So many of the people I have met here are driven and passionate. They are hard-working and focused. They are kind and generous.
And so many of them struggle to meet their basic needs, let alone achieve their dearest dreams.
In keeping with the African Woman and Child Feature Service's mandate to get more female voices into the media, I am asking women I meet two simple questions:
1) Name one thing, other than money, that would improve your quality of life.
2) All practical needs aside, what is one thing that you dream of?
I have been so impressed here by the potential for Kenyans to succeed with just a little help: better access to education, better communications infrastructure, better health services.
The bread of Bread and Roses is intended to communicate directly the practical needs of Kenyan women.
But so much of the news out of Africa is of desperation and need, I wanted to give people a chance to talk about their sweet dreams as well.
The roses of Bread and Roses is an attempt to communicate the hearts of some of the people I meet.
So, with a nod to women working in Massachusetts textile mills a century ago, here is the first installment of Bread and Roses.
Grace Wakio Kireti, 19, Mombasa, Student
It�s sort of a challenging question, but� I believe that, if I�ll get to a point where I have the integrity to not compromise about the principles that I have in my life. To live a positive life, a true life before my God and my people, that�s one of the best things. I believe it will make me come to a point where it will satisfy my needs and my happiness in life.
What is one thing that you dream of?
I have so many dreams. I used to dream that, when I am given everything� money, what, and have all that� my dream is to come and help orphans. To come and bring up a charity home. That is one of my big dreams in life. I usually dream of having a good life. I read. I learn and I get a good job. Then I come and open up an orphanage for charity. I would love that because I love helping small kids that are orphans.
Racheal Pendo, 20, Mombasa, Student
I believe in faith. I believe that� I believe in prayers, that when I pray to God, I ask Him for something, He is capable of giving. That�s how I work.
What is one thing that you dream of?
Since I�m an orphan, I would like to be with my fellow orphans. The thing about orphans� other people are not capable of affording anything. Let�s say these poor families. I would like to help them. I would like to make, not like an orphanage, but to stay together with those people who are needy.
To make a family of orphans? Yeah.
About Bread and Roses
The Bread and Roses name comes from an old labour movement slogan, with the message that people ought to be able to meet their basic needs and realize loftier dreams. The women in a labor march in 1912 were asking for wages that would make it possible for them to buy not just bread (physical nourishment) but also roses (nourishment for their spirits).
Here in Kenya, this project should really be called Fruit and Cars.
Bread is an expensive luxury food here. Poor people eat fruit. Roses are cheap, since flowers are a major export item. Roadside vendors charge little for cut flowers that can't be exported because they are too close to budding.
But Bread and Roses sounds better than Fruit and Cars.
So far, this project has got me thinking a lot about interview technique, inter-cultural communication and my own learned social mores. But ramblings on those topics can wait for a future posting.
For now, whether you are male or female, please post your own answers to the two questions. If you want to include your hometown and your age, that would be great.