Q & A with Jane Mwangi On what Motivates her


Jane Mwangi flashed a big old smile as I walked towards her; this was the first time we were meeting. Her high spirits and easy personality had us chatting up like old friends. I was eager to learn what keeps Jane Motivated and so hopeful given all that she had been through. Jane Mwangi’s life took a drastic turn on Saturday May 28, 2015 when she was robed and shot.

E. At what point did you make a conscious decision that I will walk again?

J. As I lay on the hospital bad day and day out looking up at the hospital celling for hours on end, that’s when I said to myself Jane you will walk again, you have to walk again do not be doomed to a life on the wheelchair. Don’t get me wrong, I mean knew I can live a fulfilling life on a wheelchair I just feel like it will stifle my dreams. And I know I am being made for big things and I cannot do them while on this wheelchair.

E. Do you have a game plan?

J. “Honestly, I didn’t have a game plan but my faith carried me through, my faith in God even before the accident is what kept me focus. The bible tells me that God is the same today tomorrow and forever more. If God was able to bless me all my life with so many favors, this was definitely not the time to let go of God, because I know he would never let go of me. This is just a hurdle on my life’s journey I know that God has a plan for me. As I lay in that bed, something kept whispering, “ be still and know that I am God,” those words kept me going I knew that even though I am laying in that bed, in pain there there was something bigger coming.

E. What role have you friends played so far?

J. My friends showed up in a big way, they used to visit two at a time throughout the day it would get to a point the nurses would even tell them, “she needs a break she’s tired”. Even when I was in the ICU they were still allowed to visit there was no moment where I felt like I was alone. My family, friends, and boyfriend they kept me going and they still do.

E. What you’re going through is hard, how do you deal with the hard days?

J. To be honest, I do have a lot of hard days, we call them “low days” I would be lying if I said that it’s sunshine all the time, and it’s not at all. In the beginning the biggest challenge was the bowel and bladder incontinence, try imagine, as a grown woman having to wear a diaper or having someone change it while they clean you, now that can take you to a new low.

E. I can only imagine, what about now?

J. Nowadays, the challenge is my daily activity, when I wake up in the morning I have to strategize on how to get from the bed to the wheelchair and then stay the wheelchair until I go to therapy, getting into the car is a chore all on it’s own and by the time I am calling it a night, I am so exhausted. You see, with the spinal cord injury your body is simply not functioning the way it should, for instance my body temperature fluctuates randomly. I am learning to adjust to the new reality that I am living in, even if it’s for just a short time.

E. Do you have a support system for the low days?

J. I have a few friends who are living with spinal cord injuries that I met after mine happened; they are they ones I reach out to during those low moments. I realize that no matter how much I pray, and stay positive, those low days are going to happen. For instance, I’ll get a call from one of my friends and when he says “today is one of my low days, “ I tell him it’s gonna pass,” and he knows that I totally understand him.

E. Yeah, if you told me that your having a low day I would probably empathize with you and promptly try to do something to cheer you up – I really wouldn’t be able to fully understand what you are going through or what you need.

J. Yes, some of my other friends would default to cheering me up buy suggesting we watch a movie or something like that to keep me busy.

E. It’s great that you have a support system to deal with the low days.

J. Yes, and I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve become so much more emotional. Nowadays, if I see something on TV about flooding or a tragedy, I feel so much more emotionally than I would have before. But I think it’s because now I can really relate to other people’s pain now better than I could before.

E. Absolutely! Now, let’s change gears for a minute, It was approximately 16 hours before you received any medical attention, are you distraught by the state of the medical system in Kenya?

J. It is a very sad, but not an impossible situation. Although I do look back and wonder what, “if they had seen me immediately would I still have gotten the spinal cord injury? Wouldn’t be as bad as it is now? Would I have been at that wheelchair?” Probably not and I realize that this is the case for so many people in Kenya who are living in all manner of conditions so to answer your question, yes! I do get angry and I think I’m entitled to my anger.

E. Indeed you are!

J. Yes, we need some policies to change; healthcare reforms, bad doctors and nurses need to be fired! A lot needs to happen. I pray to God to give us leaders who are going to truly effect some changes in Kenya and that’s my prayer every day.

