Little by little..

I learnt about the Eye on Earth blog a while ago, and have been wondering what I could write about it. I got to a point where I literally gave up, but one day to the deadline, I found inspiration. I was going through the “Humans of New York” Facebook page to see what new posts had been put up, and that is where I found the content which I have written about.

As a person born and raised in Kenya, a country that is always in the international news for all the wrong reasons and heavily stereotyped into the negative, I know all too well the importance of having a different story being told. Perhaps if the world knew a different story about my country, the tweets that came after snapchat’s feature of Nairobi would have been positive ones, instead of the ignorant “I didn’t know Kenyans had cell phones or cars” or “the entire city used the same phone”. This is why I admire the work of HoNY and appreciate the work it does. Humans of New York was founded by Brandon Stanton and is dedicated to telling the stories of ordinary people in New York that do not get told. Every once in a while though, they cover different regions in the world and during the past few weeks, the team has been covering the stories of the people of Pakistan. All that most people know about that country, me included, is terrorism, but they have been uncovering the other side of the region that the rest of the world does not get to hear. They told of the successes, disappointments, joys and struggles that the people face. Throughout the process, a lot of information has been dispersed and stereotypes have been broken down and lives have been changed. So many stories were told, but of them all, two stood out as stories that led to positive change to the world of those involved both directly and indirectly.

The first was of a lady who had this to say “I left an abusive relationship and I have nowhere to go. I have Hepatitis C, so no one is willing to take me in. I don’t know how long I will live. I tried to give her up for adoption so that she’d have a good home. The wife of a minister told me about a place where I could drop her off. But when I got there, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.” (Her — the lady’s daughter).

The second instance was another lady, an activist against bonded labor in Pakistan. Bonded labor is where desperate laborers are tricked into accepting loans in exchange for agreeing to work at brick kilns for a short amount of time. However the terms of the loans mean that their debt increases as time goes on and due to their poverty; they are unable to pay it back. The laborers are then forced to work for the rest of their lives with no pay. Should a laborer die, the debt is passed on to his or her children. In her fight against this form of modern day slavery, she has been tortured, beaten, denied healthcare and has exhausted all her money in assisting these new age slaves.

HoNY brought this information into the limelight, to the attention of their more than 14 million followers. Not only have they educated a large number of people, but they have become agents of change in the sense that not only was the stereotype broken across the world, but the lives of many within and outside Pakistan were also changed. In a period of 72 hours, $2,000,000 was raised by total strangers across the world. This amount has five times purchasing power in Pakistan and is all to aid in the fight against bonded labor. The collective effort of people all over the world can save the lives of hundreds, maybe even thousands of people and families in Pakistan. It could be the means to bringing an end to this social ill. It could mean a better world for those modern day slaves, brought about through information.

Not forgetting the lady with Hepatitis C who has had an account created for her where people may help her with accommodation and medical services which she prefers over monetary assistance. Her small world and the world of her child are about to change for the better. All because information was shared and knowledge dispersed. Perhaps HoNY have found the secret. Perhaps a better world cannot be turned into a better place through a grand gesture. Perhaps the best way to a better world is by slowly changing the mindsets of people through information, and the people will slowly change the world. Ignorance is bliss, and it is the reason why many people struggle and suffer through mendable problems while the rest of the world goes on with their lives, not because they don’t want to help, but because they do not know that their help is required. I believe that it is in the human nature to want to be our neighbors’ keepers, all that we need is a sense of direction as to how we can give that assistance and bring forth a better world. That is where knowledge and information comes in, and that is why we need it. We may not be able to create a better world overnight, but by making individual worlds better, eventually the entire world will change. In Swahili we say “Haba na haba hujaza kibaba” which translates into “Little by little the container gets filled”

**Information and images to write this piece was extracted from the Humans of New York Facebook page and google.