Collecting and Piecing Fragments Together

Collecting and Piecing Fragments Together
Failing to stop in time to save this chameleon shattered something inside of me

Waylong has been visiting with us. It was the second time he was visiting and this time he only stayed for a few days. Something happened today that reminded me about yesterday’s disappointment during our morning bike ride. We didn’t have a bike and therefore couldn’t ride with Waylong yesterday. The fact that he won’t join us for this Sunday’s ride from Nairobi to Machakos Town, broke his heart.

We were out for lunch today, talking, laughing and having fun. I have come to discover that there are two sides to Waylong. There is the side that overthinks stuff and gets lost in thoughts of what life can be. Then there is another side that marvels at everything that is so magical about life.

Cycling, rapping and drawing brings out the second side more. While what Waylong has experienced and gone through, warrants his retrospective nature, I long to see him blossom. I remember the evening Earnest, Heather and I visited Waylong at his aunt’s house. I saw and felt how much Waylong wanted to escape from all the squalor surrounding his environment.

We jumped over open sewers and dodged rats the size of an obese cat. I grew up in utter poverty and knows what it feels like to lack basic needs. However, what we saw broke my heart. The aunt, despite her genuine delight and joy at hosting us, felt embarrassed not to afford to serve the three of us a cup of strong tea.

Dead men walking

On our way out, we saw hundreds of men squatting on the dirt. Most were drinking cheap liquor from tin cups. Some were hunched over pieces of newspapers plotting the next football bet. As we drove through, not many of them flinched a muscle. I imagined what horror what young children, especially young girls had to go through on their way to and from shops. This isn’t an ideal environment to raise up a child, I thought.

As we ate lunch with Julius, Earnest and Job Naibei today, these thoughts ran through my mind. We kept discussing what the future held for Waylong and everything was fine. Waylong even cracked jokes of his own as we continued eating our chapatis. A few minutes later, the phone rang.

If you have ever had a meal with me, you will know how much I abhor answering phone calls. Waylong knows this. So I everyone else. However, when the phone rang and we saw it was for Waylong, he knew it was okay to answer the call.

A few seconds later, Waylong’s bright smile got wiped off his face. The fork he was holding in his right hand trembled while the chapatis held by the fork shook. I knew things were not alright. I asked what the matter was and he said he was going to talk to me later, alone.

Inside Out Program
Waylong dreams of going back to school next year and needs help to do so

Then I remembered the chameleon that Earnest and I failed to save during our bike ride yesterday. I wanted to reach across the table so I could hold Waylong in my arms and reassure him that everything was going to be alright.

I felt trapped, unable to think or move a muscle.

Collecting and piecing fragments together

Half Way Cycle
Every single boy in juvenile prison deserves to be rescued even when it takes a century to do so
After finishing lunch, we drove off to town for a meeting concerning our Half Way Cycle event. On our way, so many things went through my mind. None of them had anything to do with the meeting ahead of us. I started collecting and piecing fragments together. Doing so was going to help me handle whatever Waylong was going to share with me later.
Flash back to yesterday’s morning ride

I had to deal with so many disappointments prior and during yesterday’s morning bike ride.

First, Waylong couldn’t join us for the ride since the bike we had given him had broken down. This also means he won’t be coming to Machakos Town on Sunday as well. Being one of our long time mentees from the time he was in juvenile prison, it was heartbreaking not to ride with us.

Secondly, I felt to respond on time. As a result, a chameleon lost its life!
As Earnest and I descended off the Thogoto Hill we kept gathering speed. A few minutes later I looked down and saw a chameleon at the edge of the road. Much as it was motionless, I knew it would slowly inch towards the Southern Bypass Road. I rode past the chameleon.

Failure to rescue a life

By the time it hit my mind that I needed to go back and save the chameleon’s life, it was already way too late! But there was no way I could know this based on my knowledge of how slow a chameleon can walk. There’s now way that chameleon can walk that fast, calling out to Earnest and coming to an abrupt halt. After turning around, I pushed my bike towards where I had seen the chameleon. I so wanted to save the chameleon’s life. But this wasn’t to be so.
We came back only to find the chameleon’s lifeless body lying on the hot tarmac. I stood there, helplessly watching as multiple vehicles continued crashing the dead chameleon. Then I thought about the boys we are mentoring and are taking too long to transform.
“These boys need to be rescued, I can see it in their eyes and feel it in their beating hearts,”

– Patty Liston, founder of the Standing With Boys Program

Collecting and piecing fragments together conclusion
I am about to conclude collecting and piecing fragments together. I strongly feel it won’t be complete if I don’t share what Waylong told me today. Waylong has an elder brother who was being sponsored through high school. He is supposed to join Form Four next year. However, the sponsor has pulled out from paying school fees and we fear he won’t be able to continue with his education.
As our team investigates the reasons behind this latest turn of events, I would like to say that Waylong and his brother needs help. Kindly contact us if you own a school, know someone who does or can help in any way. Let’s help give Waylong and his brother a life song!
Collecting and Piecing Fragments Together
James Ouma

James Ouma

James Ouma is an author and former children’s TV Producer who has impacted the lives of male teens who need to find clarity. He quit his job as a TV Producer in 2013 in order to develop a restorative justice program for at-risk male teens exiting juvenile prison. His work has seen him get nominated for the 2019 Utumishi Bora Award. He is an avid cyclist who uses cycling and running to fundraise for Lifesong Kenya’s REAM Program.

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