E. I couldn’t agree more! Sounds like this awakened an activist in you?

J. Yes I believe so! I’m still trying to understand why God kept me alive; I do believe I am here for a purpose. And right now, it’s to be a champion for the change that Kenya your needs.

E. Very well said Jane. Yes, you can defiantly use this hurdle in your life to champion a great change in Kenya.

J.I keep saying I’m going to make some noise I’m not gonna shut up! Because while lying on that hospital bed for 16 long hours, I was a victim, but because I am alive today that makes me a survivor and I cannot keep quiet. People need to know the state of the medical system in Kenya and someday things will change for the better.

E. Tell me about Nelly the neighbor who came to your rescue that night; what was the first thing you told him when you saw him after the incident?

J. Yes, he is a big reason as to why I am alive today; my parents told me that he was the one who found me, when I saw him after the incident, the first thing I said to him was, “oh my God how am I ever going to repay you!” From that moment forward we have definitely grown closer as friends.

E. On your blog, you wrote a piece, “America be kind to me” has it?

J. Yes, it has in more ways that I could count! I feel like I have been adopted into a community. I couldn’t be more grateful!

E. How are you handling the newfound fame and popularity?

J. At times I would question God for making me popular through such a horrific incident. A friend of mine however told me, “No Jane, God is using you to show himself. God uses that which is not pretty by human standards to show himself, “and hear I am on ABC news, blogs, newspapers, radio stations and so on – it is pretty amazing how God works!

E. Yes it is! You are now an inspiration to others, how does that make you feel?

J. It looks like God had something bigger in mind for me, back in Kenya I used to sing in the church choir and I thought this must be my purpose, but now I see that God had something bigger in mind.

E. How do you manage your expectations?

J. I ask God to lead the way, I read books by others who have gone through similar ordeals and I am often reminded neither to be afraid nor to get ahead of myself, just to take it a day at a time.

E. Final thoughts?

J. We all need to remember that no one can live in isolation there will come a time when one needs their brother, sister, neighbor or countryman. The community here in the US and back home have shown me how united we are. It is great to see that the Harambee spirit still lives on.

Jane continues to go to Baylor for rehab and outpatient therapy.

 Support Jane Mwangi:

https://www.gofundme.com/b4xmc9z8

  • Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Jane.Mwangi.M/?fref=ts

Upcoming run: Houston TX  8/13/2016 

Photo credits:

MoSey’s Photography

Truthsayer Show www.dallasweeklyradio.com

Dj XP – Charles Opore Photography

Project I am Kenyan


Project I am Kenyan is based on the following premise:

Kenya has about 42 different tribes and other communities

 We can never be “tribeless”

Our tribe is part of our identity

It is ok to own your tribe

Just remember that being Kenyan is bigger than your tribes

 We are all Kenyan  

What the Kenyan Government and leaders do: 

 Use our different tribes to divide us while they get away with murder and rob our country

Play different ethnic groups against each other so as to remain in power

 Things we need to stop doing:

Fighting and hating each other based on our differences

Using social media to express our anger

Taking to the streets to fight each other

Having selective amnesia

Electing leaders based on our tribal differences

Things we need to start doing:

Hold each other accountable

Having constructive dialogue based on our common goals for our country

Embrace our different tribes and build upon our strengths

Hold the government and our leaders accountable

Elelct leaders who have a proven track record, to better the Kenyan people as a whole and not just themselves

As Kenyans start asking questions about:

‪#MpeketoniAttack‪

#Mandera

#AlShabaab

#Gikombablast

‪#EastleighBlast

#WestGateattacks

Find Solutions to: 

#Poor governance   #Healthcare   #Unemployment

#Lack of security  #Corruption  #Poverty

#Education  #Elephant poaching  #Standards of living

#Rule of law  #Pollution

 

We are responsible for the destiny of our country  

 Let us stop being played by the government and our leaders

Let us agree to make Kenya great country

Kenya Ni Yetu 

#IamKenyan

Disclaimer: we could not get people from all 42 tribes and or represent all the communities that live in Kenya but you get the point!

A big than you to all my friends who helped with the project behind the scenes 😉 

Thank you Afrika Fusion for letting us use your resturant

My Kenyan ID Saga


By Anonymous

Date: 24 May, 2014                               Time: 1100 hours

Arriving at the Double Tree Hotel, where the Kenyan ID tour started.

