As I was walking along the streets of Nairobi, a lady stopped me and asked, ‘Are you Brenda Sharp?’ I nodded. ‘I know you from Facebook! Thank you very much for your lessons on letting go. You came at a critical moment when I was battling leaving my abusive relationship. I am now at that point where I am asking myself, where do I go from here?’ This question challenged me. I realized I had a task ahead of me to continue the conversation I had started. So on this month of May we will continue the conversation, this time on new beginnings.
It’s early 2016, I have been sent for a reporting meeting to Dadaab refugee camp. I had been suffering vicarious trauma and as a result was burned out. The more I talked with my therapist the more I realized there was this push in me to quit the job. I had taken a police vehicle, with two police officers seated up front – one of them the driver – and two officers and I behind. I was the only woman and somehow I felt safer as a woman but unsafe on this path. The vehicle as you can guess is going at extreme speeds for safety. I watch children on the way asking for water and one police officer throws a bottle through the metal openings on the cruiser. We ram into rocks and ruts but nothing stops the man from driving at those speeds. The ride is a roller-coaster of hard bumps and jumps and at some point I’m nauseated. Stories of attacks and kidnappings keep replaying in my head, sometimes with me as the victim. I try and concentrate on this dry land where nothing grows this shrubby thorny tree. Emaciated people peek from the meager shade the tree throws and deep within you know how the enemy hides among the innocent. I ask myself questions, why would I, Brenda be here? Why shouldn’t I, the daughter of Kapngatip just go home to Chepkunyuk and the serenity pluck tea in that lush green, making 200 shillings a day and be content rather than live in this constant fear of an impending attack. I know I can eat and survive even in the small garden where the gods in their infinite grace have seeded wild foods such as Chepkerta and mushrooms. More and more I was convinced. By the time I was in Dadaab I had made a decision. I was done and leaving.