Seasons: Part 1 – The Trek

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I secured my first job just a few months out of high school. I had some time before I was due at university and I heard that the International Committee of the Red Cross was hiring clerks for a big project. I offered my services as a volunteer and after stubbornly sitting at their reception on Dennis Pritt Road in Nairobi every morning for weeks, I finally got a position.

We started our work, opening files, attaching photos to cards and logging in details. As the days went by, the importance of what we were doing dawned on me. Our focus was Sudan where a large number of children, boys to be precise, were making a trek into Kenya. We had a picture of each child taken at a camp within Sudan. We had details of their names, ages, height, description and some family information. After a few days we would receive information that we had to log in. This information was registration data from a stop over point closer to Kenya. But some of the boys were not on the registration list. We would separate those files, close them and hand them to a different office.

Eventually I asked what happened to they boys who had not registered.

“They did not make it.” I was told.

They did not make it…

Each file I closed was a life lost…. They did not make it…

I asked why these boys were walking all by themselves, so young, too weak to carry supplies, at the mercy of the animals and the harsh environment, with only each other to hold onto. “It is the only way we can get them into Kenya and getting them into Kenya is their best chance of survival.”

I was horrified. Upset. Angry. I wished I had money to send trucks to pick them up… ‘Why can’t we do more?’ I lamented internally. But all I could do was wait expectantly for the next report.

I shed tears for the boys who did not make it.
I shed tears that they all had to endure such suffering.
I shed tears for the girls did not even stand a chance.
I shed tears for the families that were torn apart.
I shed tears that this was my Africa.

That was my first job. It was the early nineties and those were the Lost Boys of Sudan. While media reports indicate that the boys were between 7 to 17 years old, I recall that there were toddlers who made that journey. Many were young, many were just babes, protected and cared for by the older boys. I recall some of the older boys lost their lives fighting off wild animals that would trail behind them, hoping to feed on the weak and tired boys who fell back. What sheer strength and character!

It breaks my heart that they suffered…

I wonder where some of those boys are today. They are heroes, all of them. At such a tender age facing the choice of that arduous trek or imminent death.

May they all be blessed abundantly, may their cups spilleth over for their burden was too great, and they were far too young. We owe them a better Africa, we owe ourselves a better Africa. I pray that we get there.

At a personal level I realized that we all face a great arduous trek in life, but for some of us it is more severe than it is for others. For some of us it comes when we are young, for others the worst hits us later. How we conduct ourselves through the great trek will determine much of our life to come. The question is can we make it through the trek with our dignity intact? Can we make it through the great trek with grace, courage and love? For if we are driven by hate and destruction, selfishness and cowardice, the trek will destroy us even as the journey begins.

Afro-optimist * Wife * Mother * Child of God TV Host * Writer * Producer * Entrepreneur * Philanthropist

26 Comments on "Seasons: Part 1 – The Trek"

  1. Mkamboi Mwakale says:

    mmmmh…food for thought on the personal journeys we make. True ~we owe ourselves a better Africa.

    • sarah says:

      This journey only needs integrity n God’s favour.. As humans we all need direction in lyf n only with God’s fear n respect can we over come with dignity… Kudo’s Juls u do a great job always

  2. julie you are the most gorgeous babe ever ever..

  3. Sam Gituku says:

    True, true Gathoni,
    Humanity is meant to be cooperative rather than competitive where all of us can win.
    It’s my and your responsibility to devote greater live in all we do Blessed Mother Teressa of Calcutta used to say: “on the judgement day, God will not ask you how much work youdid, rather He shall ask, how much love did you put in what you did?”
    She would also say “be faithful in small things, for it’s in them that your strength lies”

    May the grace of God overwhelm all suffering minors.

  4. Wacerah Machariah says:

    My heart broke as I thought of those young boys and the journey they made. Lets build Africa as a united people in memory of those children who suffered and lost their lives. We owe to them.

  5. joseph says:

    hope and a little faith that we will be there someday is all we need.

  6. El-J says:

    Very inspiring analogy. We all are on a journey yes africa is but the way and manner we conduct ourselves in more important for me than the distance covered. Even Jesus and Prophet Muhammad did not die at old age but their lives will continue to impact lives world without end. Jesus died at 33 while Prophet Muhammad died at 63….interesting. Its a decision for Africa.

  7. Mike says:

    Inspiring. Above all, thought provoking.

