could trust again, not Richard. The other people in the room had already disappeared from their thoughts; the focus was only on the two.

“Just one more chance Amy… Just one more chance,” Richard pleaded. Then Amy wiped away her tears and held his hands. “I guess two years are enough for a second chance,” Amy said with a soft smile warming up her face. Richard rose from his knees in astonishment and kissed her as he did on their wedding day.

Suddenly, cheerfulness from family and friends coated and helped them sail away into a perfect second chance.

True love thrives in forgiveness and truth, enough to selflessly give way to second chances even with two more years left to live.

Yours truly,

Ayuma.

MENSTRUATION IS NOT A CURSE

Celebrating Being a Woman / ruby-cup.com

Celebrating Being a Woman / ruby-cup.com

How many ladies got their period without knowing what it is? Did any of you think that you were dying or suffering from a serious illness like cancer? Well, that has happened to many of us but it shouldn’t be so and this cycle should stop.

When a lady gets her period, this should not be handled with shyness, disgust or shock but with pride – as a girl is welcomed into the world of being a woman! Women aren’t born with a manual on the best way to deal with the frustration that comes with menses. This is why having a community of ladies supporting girls can help them through this process. If we never got the support we needed, this is our chance to do it right by reaching out to our sisters, daughters, cousins, and even the girls within our living environment. Or perhaps, we could reach out to girls who are facing this alone and don’t have the means to deal with menstruation.

Also, there are various medical interventions that have been designed to help women and girls have a smooth sail through their menstrual cycle. These include sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups. In Africa, sanitary pads and tampons have been quite popular and not many have heard of what menstrual cups are.

Well, a menstrual cup is a bell-shaped menstrual hygiene product commonly made from soft rubber or medical-grade silicone and is inserted into a woman’s vagina to collect menstrual fluid during menstruation. It is often reusable since it collects fluid instead of absorbing. Most manufacturers recommend replacing a menstrual cup once every 10years. This means that it’s economical since it’s reusable and you’ll only get to worry about “replacement” after an entire decade.

Also, the endless reports in Kenya are simply heart-breaking, about girls who miss out school because of their periods. Click here for more… Some of the girls cannot afford pads and end up using rags, old pieces of blanket, tree bark or mud to hide their “shame” which prevents them from presenting themselves in public or in school. This shouldn’t be so, not if we’ve got what it takes to support each other despite our backgrounds.

A Ruby Cup / ruby-cup.com

A Ruby Cup / ruby-cup.com

Ruby Cup is an award winning menstrual cup that’s the first to supply its menstrual hygiene products in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is mainly because there is an increased need for such a product to curb health and economic stresses on access to menstrual hygiene products that are long-lasting. You can use this product at home and those who’ve used the Ruby Cup attest to literally forgetting that they are on their period due to the comfort and relief it brings. But that is not all; you can help in distributing a Ruby Cup to a school girl from an underprivileged background. When you buy one cup you reach out to a girl and help her go through primary school, secondary school and finish College without having to worry about her period again.

Here are some letters from school girls who’ve benefited from using Ruby Cups!
If you would like to have an edifying session with the Ruby Cup team at school, in church or even your group of girls, please contact the team at info.ke@ruby-cup.com.

For more information, please follow Ruby Cup on the social networks: Twitter: @rubycup and Facebook: RubyCup

Yours Truly,
Ayuma.

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