Clinging to Hope During times of Drought and Darkness
I write this today, the 5th of April, a time when in normal conditions we would be having lots of rain pouring down on our land here in West Pokot County, providing the seeds we normally would have planted two weeks ago with sufficient water it needs to break down before it can sense the sunlight and start to germinate. Sadly, this precious rain has eluded us and our land for so long that today we made the decision to continue pausing our plans to plant seeds simply because the land is too parched to nurture new life from these seeds.
This delay in planting worries me because I know that if we plant later, the shortened season of rain may not be enough to sustain our crop through the critical period of growth. Which means that just like last year, we may end up losing our harvest and have to depend on buying food from the local market, an option that is not sustainable for us because it normally gets very expensive during and a few months after the period of drought. Which may make it difficult for us to sustain the food needs of the 40 women who are taking their tailoring training with us at the Jitokeze Center in Kapenguria.
The disaster management experts here have rated this drought as a being one of the worst disasters in the history of West Pokot County, that they are calling for organizations and individuals to donate products and services that can aid the people most adversely affected by this drought. Seasonal rivers and boreholes have dried up, leaves of thorny trees that are normally the last vegetation to dry up during the drought here, have also dried up so now even goats and camels don’t have enough to eat. Chickens are the only livestock that seems to be surviving this harsh drought and so families that did not invest in sufficient chickens, seem to be struggling much more at the moment.
In one home in Central Pokot, children could no longer cope with the pangs of hunger in their stomach that they hunted, killed, cooked and ate small lizards that would climb on the walls of their earthen houses hoping to get some relief from hunger only to find themselves paralyzed and dependent on the kind doctors and nurses in Kapenguria district hospital who worked tirelessly to keep them from dying from the lizards’ poison.
In times like these, we experience so much suffering and grief that it takes such great effort to imagine that the future could be any better, what makes it even more difficult is to hear news that President Trump has succeeded in stopping the enactment of the Climate Change Policy that in my opinion held a promise of facilitating the current generation of the American people to do their part in recreating a world where the future generation may have a chance of surviving the devastation that the previous and current generations have wielded on nature and on the people whose basic survival directly depends on these natural environments.
Just as bad as Trump succeeding in reversing this climate positive policy is the reality we face here in Kenya of government officials in places of power who are paid so much by the Kenyan taxpayers already and yet dare to steal from the same taxpayer by failing to deliver on services and goods that the Kenyan taxpayers pay them to deliver to the nation. The same officials require tendered vendors to plough back a percentage of every government payment made to them in order to secure their tendered business. Besides that they still go ahead to misappropriate the funds budgeted for food security and disaster response and management activities, which are vital for the survival and growth of our nation.
Amidst this darkness, this drought and faced with these giants, can we as individuals and collectively as a people find the encouragement and the courage that we need to put even more effort towards creating the better future that we hope for. Because without this ability to put out hope into action we cannot cope and we will be tempted to perceive those who compromise on a fair, just and peaceful world as the enemy, forgetting that once we perceive another as an enemy we dehumanize them and when we dehumanized the other we dehumanize ourselves too.
Personally what normally helps me to cling to the hope that I have and to act on it is to remember the struggles that I have had to fight through in my past.
These struggles that in the past caused me so much grief, so many tears so much loneliness, now bless me with affirmations of the truth of who I am and what I am made of. I am a person made of a spirit that is hopeful, courageous, strong, resilient and compassionate. I believe that many of us who face and overcome any kind of adversity in life, get to discover that these traits have always been in us and that these traits are very common in our communities.
So in times of darkness and drought it is vital that we embrace these traits in us and among us, so that when we feel overwhelmed, we may be humble enough to allow ourselves to break down and be kind enough to let our spirit rest for as long as it needs to so that when we pick ourselves up and rise from our grief we will have inside of us, that which we need to continue our fight for a future that we dream of, a future that is better not just for us as individuals, but for us all as a collective community of humans and the rest of God’s creation. Embracing the fact that we are one and there is no other, even the one who threatens us with terror from his/ her seat of power, is not an other, he or she too is like us overwhelmed by darkness and drought and in need of redemption just as we are.
May the resilient and strong spirit of the Pokot children who are fighting their way out of paralysis remind us not to give up our fight for love peace and justice no matter how dark or dry our circumstances may be at the moment. Let us cling to hope and act with hope.