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When I set out about writing this, there’s a story that kept lingering in my head. The story of a Prince of Wales who forfeited the throne to marry the love of his life. It has a little connection to this story but I will tell it anyway. 
In the year 1936, something strange happened in the British Empire. A constitutional crisis of the highest proportion arose. Reason? The then Prince, Edward VIII, proposed to an American Socialite. He was destined to be king but he was obsessed with this lady. He was so determined to marry her despite the objections raised by the governments of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Edward VIII was nominally considered the head of the Church of England at the time and it was unimaginable by Royal standards for him to marry a socialite who had undergone two divorces in her life time. The church too couldn’t allow him to marry a divorcee especially because her ex-husbands were still alive. Traditions and beliefs dictated so. 
It was the whole country versus Edward. Him against the world. Everyone thought that he was making the greatest mistake of his life. He, however, put his foot on the ground and stated that he would marry Simpson regardless. What ensued was his abdication. He relinquished his monarchical authority just to marry the lady. A year after his abdication, he married Simpson and they stayed together for 35 years till his death. 
Many criticized, abused and hurled insults at him for having abandoned his Royal duty. But some hailed him as one of the bravest men of his generation. No one in the royal family had dared come close to making such controversial choices in their lifetime. 
Twenty one years after the death of Edward VIII in Paris, another brave human being was born in Ugenya, Kenya.  It was day 18 of November. The year was 1994. It was a boy. He was named Austine. The other name given to him was Ochieng. If there is one similarity between Austine and Edward VIII then its bravery. The world showed Austine cruelty from a very early age but bravery has seen him through to the stage of life he is at currently. 
Today, however, is not the day we do a juxtaposition of the boy from Ugenya and the Prince of Wales who went rogue. Neither is it the day we dig deep into the romantic expeditions of Edward VIII. Today is the day we help Austine. How do we do so? We listen first (I’d say ‘we read’ but this requires both. The listening should, however, take center stage because this is a story that speaks). We listen to how he got to where he is right now then look into how we can strive to help him towards his destiny.
I first thought of capturing this story through Q and A but dismissed the idea. It’s too big for that. There’s too much at stake. There’s sadness and happiness in it. Darkness and light alike. Dreams and hopes. I started writing it last Friday evening but stopped. Then I woke up on Sunday at 3.15 am and finished it. I was sad for a while but then I remembered how strong this guy is and got encouraged. 
His first encounter with grief was at a very early age. I suspect that it didn’t even hit him till much later in life. His father died the very year he was born. The word he uses to describe the death is ‘posthumous’. I wanted to ask more about it and how it happened but chose not to. Some wounds are better left unopened. For if opened, you never know the kind of hemorrhaging that might ensue. 
His mother passed on five years later. He was just getting to have a slight understanding of his dad’s passing when this happened. But life happens tragically like that sometimes. You get crushed while on the ground. It only takes bravery to rise again and face everything. 
When your father dies, you lose a protector and a guard against the cruelties of this world. At least that’s how it feels most of the times. But when your mother dies, it’s like you lose an umbrella that shields you from both the heavy rains and the unbearable summer sun. It’s a loss that comes with emptiness and denial. You become hollow. What makes it worse is the fact that as you grow older, you become more conscious of it.. Some days you feel okay. But that’s just some days. Other days you don’t want to leave your blanket in the morning. And there are days you never feel like seeing anyone. You get thoughts like “What’s the point of talking to anyone when all my parents have checked out?”
There are days that come with triggers. Things like birthday anniversaries and the remaining little possessions you have of the deceased. When such triggers come, tears follow them. The tears might unconsciously gather in your eyes and overwhelmingly flow regardless of where you are or what you are doing. That’s how maddening grief can be. It ruins you. If care is not taken, it can bend you and wreck you into tiny little pieces. It matters not whether you are a man or a lady. Neither does it matter your build. It attacks the weak and strong in equal proportions. At this point, let me just say that I salute Austine and his two brothers. 
His maternal grandmother took them in after the paternal relatives said they couldn’t share want with them. There are two sides of humanity. There’s the dark side on one hand and the bright side on the other. Some people have hearts as dark as midnight. Then there are those whose hearts shine with love like emerald gemstones. The latter represent everything that is good with humanity. His grandmother is the latter. She has raised the three of them raised single handedly since the demise of his parents.
