The evening news can be a source of heartache and stress more than it can be a source of information. I have heard many people say that Kenyan news is too depressing to watch. If it’s not the leaders we woke up early to go vote for doing everything but what they promised to do, then it’s the society turning against itself in every way.
A man who hacks his wife and children to death before taking his own life, the rising cases of violent crimes, road accidents, community intolerance, hate speech you name it, it will be on your menu everyday on the evening news. As if you don’t get enough of the bad news at the end of every day, the newspapers will be ready to remind you the following morning how bad, the bad news was yesterday.
In media they say that good news is not news. If a dog bites a man, that’s not news. But if the man bites the dog, well that is something to talk about. Truth be told, we don’t watch the news hoping to see anything encouraging. In most cases we will flip through the channels to get different versions of the same bad news we saw on one station.
But bad news is not always bad for us. There is need for you and I to see what is happening around us in our communities and the country at large. It is important for us to see what our leaders are doing after we voted for them (*coughs* Gilgil weigh bridge). It helps to know what other communities are doing (and not doing) with what they have. It is here that we too can and should see opportunities to engage and impact our culture and communities.
How many children don’t have access to basic education or study in very harsh conditions? How many young people need a mentor to guide them in their career choices? How many women need access to better maternal health care? How many men need information on better business opportunities so that they can better provide for their families? What can we do about the issues that consistently affect our country; hunger, insecurity, alcohol and drug abuse and many more? Can you and I help in any way?
You would be surprised to find out that most of the needs around you don’t need a member of parliament or local leader to solve. You would probably do more with the “little” that you have than the so called leaders. Some of us work in organizations that fund different developments but we will never consider reaching out to our community leaders to let them know of the opportunities. Some of us are teachers but we have never thought that maybe during the holidays we could offer the children in our neighborhoods remedial lessons. We like to see that as someone else’s “problem”.
There are many opportunities for us to give back to society. We don’t have to wait to be in political offices to influence change. In fact, that mentality is what makes our leaders feel like they are super heroes and not servants. We can change that. If every one of us finds an avenue to support and influence our communities, the dependency on leaders to do everything for us might just end. Imagine what would happen in our society if you and I could use whatever we have.
I love radio and I believe that it is one of the most important tools that can be used to influence change. This year there are two things that have captured my heart (well, they always have but I am putting in more focus); Children Hygiene and Female Genital Mutilation.
Many children die every day because of diarrhea and other hygiene related diseases. These diseases can be prevented through simple acts like washing your hands with clean water soap. But many communities in Kenya still don’t have access to clean water or soap. For us who do, we don’t take advantage of this privilege. We don’t have to lose any more lives, we can influence change. We can teach communities how to save lives through better hygiene practices like hand washing.
I recently saw a shocking video of what happens during FGM and it shattered my heart to know that young under age girls will drop out of school to be forced to get married after this extremely painful ritual. Their chances of a better future that education offers us will traded for cows and goats and that is if they survive or don’t get infected with HIV/AIDS. Surely everyone should have the right to an education. I don’t know how to influence this sector yet especially because it is a deep seated cultural practice, but am willing to learn what others are doing and contribute their efforts.
This is my influence plan for the year. What is your influence plan?