Why are we here?

The first lecture of clinical chemistry, our lecturer, Professor Ojwang’ gave us titbits of advice which I’ve held dear to date. Amongst them he talked of the meaning of life. When you ponder, why am I here? What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose on this earth? Since from dust we came and to dust we shall return.

We are driven by fear. Fear of dying. I watched this documentary series called year million and they talk of an age whereby humanity will achieve immortality. We will begin by being able to delete the unwanted genes from our DNA. Is your mother short-tempered? You can eliminate that. Do you want a child who is super smart? Yes, please. You can preprogram their genetic sequence to generate the perfect human being. Which didn’t settle well with me because are we human without imperfections? Then we’ll reach a point whereby telepathy will be made possible to enable engineers and great minds to come up with formidable inventions but what are we without our privacy? Then we’ll be able to upload our minds onto a computer and be able to have a virtual world. This is to avoid death from physical injury such as road traffic accidents. Did I mention we’ll no longer work? Yes, robots will be doing everything for us meaning there will be a generation who’s wonder will be really? You used to work? What is that like? But of course there comes the fear of the robots turning against the human race. I hope you’ve watched Terminator.

Immortality brings about the question, how different would you live your life if death became a thing of the past? The fear of death, I want to believe, is what gives life meaning. We go to school, care about people, go for what we want because we’re afraid of regretting. Thinking about what could have been since we have an expiry date. It’s just a matter of when.

Not to digress, to paraphrase what professor Ojwang’ said, most of all, the essence of life is making and leaving an impact in society so that when you are gone, with all the academic knowledge you acquired in your lifetime, your contribution to the community will remain even as you lay 6 feet under. Build that school you think your community needs, start a dispensary… you have a role to play in community and the impact you make is what makes life worthwhile as you live and even after you are dead.

The impact you make is what makes life worthwhile. Tell me how felt after you last visited that children’s home. When did you last volunteer for something? Can you describe the satisfaction and sense of fulfillment that comes with it? You feel at peace and in line with your purpose when you go out of your way to help others. Both the less fortunate and the able.

This reminds me of a piece my mother shared with me a while back from the daily nation

The founders, Griffin, last words to Starehe boys were, ‘… This world is full of people who do their duty half-heartedly, grudgingly and poorly. Don’t be like them.

Whatever is your duty, do it as fully and perfectly as you possibly can.

And when you have finished your duty, go on to spare some time and talent in service to less fortunate people, not for any reward at all, but because it is the right thing to do.

Follow my advice in this and I promise you that your lives will be happy and successful.

May God bless you all. ‘

Profound. Serving gives life meaning.

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The bodaboda man

You will never know lunch time frustration, when you’re hungry, tired, worried about something, until you board a motorbike with an incessantly talking rider.

Ideally, all motorbike riders and passengers ought to wear a helmet meaning no communication can take place. Even in the absence of helmets, the wind blows against the direction of the motorbike meaning sound will be lost in between and hence discouraging talking. But no! Some people’s determination will make you marvel.

I swear this man couldn’t shut up. He went to the extent of literally turning to try and be heard. My heart rate was over the roof the whole of that ride. I almost asked him, do you have a wife? A grandmother at home? A friend to talk to back at home? No? That’s unfortunate because you can talk! I wondered so because I recall one of our lecturers mentioning that while taking a history from patients, especially the elderly, they will tend to go on and on mostly about irrelevant things. They will start telling your about their chicken back at home and you have to politely guide them back to track. They do this because they’re lonely. Yes, they’re lonely. Society has neglected the old.

About a fortnight ago, my cousin broke down while explaining to me how our step grandmother has been neglected by everyone. I mean, we visit her, she visits us but that’s about it. Very few check up calls are made to her and she has to live alone for the rest of her life. She talked about how you could feel the excitement and thrill in her voice everytime she picked the phone. As if she was eagerly waiting for the phone to buzz. It broke my heart honestly and made me start to appreciate the essence of nursing homes. Perhaps it’s about time we embrace this idea and set in motion a plan to cater for the old and to give them a reason to continue living long after their children have moved out and spouses died and no one is around for them anymore save for the occasional visits from their grandchildren.

This is why I did not get offended with the man’s chatter for they say be kind always for you never know what someone is going through.

ACT ON MENSTRUATION WITHOUT HESITATION

This an article I wrote following a training on Menstrual heath Education that I attended in Kampala, Uganda starting 27th April to 1st May, 2015 that, unfortunately, never got published as anticipated.

The future of girls in East Africa remains bleak as many are dropping out of school due to, among others, menstrual related challenges. The society’s stereotypes inculcated in them pertaining menstruation being a curse, makes the girl child believe that their future is bleak the moment they spot blood on their underwear. In Uganda, 61% of girls admit to missing school due to their menstrual period, the numbers continue to soar with each passing moment of our ignorance and the statistics are bound to rocket if we do not act on menstruation without hesitation.