She has been their mom and dad at the same time. She loves them. I don’t know her but what I can tell is that she is a lady of steel and that there is a very special place for people like her in Heaven. She is aged now. She’s 90 years old. 
She protected them with honor and valor. She was fought on numerous occasions over her rightful piece of land by agents of patriarchy but she never relented. She stood up for her grandchildren when no one else was ready to stand by them. And they got into school. If you’ve read Margaret Ogola’s The River and The Source then I needn’t tell you that the spirit of Akoko lives in that lady.  
Austine ,being the bright chap that he is, passed his primary school education very well. Thankfully it was free. This is the point where we take a minute and thank Kibaki for the Free Primary Education before we can proceed. Good. We can proceed now. Ooh and by the way, you are free to criticize him for any of his failures. I just thought it nice to acknowledge the one area he may have got right. 
A Mumias Sugar Scholarship came and he got into Booker Academy in the year 2010. Booker Academy seems to be like one of those fancy schools where kids take Spanish Omelletes for breakfast and have buffets for dinner. That doesn’t matter anyway. Aren’t we all children of God after all? Of course we are. God will not question you in Heaven why you went to Dago Kokore High School instead of Booker Academy. If there’s tea in Heaven, I’m sure it will be shared equally among  Booker alumni and Non-Booker alumni. 
An A plain of 81 points was how he summed up his high school life. I told you this boy is bright. That was remarkable but then another challenge presented itself. How was he going to afford University fees? But isn’t that where God usually comes in? When everything seems so bleak and the road ahead seems to be so much blocked. That’s when He surfaces. And indeed He came through. An Oshwal Scholarship came for him. They were kind enough to pay for his college tuition and upkeep. 
You want to know how he settled on law as his course of study? The people at home were constantly fighting his grandmother. They were so determined to get her out of the land she occupied. They waged all kinds of battles against her. Poor woman. She had to not only fend for her grandchildren. She also had malicious agents of patriarchy trying as hard as possible to root her out of her land. For what she had experienced, she urged Austine to become a lawyer so as to one day assist her in such battles. 
As I write this, Austine has passed law school with a Second Class Upper Division. His fourth year results are squeaky clean. The As stand still like those palm trees that line up the streets of Tel  Aviv in Israel. His portal is a beauty to marvel at. You could stare at it in search for purpose in life. You know like how those art junkies in London museums look at paints on walls for long and imagine ridiculous things such as the emotions the painter might have been going through. 
There has been so many trials and tribulations thrown his way but somehow he always managed to overcome them. He is the true definition of “rising above your challenges”. There’s this one time that some unknown assailants made an attempt on his life. It was a Thursday evening like any other. He was in class seven.  He was back home late from school and was bathing outside at night. In the village, it is common for people to bathe about outside when darkness sets in. In the course of his doing so, the assailant nearly hacked him from behind with a machete. Thankfully, he saw him just in time to save himself. In the commotion, neighbors thronged the place and his grandma came out screaming. The guy escaped. He never got to know who he was. He probably will never know. 
He will write a book on all these soon. These are just highlights. 
Austine Ochieng Odaro has now finished campus. He is set for the Kenya School of Law. He’s one step away from  achieving his dream and that of his grandmother. Raising the money is a huge challenge though. Kenya School of Law is ridiculously expensive these days.  If any of us could contribute to him whatever amount we can then it will go a long way in helping him. His grandmother came through for him when his parents passed. Mumias Sugar came through for him in high school. Oshwal came through in campus. He has no one else but us right now. LET’S COME THROUGH FOR HIM. PLEASE. ANY AMOUNT WOULD BE EXTREMELY HELPFUL. 
 He wants to be the Chief Justice of this country someday. He has the temperament for that. There isn’t a single doubt in my mind that he will achieve this dream. I have unardoned clarity that Austine would make an exemplary Chief Justice. His mind is sharp. He has an insatiable appetite for knowledge. He is kind and most importantly respectful. 
I know his character quite well because we once sat in the same board. The SALAR journal Board. He was nice to me. He was so approachable and friendly. I learnt some valuable editing skills from him. He is a top notch editor. He made me a top notch editor too.
To Donate through Mpesa, these are the details, 
The PAYBILL NO is 891300. 
The ACCOUNT NO is 36121
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Your help is highly appreciated. It will go a long way in helping this brother. Receive blessings galore.

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