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Are you making a difference in someone’s life?

By Isaac Kalua | December 27th 2020

World Giving Index 2016. [Courtesy]

In 2019, the World Giving Index ranked USA as the most generous country over the last decade. Interestingly, the same survey ranked China as the least generous, alongside Greece and Yemen. The fact that China, the second richest global economy is also the least generous disproves the notion that the US gives a lot because it is the richest.

If anything, the argument can be made that America’s generous spirit paves the way for more riches to flow in. Indeed, the gospels teach that giving precedes blessings.

Here in Kenya, we still have a long way to go when it comes to integrating giving into our national fabric.

Majority of Kenyans still struggle to access the basic needs of food, shelter and water.

According to the World Bank, four in ten Kenyans still live below the poverty line. That severely compromises their ability to meet those basic needs. Even many of those above the poverty line continue to struggle with shelter.

In Nairobi, only ten per cent of city residents own the homes they live in. The rest continued to be weighed down by the rent burden, a situation exacerbated by Covid-19. Consequently, 37 percent of city residents were unable to pay rent. Things may not be getting better anytime soon.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani revealed earlier this year that out of the many Kenyans rendered jobless by Covid-19, 77.8 per cent were unsure of when they would return to work.

Although there are no more lockdowns and businesses are slowly but gradually resuming operations, there is a silent majority of Kenyans barely getting by. Their plight is drowned out by the political noise sweeping the country at the moment. We must be our brother’s keeper and take care of these fellow Kenyans.

Unlike America, Brazil and other richer nations, we cannot afford to hand out cash payments to millions of needy Kenyans. But we can definitely enact policies and measures that will make life easier for them.

These are the pressing issues our politicians should be addressing within and without Parliament.

Groucho Marx, an American comedian once described politics in a way that seems to ring true for many of our Kenyan politicians.

He said that, ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.’

Indeed, a large percentage of our politicians are guilty as charged. Let me therefore warmly give them a correct diagnosis about the state of millions of Kenyans – they are suffering from joblessness, inaccessibility to quality healthcare, lack of affordable housing, food insecurity and inadequate potable water. 

This is the diagnosis they must consistently provide legislative prescription for. Granted, politicians must politick. But if their politicking is not giving relief and sustenance to Kenyans, it is self-serving and pointless. These days nowhere is such politicking more evident than funerals.

Most politicians attend funerals to hurl political barbs at their opponents. This is extremely disrespectful for bereaved families that need to be given comfort in their time of bereavement, not political speeches.

A time has come for our political leaders to give transformative leadership to fifty million Kenyans. Giving is not just about giving commodities like foodstuff or cash handouts. As Kathy Calvin, the immediate former Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation put it succinctly, ‘Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.’

The best giving that our leaders can give to Kenyans is to make a lasting difference in the lives of the people that they lead. Everything they do, whether in Parliament or in public rallies, must be geared towards making a difference.

Ordinary Kenyans too, are also not exempt from this high bar of giving. We must all ask ourselves this question – am I making a difference in someone’s life or in my community?

The answer to this question will help us to interrogate the quality of our giving and improve on it substantively. Indeed, in 2021, we must give our resources, time, skills, and much more to make a lasting difference in Kenya. Think green, act green!

-The writer is founder Green Africa Foundation. www.isaackalua.co.ke

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