Irise International, a UK charity, organized a training on Menstrual Health Management at Entebbe in Uganda from 27th April to 1st May, 2015. An eye-opener for the Irise ambassadors who were in attendance and a reiteration of what we all know but take obvious. Providing education on menstrual hygiene is paramount. In order to break the silence and rise above the stigma, girls need to be enlightened on the normal physiological process they are bound to undergo; menstruation, because girls matter.

Light needs to be shed on the facts and the myths used by society to put the girl child down. In addition, men need to understand that menstrual hygiene management affects them directly because everyone is a product of a missed period however much they consider women “unclean creatures.” These beautiful, promising young girls should not be bashed, perturbed or miss opportunities because they are menstruating instead, we should empower the girl child to be bold and unshakable on matters concerning her menstruation cycle. Statements such as, “I cannot trust a creature that bleeds for five days and does not die” from our male counterparts are demeaning, disheartening and exposes men’s ignorance on this global phenomenon; menstruation.

The lack of clean water in some areas, sanitation and medical care has negative consequences, especially for the female members. Menstruating girls and women are forced to use mattresses, old cloths, drying them in moist places this, almost always lead to vaginal infections. This is because menstruation is a taboo issue and menstruating girls are flushed to open up about their menstruation.

In addition, there are different ways of relieving painful cramps and getting pregnant is not an effective method. Alternatively, one can take painkillers, exercise, place a warm water bottle on the stomach and incase of severe dysmenorrhea or menorrhagia, a health care should be contacted.

The constant emphasis on our patriarchal society is counterproductive since it takes two to tango. The facilitators of this training spiked my interest the most since they gave up their daily routine and commitments to come and echo how serious menstrual health education is to us and to our sisters, brothers, parents and friends. You can corroborate with me that most people expect a stipend even after offering to volunteer therefore, these facilitators are an inspiration to me and my fellow ambassadors and they should be to you too because if they can, why wouldn’t you?

Last but not least, this training in Entebbe, Kampala taught me many new skills for instance I was able to learn how voluminous effect one’s body language and choice of words has on a conversation. For instance, when trying to convince a chauvinistic, misogynistic set to win politician that women’s anatomy is not something to be used against them. Therefrom, this menstrual hygiene day, break the silence, become a superhero and help to ensure that no girl is ever held back by her period! Act on menstruation without hesitation by supporting friends, teaching others and keeping girls in school. Be your own super hero.

“Maybe I’m tough because I’m a girl.”

If I were born a boy, my father would’ve raised me to be one hell of a macho man.

Growing up I did everything with my dad. When he was changing light bulbs, I was there handing him the bulbs. When he was fixing the doors lock, I was there handing him the screws. When he treated our chicken, I was there to hold their beaks open. When he went out to let loose our fierce dogs, I was there tying up three as he dealt with the other four. When he was slaughtering a chicken, I was there!

I highly doubt there is anything I cannot do by myself. I have done most of the things ever since I left my dad’s shadow by myself. I have moved out and moved in alone. I have fixed my fitness bicycle from only parts to a fully functional, aesthetic piece that I could ride on. I have fixed my bed from pieces, tightened the screws by myself. Oh and its still sturdy. I have fought my way through a lot of things. Growing up, my dad made it a song that only the tough survive. Tough I was made. You have to stand up for yourself. Standing up for myself I did.

The world is a strange, beautiful and dangerous place. Everyone, who has no idea on what it is to be you, will feel like it’s their place to tell you how to live and be and they will breathe down on your neck hard if you let them but I made a decision way before I turned 13 to never let other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.

I watched a certain series a while back, The Brave, if I’m not wrong and there was a soldier amongst the 6 who was a woman. She was strong, poised and her demeanour a sight for sore eyes. She knew she had to put in work to get to where she was and she never let her femininity stop her. She did not let superiority complex infiltrated men intimidate her either. This one time they were on a mission to save the ambassadors daughter from a heist and a little girl was passing by the gates. She saw the lady, gun hanging off her straight shoulders and stared in awe.

“You’re tough… but you’re a girl,” the little girl stammered in awe
“Maybe I’m tough because I’m a girl.” She replied with a smile and straight shoulders, her sophisticated gun dangling off them.

Never underestimate a strong woman.

You can watch that here:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=193478867888203&id=120404095195681&_rdr

It’s one of the most profound things I’ve heard in my life and I couldn’t help but think about it this morning. I hope you never let being a woman stop you and I hope, as a man, you never let women be intimidated out of achieving their full potential by men with delicate egos. These are your sisters, friends, mothers and daughters.

Add this series to your watch list! 🙂

Do you fight in your relationship?

Do you think some people only feel truly alive in the presence of conflict? Both internal and external. Do some people thrive on it? I have these, what you would call a power couple, neighbors who at first glance resemble any ordinary couple you’d see going around and about their business. They’re cohabiting and the lady is a stay-at-home girlfriend or wife. Didn’t the court rule the other day that come-we-stay is proof of marriage?

