We are our choices, a great person once said. I struggle to remember who it was but I won’t fall into the trap of passing it off as Shakespeare’s. It was a Jean-Paul somebody. It has to be a Jean-Paul. The closest thing I have ever read to that was by J.K Rowling. She writes in one of her famous books that “it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”That sounds like something that an old professor with a spirit endearing to philosophy would say to his or her young class to arouse their sensibilities about personal life and community.
For Brian Odiwuor and a few of his like-minded friends, choice represents something significant and sentimental; an opportunity to live a life of impact. And a chance to give back to the community that molded them into the beings that they have become. Of the many choices they have made with their lives, community outreach ranks up high.
It’s adorable and admirable listening to Brian talk about making life better for young people in Homa Bay County. It gives you the feel that there’s still so much good in humanity. It keeps you alive to the fact that people can still give back kindness and love even when life dealt them bad cards at their nascent stages of development. It is perhaps the highest embodiment of the ‘Kenyans for Kenya’ spirit.
‘Something has to be done about the situation,’ Brian says.
He sounds a little reflective and distant in his speech. I have known him long enough to understand that he only takes dramatic pauses or any kind of pause in his speech when something of monumental significance is troubling his busy mind.
‘The county has enormous potential in its youth but the reality is unpleasant and regrettable,” He adds on.
Homa Bay County is a beautiful place, he points out. The person who coined the phrase ‘Home is where the heart is’ must certainly have had him in mind. He speaks about his home county with a rare form of love that seems mystical in a way. Something paranormal that only he can understand in his own way.
During the day, Homa Bay jams with a rush of activities that are typical of any lakeside town. Fishermen do what they do best. Travelers from the neighboring Migori stop over for a meal of fish. Traders trade in various commodities. Taxes get collected. Men hang from matatus doors and shout at the top of their lungs. Tourists flock the place to sight-see places of historical significance like Lake Simbi Nyaima. Others go to Ruma National Park while some spend their days perplexing over the hot springs of Rachuonyo.
Despite its beauty and magnificence, there are some stark realities in Homa Bay that necessitated Brian and his friends to brainstorm on what they could to help. To my surprise, they have done loads of research and turned pages of huge reports to get a clear picture of the daunting challenges that the community face. Truly commendable.
Teenage pregnancies rank high in the list of challenges that they aim at remedying. Brian showed me a terrifying study recently done by LVCT health and Overseas Development Institute which put the percentage of teenage girls who are either mothers or expectant at 33. This might not look or sound serious until you realize that it translates to nearly one-third of the county’s teenage girls. The number is not only troubling by its scale but also because it is nearly double the national average.
The HIV infections are equally, if not nearly, as high. The county leads the charts in the whole nation with its high number of infections. It’s not the most pleasant of news. Brian and his group of friends from the University of Nairobi know that. That is why they have made an active choice to do something about.
They have organized a raft of activities including Legal Aids, Medical Camps, Youth Mentorship and spiritual nourishment. These sequence of community outreach events will start on 20th December this year and end on the 26th of December. They are sacrificing their Christmas holidays for this cause. They are being the change that they want to see in the world. But they can’t do it alone. They need your help.
If you wish to give a donation towards this great initiative, then here are some details that you will find useful:
PAYBILL NO: 855150
ACCOUNT NAME: HB-LEGAL AID or HB-MED CAMP or HB-PADS DRIVE
You can also reach out to the treasurer of the initiative Lavender Ouya on 0797585985 for any inquiries.
Your help will be highly appreciated.
For the youth of Homa Bay, Brian gives his assurance that help is on the way.
In the words of Hellen Keller, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”