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.
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
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.
Failure to rescue a life
“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