Back to the drawing board

James Ouma
Posted May 24, 2017 from Kenya

I don't know how disastrous my failure to turn up for Diamond's court case was yesterday. I didn't turn up in court due to a meeting where I hoped, and failed, to get more resources for my work. Because of this, I will be spending the next two days wallowing in anger, remorse and fear of the unknown. I am also battling with a thousand 'what if?' questions.

What if I would have attended court instead of going to a meeting I hoped would empower me to continue meeting the needs of the boys in juvenile prison?

What if I would have not completely trusted I was going to get a breakthrough despite the danger signs I kept ignoring along the way?

What if nobody really cares about the welfare of the boys I work with?

Because I had been so blinded by my quest to achieve something that has eluded me since I begun working with boys in juvenile prison, there is pain in my chest. I don't know how to deal with it, or how I am going to face Diamond and explain why I failed to turn up in court when he needed me most. And by failing to turn up in court I ended up defaulting on my word and promise to be there.

As I am writing this, tears stream down my face. I cannot shoulder this burden of reaching out for things I think I lack and therefore hope the same will hugely impact the lives of the boys I am working with. I still remember the very first time I met 100 boys in juvenile prison. I arrived in prison wearing a tucked in shirt, shining shoes and ironed pair of trousers. I had arrived in a taxi that a friend of mine had paid for, not knowing that there was going to be a time I was going to walk foot, lack decent clothes, underwear and have my house locked up due to rent arrears owed to my landlord.

I am no longer in desperate need of underwear, neither do I have a single pair of trouser nor is my house getting locked anymore. I am at a point where I have started earning income from my writing and can take care of my personal needs. This is a very good thing because as a man, I am finding meaning in what I am doing. However, my income is still not enough to enable me to carry out my mandate at the juvenile prison.

In fact, the vision behind Lifesong Kenya is getting bigger by the day and I need help. That is why I keep reaching out and asking more people, institutions and organizations to partner with Lifesong Kenya. Many are the times I have made contact in the past, thought I was making progress and only to discover - at the very last minute and not for the very first time - that I should have exercised more caution.

Back to the drawing board

When I was running during the Lukenya Trails Marathon, I prayed and asked God for direction, strength and wisdom. I asked Him to provide more clients who will pay for my online writing and more members for my reading club. And much as not being able to find partners and raise enough money from my running, I strongly believe that God has already provided for my personal needs, marriage and Lifesong Kenya's work with boys in juvenile prison.

It was until my latest failure to find resources that I remembered to revert to the drawing board. My drawing board involves totally leaning and depending on God. While I need more money for my work, God's peace, joy and affirmation is way better than the money I keep chasing and asking for. Besides, the things my boys and their families need, are intangible and cannot be met and fulfilled by money alone.

For instance, Diamond's mom has asked for capital so she can start a business. All she is asking for is a tray of eggs and a tin of groundnuts. That is a very humble request I am able to take of on my own, if only I was able to earn more from my writing. On the other hand, the boys need someone to meet their needs for someone to spend time with them, call and visit their family and the people they have wronged.

By going back to the drawing board, I am able to have the strength to deal with blowers of flickering lights and continue doing the things I am capable of doing to the best of my ability. By doing this, I am able to meet intangible needs that no amount of money can ever fulfill or satisfy. This is what is giving me the strength and confidence to face Diamond this coming Friday and tell him I am sorry for abandoning him at his time of need. I leave the rest to God.

Comments 3

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Jun 01, 2017
Jun 01, 2017

What a noble cause you are doing Juma. The boy child has been neglected for so long. May God provide people to help you fulfil your vision

María del Mar
Jun 02, 2017
Jun 02, 2017

Hello, Juma. I'd like you to know that you'll be the first one for me to encourage, and I'm very grateful to World Pulse for bringing me here. As you can see, my first languaje is not English, so I beg your pardon for all my mistakes. 

I think that the main words you've told us are: "What if nobody really cares about the welfare of the boys I work with?". This is the deepest, hardbreaker and, at the same time, motivational question that makes you go ahead against all odds. Sometimes it's hard to undertand our own lifes... but people like you may see your sense and propousal so clearly, and MUST be SO PROUD, loved and respected, that any doubt should be like soap bubbles.  Tanks for all your work, your thoughts, your compassion, your dedication and, of course, for sharing it here. Those who are boys today will be men tomorrow and will rememeber you forever. 

Mar 14, 2018
Mar 14, 2018

I must commend your doggedness towards the development of boys. The world appreciates you, the boys and I am sure posterity will appreciate you too. I pray you get more funding to continue the good work.
You may want to do some local fundraising or crowdfunding to fund your activities. Do not be discouraged by the present challenges, the most important thing is that you are making impact; improving lives;that's SUCCESS!