I stopped collecting donations of used clothes and shoes from Kenyans because it can be very embarrassing to deliver them to those in need. A case in point is the recent Solai Dam disaster when a dam on Patel farm burst leaving scores dead and property worth millions destroyed.
On Wednesday this week I with a team of counsellors from Psychiatric Disability Organization of Kenya (PDO -K), were on the ground conducting a psychological needs assessment and conducting psychological first aid to the victims of the disaster. But the images on the gate of Solai Boys High Schools could not escape my attention.
Hundreds of worn out shoes were strewn all over. The shoes that no one however desperate could wear had been donated by “well-wishers” to assist the Solai Dam tragedy victims. The shoes are in such a bad state that no one, not even the poorest of Solai can lower their dignity by wearing them.
Can we learn how to donate to people in need with some dignity? These people were traumatized by what happened and we should not dehumanize then further by sending trash in the name of clothes/ shoe donations to them.
If you must give, give something that even you can take pride in wearing. Don’t give out what neither you nor your family can wear.
The most annoying thing was that Kenyans visited the site (not the victims) in tens of thousands taking selfies and posting them on social media in what I can ‘Disaster Tourism’. A few spent a fraction of their time there dropping the trash seen in this photo! Sad! Psychiatric Disability Organisation of Kenya
Written by Iregi Mwenja: Iregi is founder and director of Psychiatric Disability Organization of Kenya (PDO -K), an organization based in Nakuru that offers psychosocial support in the community.