When I was about 6 years old I lived in Kenya. There was a lot of poverty and there were always street children on the roads asking for money. There was such a big divide between those children and me and I grew up very aware of being so fortunate.
We had a wonderful and very kind driver, John, who had been working with my family for decades. He used to take us to and from school. One day we had to take a detour on the way to school and whilst we were stopped in traffic a young street child, probably no more than 10 years old, called out with a friendly greeting. “Jambo, John!”
He approached the car and shook John’s hand. John then gave him a little bit of money and waved him off with a smile before we carried on our way to school.
I had watched the whole incident from the back seat completely surprised. I knew that John worked very hard to make ends meet. He had a large family himself. We were always sending packets or rice and fruit and other snacks and clothes for his family and I knew that he didn’t have any spare money. So, of course, at that age I couldn’t understand why he would be giving money to the child.
“Who was that I asked?” I asked. “My friend,” he replied, “I see him every morning on my way to work and I give him a little bit of money.” Still unable to comprehend I asked, “Why do you have to give him money every morning?” John replied, “So he can use it to buy some food.”
It was probably in that moment that I understood what kindness really was.
Someone who was in a difficult situation themselves still found some money to spare for a child who needed it. Even at the age of 6 that had such a profound impact on me. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I didn’t have any money, but I wanted to contribute too.
Every Friday we would have dinner at my grandparents’ house and, after dinner, my grandfather would give us a chocolate bar when my mum wasn’t looking. I would save mine up so I could give it to John to give to his friend.