Tattered and filthy clothing hung on thin shoulders, dirt smudged faces, and eyes filled with hopelessness. Children just like me but standing on corners and gathering around cars with the hope of getting some coins or something to eat. Seeing children, teenagers and adults like this was a normal thing when you lived where poverty was reality for so many. Nairobi, Kenya was an exciting place to live but I never got used to seeing kids my age with nothing to go home to, no food to eat, and wearing filthy, tattered clothing because they did not have anything else. My family would be considered wealthy in a country like Kenya, on a continent like Africa. We had a house to come home to, food to eat, clothes that were not ripped, a warm bed to sleep in, and we were able to go to school.
My family tried to help people as much as we could. We did not go around handing out money for fear that those people would go spend it on drugs or alcohol. Children on the streets were especially at risk when they were given money. Instead, our family always kept a big jar of digestive biscuits (a certain kind of cookie in Africa) in the back of our car that we would hand out to people on the road. We would pass out the cookies whenever we saw people on the streets who were in need. It wasn't much but we knew it would help stop their growling stomachs for just a bit.
There was this one guy named Maurice that would always be at the same place in the road. He was a victim of polio as a child, which is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system and can cause temporary or permanent paralysis, and, in his case, it was permanent. He got around on a special bike-like wheelchair that let him pedal with his hands instead of his legs like a normal bike. It was a place in the road that was on our route home and we were always greeted enthusiastically by Maurice. It seemed like he had learned to find joy amongst his very difficult circumstances. It helps me remember that a small gesture of kindness can bring a little happiness. It also helps me remember important traits that I want to show. Joy. Gratitude. Kindness.