Not to digress, it’s a war zone in my area of residence. Every morning and evening. As soon as the guy gets home in the evening, not more than 5minutes later and its shouting and yelling and utensils being thrown around and physical abuse. It’s a pity these walls are not soundproof because they sure are not bashed to air their dirty linen in public. What baffles me is, what is it that two people could fight about yesterday, today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow that is incapable of being resolved that they have to reiterate the argument daily? Its disturbing to hear people verbally fighting and even physically and you’re not in a position to interfere also its toxic to the children around. How does this affect children exposed to violence in their own homes or in their areas of residence growing up? I read an article by Troy Onyango a while and the protagonist had grown up watching the father physically abuse his mother and in his adult life, after marrying, he made a habit of beating the daylight out of his wife every dusk. He would come home, drunk or not, and start hurling insults and throwing blows at the wife. In his mind, he only knew to express love with violence. To him, love did not exist where violence didn’t. Sad, right? Disturbing too.

What baffles me is why would two adults consent to live together disharmoniously? This is how people die! It starts with verbal abuse, then a slap here and here, next it’s punches being thrown and next thing you now, someone slips into unconsciousness never to come to again.

Domestic violence is a real issue amongst us and we need to find ways to address this issue to reduce the mortality rate in both parties involved. This mortality rate is increased by both physical and psychological factors. You should see the guy walking around, he’s usually agitated for no apparent reason and rude. Stress is one of the risk factors for several conditions. High blood pressure being one of them.

Some of the peaceful ways to resolve conflict are:

  1. Calmly talk about it and in case you cannot calmly talk about it at that moment, excuse yourself and resume the conversation when your temper is out of control.
  2. It’s not a competition. Going into an argument with the mentality that you want to win will destroy the relationship. Its about meeting halfway, not winning the argument.
  3. Know your trigger points and avoid them. If you know that your partner is the type to use your words against you especially out of context in an argument, avoid exchanging words with them as this might escalate your temper and end in a disastrous way. Also, try to tell them beforehand that you do not like it so they can curb it or even better stop entirely.
  4. Don’t be afraid to involve a third party when things sprawl out of control.

Lastly, a caveat for those women who ignore the tell-tale signs of a violent lover, better to be safe than sorry. Below are some of the warning signs also, suggestions of how to tackle this issue will be highly appreciated and acted upon.

If you’d like to share you story please text me 0727946060 or email me at ybritty@gmail.com. It can be done anonymously. Don’t be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others.

Don’t we just love the dead?

Don’t we just love the dead? Is a question one of my lecturers posed during one of his lectures which made me pause and think. They say that people won’t worry about your existence, they won’t call you to check up on you, they might not even help you in your time of need but will book the earliest flight they can to attend your funeral. They will buy exquisite bouquets of flowers to place them on your grave and then they will gather and talk about how they wish they called you the last time they attended a conference in your area of residence or how they should’ve called you for that coffee, returned your missed call. Their faces full of regret and shame

There’s this song I used to love as a teenager called If I Die Young by The Band Perry. It’s lyrics and link

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7NJqUN9TClM&feature=youtu.be

[Intro]
If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song
Oh-oh, oh-oh

[Verse 1]
Lord make me a rainbow I’ll shine down on my mother
She’ll know I’m safe with you
When she stands under my colors
Oh and life ain’t always what you think it ought to be, no
Ain’t even gray but she buries her baby
The sharp knife of a short life
Well I’ve had just enough time

[Chorus]
If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

[Pre-Chorus]
The sharp knife of a short life
Well, I’ve had just enough time

[Verse 2]
And I’ll be wearing white when I come into your kingdom
I’m as green as the ring on my little cold finger
I’ve never known the lovin’ of man
But it sure felt nice when he was holdin’ my hand
There’s a boy here in town, says he’ll love me forever
Who would have thought forever could be severed by

[Pre-Chorus]
The sharp knife of a short life
Well, I’ve had just enough time

[Bridge]
So put on your best boys, and I’ll wear my pearls
What I never did is done
A penny for my thoughts—oh no, I’ll sell ’em for a dollar
They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner
And maybe then you’ll hear the words I’ve been singin’
It’s funny when you’re dead how people start listenin’

[Chorus]
If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

[Outro]
Ooh, ooh, the ballad of a dove
Go with peace and love
Gather up your tears, keep ’em in your pocket
Save ’em for a time when you’re really gonna need ’em
Oh, the sharp knife of a short life
Well, I’ve had just enough time
So put on your best boys, and I’ll wear my pearls

When she sings about how her thoughts will cost more after she’s a goner and she talks about how people listen more when you’re dead she’s basically reiterating the concept of us loving the dead more than when they were alive. Michael Jackson made more money dead than alive. The irony.

So why do we do what we do? Why do we tend to care more about things or people after we lose them? Is it because familiarity breeds contempt? Or is it because we’d rather weep than laugh?

Make that call, help a friend and most of all be there when your loved ones need you. You only have one family.