Walking into the hotel, I noticed signs everywhere for an Eagle Reunion, maybe a school or some type of organization. What I did not see were any signs for “Kenyan ID”.

I tried to look in the lobby for any familiar faces carrying a large USPS envelope as a sign, but to no avail.

I was pointed in the general direction and took some stairs an elevator bank, adjacent to a computer and printer on a study desk, oddly placed I thought to myself.

I walked down the stairs and there were some familiar African faces outside the door, two men, both looking at me coming down the stairs in an uninviting way.

Looking for confirmation that I was in the right place, one of them reached for a stack of business cards and handed one to me, I thought they were numbers to be called when I walked in, but it turned out to be shitty made business cards pandering some banking/shipping service that I didn’t care for especially if they were half-ass handed like that, hand written phone number and all. “this isn’t good”, I thought to myself, and I haven’t even crossed the threshold yet.

The room looked like a Kenyan wedding reception had been set up with a high table and five or so rows of tables on the bride and grooms side.

The high table had five government officials; three sitting sifting through half-filled paperwork, and after watching the exchanges it turned out almost everyone had not filled out the paperwork correctly, or even brought the correct support paperwork, gods forbid you didn’t bring a return envelope which cost you another thirty dollars on top of the application fee, ID fee, photos, gas and headache this was turning out be an expensive and discouraging venture. All before my turn came up.

I walked in and sat down, seconds later I was told there is a sign-in sheet at the high table.

I walked up and queued as we Kenyans are used to. One of the two officials came to me asking me to sign the blank printer paper handed to me.

I did and she proceeded to ask me if I had my paperwork, I affirmed that I had my passport, copy of birth certificate and pictures that ended up being cropped more than it should have to what may end up being just a black blob on the ID card with a smile as the only identifying feature.

She then proceeded ask, “Do you have a copy of your parents ID card or passport? “No” I said, “we need that”, and in a diplomatic tone, she continued “unaweza pigia mama na baba simu, ama email them to send you a copy. You know we are here kesho and you can come and do it then” she finished.

I thought to myself, “shit, you are kidding me?”, and followed with “so can we start the process and I can come with the supporting paperwork later”, the resounding answer was “No” and I soon figured out why.

Turns out I also needed a copy of my passport not just a passport, the embassy was lacking in their information. No wonder everyone seemed to fall short, and need more than one trip to correct these issues.

I needed my parents ID and also a miracle apparently. I had vowed that come what may, I was going to get this ID one way or another.

A thought occurred to me “what if my parents were not alive?” I’d be screwed, but they are still alive, now I just have to find them hoping by some miracle they have their Kenyan paperwork handy to send.

After multiple phone calls I did get my mother who by chance had a scanned copy of her Kenyan ID, mama emailed to me. I headed up the stairs to that computer and printed the paperwork.

On a mission I walked back into the room re-signed up again, and when I was nodded to come up I was asked “si ulikuwa unarudi kesho?” to which I replied “ndio, lakini nilipata kila kitu”.

I presented my pre-filled paperwork and a receipt for my money order. Then after 15 minutes or more my paperwork started being transcribed again on an official manilla looking government paper from gods know where.

I then refilled the same form I was asked to fill initially, why it has to be filled twice I still have no clue.

And it did not stop there, I was grilled about where I came from. It’s two thousand fourteen and I had to fill each and every line whether it applied to me, these included: Tribe, clan, family, home district, division, constituency, location, sub-location, village/estate.

I am 32 years old and I know where I lived was not in an estate, and per the officials I had to write “something and fill it out, ‘n/a’ will not be accepted”.

Before myself I saw many argue the point of all these things applying to you even if you lived in an area that did not have all that.

Those same people were rejected and had to find a way around it. Apparently I now will have some redundancies since in my eyes, my district etcetera wasn’t that broken down as the days before independence, when my kinfolk lived in villages.

What happens if you were born and lived in Nairobi before coming to the US, or just by virtue of being born in Kenya you are a citizen but have not spent time in Kenya?

Later the finger printing started with everything being done traditionally, ink was poured on a pad, a roller introduced to said pad, then all my fingers were inked and rolled onto the papers. Two sets of prints with more than five thumbprints for good measure.

Why is this process still on paper and prints manual?

