What I thought about Mombasa’s old people:
Their offspring uphold them with pristine care and love, regarding them as a source of wisdom and blessings. A natural shift in responsibilities occurs in ones adulthood and every parents’ care through old age rests in the hands of their progeny.
That thought changed to maybe not!
I covered a senior citizen’s feeding event in Mji wa Salama (a city of peace), Mombasa, courtesy of Donge la Mombasa Welfare Group (Donge). Old people’s homes in an African set up are odd. I never knew Mombasa had one until that day.
Earth is finally modern, nothing is strange!
Before your mind wonders, the home is property of the County Government of Mombasa and for some fortunate reason, sits adjacent to a privately owned orphanage. A unique occurrence of how a society can have babies and the elderly both lacking families to care for living as neighbors separated by a wire mesh fence.
The orphanage unselfishly allowed Donge to use its compound to prepare the food but humbly requested those with cameras not to take photos of any child in their care. I obliged and aimed my lenses everywhere but the kids. My goal was to cover the activities of the group’s members and their interaction with the elderly anyway. I later discovered that unsuspecting donors have in the past gotten skimmed using photos of kids from this orphanage.
The day went well and I was happy with the shots that I got. I shared them with Donge the following day and received generous praises. What broke my heart though, is the status of the old people’s home. Appalling to say the least. The seniors are sheltered in tiny quarters housing tired beds, torn bedding and any little worldly possessions, if any, they have left. For a moment I was lost in thoughts figuring out what might have gone wrong in their lives. Men and women with abundant wisdom and experience to share but no heirs to relay tales of their heydays to. Perhaps narrating to each other to make passing days shorter as they wait for the next angel to drop by with exciting goodies.
I watched through my view finder as they came forth in tattered clothes to be served. They conveyed cutlery older than their wrinkled hands.
The oldsters literally cheered as the delicious food got in sight. One broke into joyful melody boosting everybody else’s mood!
Fries and barbeque steak maybe the kind of food famous for brightening kids’ day on holidays. It was not any different for these golden-agers.
Of all that transpired that day, I hoped to go home with at least one candid photo. One that would motivate visits to Mji wa Salama to offer a helping hand.