Changing the Lens: Perspective Shift

“Perspective is everything. Every experience, feeling attached to it and the impact it has on us is dependent on how we perceive of it.”

We are a whole sum of our experiences from the day we were born to the day we bow out. It’s the gift of life. As a disclaimer at times the view we assume in life is dependent on our surrounding and socialization process which on most occasions is not ideal. Well, ideal doesn’t exist but we aspire for a moment in time when ideal will be a norm. I hope it happens in this lifetime.

So as always when I write there is a trigger from my experiences, encounters or conversations. Today as I was heading into town to pass my time I was online on Twitter as usual consuming the content being churned by avid content creators like myself on such occasions. My attention was drawn to a brief tweet, (I say brief because you already know the character limits on twitter then this was a shorter version but loaded), that was as precise on what’s failing activism; “Activism fails because activists want fame” (paraphrased). I then realized how changing the focus on what really is behind what we do can have substantial impact on the outcome.

I am passionate about community development and most times the work I do is inclined to my vocation, pharmacy, which makes most of these be in the healthcare sector. In retrospection from the “Aha” moment I got drawn to experiences I have had in the past. In a society that most programs are designed for end-consumers without much of their input on it, I thought of a support group for Youth Living with HIV/AIDS that I had the chance to interact with in the recent past. In the last decade or so we have seen many NGOs among other civil society organizations coming up to be allied to supporting People Living with HIV/AIDS yet in reality not much of the concerns of these people are factored. In this case it means the interventions designed for them are not feasible as they may not adopt them.

In the support group, the most important yet hushed discussion in the circles are on relationships and dating. Knowing most HIV infections are sexually transmitted, it’s important to incorporate and be realistic about the impact of such a situation to the final recipient’s social lives. I did a thread and survey on this on twitter earlier, you can check it here. You will realize how  changing the lens and viewing the whole programming from their point of view incorporates very critical and pertinent concerns. We are social beings who thrive in the company of others, do we create conditions for this to happen?

Secondly, I have had my fair share of business failures as well. From opening a library after High School which only ever had a single consistent user to an eatery (Kibandaski in fancy terms) during my campus days. In the eatery business if you can guess it, in a Kenyan public universities the market dynamic are even more dynamic and evolving. I had a fair run but as always, strikes form part of our university curriculum except for this time it had additional components i.e. doctors strike (affecting hospital training), lecturers’ strike and students’ strike (both paralyzing academic programs which meant the universities were not operational = no market). During these days we could cook and be stranded with our food. Late in the evenings I made pretty good friends; Peter and Dave leading the crew (street kids). Knowing our circumstances they would always come to get a share of the remains at the end of the day. With time they would offer to clean the surroundings for us, arrange the store for us. One of my partners instituted a rule that they had to bathe everyday before they came for food. In the last two months I witnessed transformation in these kids. Unfortunately, we closed shop and had to let go of this partnership. (PsWe were not feeding them out of the kindness of our hearts but as a better way to dispose of the food without wasting it and they had use for it.)

Later, a friend of mine was starting a street children feeding program in the CBD for which I joined in on one of the visits. It was a worthwhile experience and as a lover of stories I had a moment to chat with one of them which gave me the title. As street children or street families, they are out in the space with nobody ever knowing the circumstances that got them there and no probable redress forthcoming but we’ll have NGOs that come to care for them but not really caring for them as they don’t have a voice in the arrangement. This gave me an idea of giving them a voice which I have never gotten to but I hope I will. In line with the previous arrangement (eatery experience) I just thought it out in having a semi-structured arrangement where they get the support they need while being rehabilitated seamlessly for integration into the society.

Oh! And giving them a voice by really getting to hear their stories, giving them a chance at life and letting them thrive in what they do as integral members of the society. (Inspired by Humans of New York).

“If you want to see a better world, change the lens through which you see it and do the work to make it better.” ― Jeffrey G. Duarte

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