  8. Jackline Nkoroi says:

    Inspiring, Julie how do I go about starting a personal blog.

  9. Great inspiring words Julie, I thought I had the biggest baggage on my back,but after reading this it has shown me that I am carrying a clutch bag….it is not a good enough reason to stop at anything;It has really provoked me to work harder and walk the extra mile (killing the laziness that crops in when all the hard work is needed)

  10. Andrew Mude says:

    Deeply poignant. It disturbingly conjures up memories of scenes one may find in a Natural Geographic documentary; of predators stalking migrating prey, waiting to pick of the young or injured. And of the pack, trying its best to fend of the danger and protect the weak; but when the going gets too tough, and the weak fall, they make the sacrifice, fueled by the instinct to survive. What makes it all the more wrenching is that with the recent atrocities being currently committed in the Sudan (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/06/act-now-stop-genocide-sudan-nuba), there are probably a trail of torn, broken youth, stumbling along in a not dissimilar trek hoping that they will be among the few that make it out of the Nuba mountain region. Imagine the agony of an older brother, himself starving, afraid, stricken, unable anymore to carry his ailing younger brother, but knowing that if he doesn’t push on, stay with the pack, they will both perish out in the aliments. How do you make such a decision? This is humanity; is no buffalo sacrificing its injured offspring to the lion pack snipping at the herd’s feet.

    Julie, you raised something that stuck. You wished you had the money to send them trucks? But what of the ICRC and all other humanitarian offices – or even the UN OCHA? How is it that they can manage camps at which the boys pass through, register, and then are pointed in the direction of the next camp and told ‘best of luck’? I must be missing something here.

    • Andrew… You raise a very important point…at that point the situation in Sudan and Ethiopia was terrible and escalating. Most agencies had moved out of the territory and even ICRC was doing the same. The registration points were makeshift setups… There was debate about whether convoys of trucks would have been even more dangerous for the boys… put yourself in the region at the time. How would this have been perceived? Would they have been safe? It is beyond me, only God knows… It does not stop the frustration though. And even now, do we do enough? Hmmmmm…

  11. Thank you all for the amazing feedback. Each life has a purpose. They will not be forgotten if we commit to building a better continent, ensuring this will never happen again.

  12. This is such a reminder of the dangerous paths we pass through,with the hope that we will someday arrive at destination Kenya,i really believe those boys did arrive and the fact that we remember them its true they are alive becoz they’ve taught us perseverance and hope……im inspired

    Thanks Julie.

  13. Wangu says:

    A very nice read this morning Julie, lesson learned : we all struggle at different levels you struggled to get the job they struggled to get into Kenya, more so we should not take Peace for granted.
    May god help everyone of us to bear our burdens with zeal.
    Great! God bless.

  14. Stella says:

    That speech you just gave the girls was amazing! Inspiring….and oh yea, remind them always that u began far:factory! Cheers

  15. Stella says:

    That speech you just gave the girls was amazing! In Ngandu girls! Inspiring….and oh yea, remind them always that u began far:factory! Cheers

  16. Johnson says:

    This is a lesson to be learnt by our Politicians them being the our ”big brothers”as we have put them there to see to it that they try to make the lives of the common mwanainchi as comfortable as possible on this Treck called life and protect us from the wild animals inform of election violence or any other form of injustices that we the common mwanainchi might face from time to time,and this is through comming up with legislation and policies to safe guard our intrests in general and not just their own

  17. Kenneth Vekima says:

    We indeed owe them more than something.We owe them respect,we them a better Africa..but most of all,we owe out motherland the love we share our mothers..

  18. Anthony Mwangi says:

    It makes me grief but also happy that you can inspire people like that. Tony was my boss at KBS. I WISH YOU WELL

  19. sheilah mwiti says:

    julie gichuru you are my role model. I hope one day to be a sensational newsanchor like you! Team Julie always!

  20. Rones. says:

    Thanks Julie once again,to remind me of the several journeys we make others don’t.Yes i have a dream and believe that African Child is fortunate even in hard struggles.I walk on the sea shores and feel the breeze in Africa and feel home,BUT the question is WHY? am here fixing ma eyes to the hand writings of this lady,may she had to on the floor i will make!-You got inspired Julie and now ready to be a spring source of lives in African child.Thank you and God enlarge your territories that your dream and cry for Africa as you saw those Trek…you live to be.long Live

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