The Power of Action
This article is quite different from my usual writing. It is less about my experiences and more about the power of action – it is about four wonderful people with rich hearts.
I recently visited my old primary school back in Nairobi. A regular government funded school that was built during the colonial period in the 1930s. The original buildings still stand: unkept, aged and unmaintained.
I walked through old blocks, peeking into the shattered glass windows, tattered remnants limping off the paint peeling walls. My childhood memories flood through and as I casually shared them with my mum we were stopped unexpectedly by a tall dark skinny looking man. Experience was engraved in his forehead wrinkles, and he had a sharp stare and a smile that could light up a million hearts. In his deep Kikuyu accent he exclaimed my mother’s name and shook her hand with vigour. There was respect in his shake of hand and admiration in his eyes. My mother and I were caught by surprise. I took a few steps back feeling like an imposing stranger to this warm acquaintance.
His voice was full of enthusiasm and warmth as he said “Mrs B! We don’t need many people like you and your family… even if we have a few doing exactly what you are doing, it’ll be enough. It’s not riches that matter; what is needed is a heart. We need a few people with rich big hearts to continue doing as you four have done.”
My mother brought me back into the conversation by introducing me to him. She went on to further explain to me what he was referring to. I felt extremely humbled as I listened to my mother explain what my siblings had started a few years ago along with the support of my parents.
I somehow felt selfish, mentally caught up in my self-centred rut, and frankly quite useless in my actions.
As I listened to the breakdown of what I would deem as their personal project, I realised that it was nothing complex nor did they go out of their way or approach a charity organisation to conduct the leg work; they simply worked within their means, but what was different was the direct action and support.
Just like me, they simply visited their primary school as I did, but they saw more than the ageing buildings and felt more than the sweet memories. They wanted to give back for the wealth of education the school gave to them through supporting and helping underprivileged students succeed, and they did this effortlessly by starting with two students who were struggling the most, striving hard to study and chisel their futures amidst hardship and poverty.
Their day began at five am with a two-hour walk to school to make it on time with no breakfast and sometimes no dinner the previous night. Their parents could barely afford the school tuition so therefore money for lunch was out of the question. They would come to school and by the fourth hour fall asleep due to hunger, swallowing their education to a better future.
They struggled through the years and this became a routine for them. Their uniform was picked up from ‘lost property’ and whatever fitted best they wore. There were shoes twice their size and sweaters that drowned their little selves.
On their visits, my siblings decided to work together to provide a year of free lunch, coursework books, and a pair of new school uniforms for them. They continue to do this year after year, involving others who genuinely want to adopt the responsibility for other students.
The outcome? Two of the most happiest children in this world: healthy, well dressed, poised, higher grades, a vision in life, a chance, focus and determination for an education that could one day make them president or leaders of the nation, doctors, astronauts… They gave hope to two children who probably never knew what that meant.
Their act of kindness has given them the world. They did not have to run a marathon, climb a mountain, swim an ocean, raise lots of money or dump a bucket of ice over their heads; they simply got up to do something within the community. It only took a small action.
“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change.”
– Bob Kerrey
Global Seven News