When I landed in Nairobi with my fellow travelers back in July, one of the first faces I saw as I exited Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was the one you see above. Arthur works for EOS Visions, the organization ONE.org enlisted to help with our travel logistics on the ground. I immediately liked Arthur: he's soft-spoken with perpetually kind eyes. "Karibu, Kenya," he said, extending his hand to each of us. "Welcome."
Over the next couple of days, as we blearily traveled all over Kenya, Arthur would just suddenly appear. He was rarely on the bus that took us everywhere, but somehow, whenever we arrived at our destination, Arthur would quietly be there, surveying the scene. "Where the heck did you come from?" I'd tease, feigning surprise. "I never see you, and then suddenly, there you are. What are you, some kind of phantom?"
Maybe!" he would joke back. "I'm always here. Even when you don't see me, I'm here. You're just not looking."
During that week, he continued to suddenly appear, always exactly when we needed him. Once, when we were caught in an impossible traffic jam, Arthur got out of the car that was in and took it upon himself to start directing traffic for our convoy, ignoring the ineffective police officer who was just standing in the middle of the road, at a loss. For our entire stay, Arthur was always a consummate professional, making sure that every last detail had been seen to, and that there were absolutely no hitches on our trip -- make no mistake, Arthur was a huge part of the reason that our trip to Kenya ran as smoothly as it did, and will remain one of the most memorable trips of my life.
And in between his work, Arthur and I became friends. He showed me pictures of his wife and his baby, and I showed him pictures of Marcus and Alex. He told me all about Kenya, and about his life there. And on our last night, as our group was having drinks near a huge bonfire, Arthur and some of his coworkers taught me some of the dance moves to music that was currently very popular in Kenya.
I like to think that they were laughing with me, and not at me.
Anyway, this week, when I heard about the horrible gas explosion and fire that killed scores of people in Sinai, a slum in Nairobi, my thoughts immediately went to everyone who we'd met while we were there. As soon as I read the news, I contacted Arthur via Twitter:
Arthur, I saw the news - how can we help?
His response was immediate, and though short, conveyed his concern:
currently many are homeless in need of blankets, clothing and basic things
I sent him another message:
email me an address to send things to (firstname.lastname@example.org) & we'll put out a call.
Yesterday, I finally heard from Arthur, with an address for the Kenya Red Cross where I could send help. And although I'm currently traveling, as soon as I return this weekend, I'm going to be going through all of my clothing, Marcus' clothing and Alex's clothing, to find some gently-worn things to send as soon as I can next week. It's the very least I can do to help repay the kindness that everyone in Kenya, including Arthur, showed us during that amazing trip.
But also, I'm going to quite boldly ask you, friends, if you have the means, to please do the same. I know this is asking a lot: it's not cheap to send things to the other side of the planet, not to mention that there are so many people here in this country where I live who are also in need. In fact, as I type this, wildfires are raging all over Texas, and actually, one broke out last night here in Houston, less than 5 miles from our home. And yet, I'm still going to ask. Having actually seen the slums of Nairobi with my own eyes, I know that the folks who live there had so little to begin with, and unlike here in the United States, when tragedy befalls them, they can't turn to friends and family for shelter or financial support -- it's just not there. Given that I was shown so much kindness and generosity during my visit, I feel it would be criminal of me not to at least ask you to help, if you can, and are so moved.
And now, here's me shamelessly sharing a picture of one of the awesome kids I met while visiting a slum near Sinai, in the hope that her cute face will help so move you:
I know, that was low. But come on, she's cute, right? And her fellow citizens could really use our help.
Thanks in advance, friends. And to everyone, Happy Love Thursday. May you see and spread love today.
Here's the contact information for the Kenya Red Cross, where donations can be forwarded:
P.O. Box 40712 00100-GPO
ATT: Sinai Fire Victims