Monday, August 24, 2009

On My Way to Work...

I step out of the house and walk towards the main road to board my morning matatu (local public transporation in Kenya). I am prepared for work but unprepared for the unavoidable road sightings that await me. My heart often skips a beat or two as I stare out the matatu window in anticipation of what I am about to witness yet again.

I watch as men and women of all ages head towards their destination. The most fortunate are driving or been driven in their air conditioned automobiles, the more fortunate silently utter prayers of safety on the rickety public transportation while the least fortunate line the sidewalks trekking (barefoot in some cases) to their destination. I pay the most attention to those people on the sidewalks. I watch them closely, trying hard to study their faces and I wonder about the source of their strength; the how’s and why’s they wake up every morning to continue their journeys on these side walks. For some people I see a determination with every step, with the hope of a better tomorrow. Others cannot hide a lost hope; they seem to have walked too far to turn around and without much strength to walk any further but knowing fully well that they cannot remain still. There are those who remain still of course and just seat on the sidewalks begging for alms; handicapped or not.

I continue to wonder about these people, about their situation and that of generations to come. The condition reinforces a harsh fact about life which can be summed up in one word, “unfair.” Growing up in Nigeria, I would hear the elderly remark that, "fingers are not equal" to emphasize this brutal fact of life. Although we cannot out-live life itself, we can outlive such principles of life. I believe that this is where we, as public health officials play a major role; to fight for the well-being of those people who suffer the unkind consequences of life’s unfairness. During my first year at the school of public health, I kept hearing the phrase “reduce inequity” almost everywhere from professors and students alike. And I hope that we will continue to work hard to translate this phrase into actions that can be felt by the unfortunate, not only in Kenya but across the globe.

Bolanle Bukoye
ScM Candidate, 2010
Global Health & Population
Harvard School of Public Health

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