I am very sure if you have the capability to issue new ID cards using a magical tool such as a computer, the government can invest and collect said information electronically, even better yet use a biometric scanner all hooked up to a computer database.

The men at the front door with hand written card surely have more computing power than the Kenyan government if they are to bank or ship anything, then again it was a poorly made business card. Only in Kenya….in America…in Kenyamerica.

Date: 24 May, 2014                               Time: 1100 hours

By Guest blogger

In pictures: Kenya Diaspora Advisory Council of Texas Annual Family Easter Picnic 2014


**Random pictures from my phone only**
Taste of Kenya

Taste of Kenya Competition

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😉

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“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.”

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“Children do not constitute anyone’s property: they are neither the property of their parents nor even of society. They belong only to their own future freedom.”

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Laugh as much as you breath and also take time to reflect on your thoughts.

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Kids dancing at the KDAC picninc

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Kids dancing at the KDAC picninc

The Struggles of a Young Kenyan Boy


Written by *Anonymous

Lying in a tool shed, in 100 degree Texas heat, I started contemplating whether I should turn myself in to the police, and maybe they could make arrangements to send me back to Kenya.

I had lived in Dallas Texas, for six months, and by May 2010, I was alone.

I arrived in Dallas in January 2010, on a student visa, and I was ready to experience the wonders of America. My relatives who lived in Dallas took me to visit a few malls, restaurants and nightclubs. I knew I had truly made it to the land of milk and honey.

Little did I know that the milk would soon turn sour and the honey bitter as my life in America took a turn for the worse.

January 19, was my first day at the University I had enrolled in. It was beautiful and bigger than I had imagined. I was two weeks late, and the semester had started, so I had to play catch up and in no time I got into the flow of things or at least that is what I thought.

Within the first few days of school it became clear that I couldn’t stay with my relatives, the drive to school was too far for them, so they found student apartments near the school which became my first apartment.

My first apartment

Little did I know that I would share an apartment with students who indulged in smoking cannabis. In addition, the apartment was filthy odor abound, cleaning up was not on the list of their priorities. I spent most of my time in my room. The cost of living at the apartment began to put a strain on my finances. I didn’t have a job, and my parents could not afford to send money to me on a regular basis.

The next issue I had to deal with was transportation to school. I had to depend on the school bus which proved to be unreliable as I still had to walk a few miles to make it to school on time. I later bought a bicycle in the hope that it would make my daily commute easer, but with the cold weather I often found myself shivering and drenched in sweat when I got to school

Failing my classes

March 2010, I received an email from the school administration informing me that I was failing my classes. This came as a surprise to me as I had attended every class and did all the work assigned. It was then I learnt about something called “blackboard.” It is an online tool that teachers use to give students homework and assign discussion topics. Once again I found myself playing catch up so that I could improve my grade.

I was homesick

I missed my friends back in Kenya, and home cooked meals. I wasn’t a good cook, so I often found myself eating fast food until it became too expensive.

I hated my life in America, my accent made it difficult for me to make friends at school. The handful of Kenyans I knew where to busy with their lives and I was nothing but a mere inconvenience to them. I often found myself sitting in my room, lost in my thoughts feeling sad and depressed.

May 2010, I received an eviction notice; I was a month behind on my rent. I was broke and my parents weren’t able to send money to me as they were under the impression that I should have been able to get a job. They didn’t understand that getting a job as an international student, on or off campus, was harder than most people imagined.

I tried to reach out my relatives that lived in Texas, but after many unanswered phone calls and emails I realized I was all alone.


The Tool Shed

The tool shed 

On a hot summer day, with my a few belonging, I took shelter in the apartment complex tool shed storage.

The heat was excruciating, it was at least 100 degrees outside, and I spent the night in my boxer shorts unable to sleep contemplating my next move.

With a gallon of water and a can of beans, I spent the longest three nights in the tool shed.

I was lucky to find some friends who let me live with them for a few months, until I was able to get back on my feet

To be honest, it was the help of strangers who later became my friends that I was able overcome the obstacles I had encountered.

My American dream was that I would go to school, find a job and enjoy my life. But the reality of it is that I am lucky to get more than five hours of sleep a night.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know it couldn’t get any worse than the summer of 2010.

*Anonymous used to protect the identity of the storyteller

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