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My Dad’s note that gave meaning to my day today’s life.

21 Aug

On the day I left home to go to the city to look for a job 15 yrs ago, I had no certificates or any recommendation.I had never been employed outside the family businesses. The only tool of trade that could help me get a job was my one year old driving license. My dad called me and asked me if i was ready to face the world on my own and i remember very well that i confidently told him i was ready to joining the matatu industry. That evening he gave me an envelop with 3000 Ksh rent. For my new-house and this message;“Everything depends on God’s Grace; To get His grace, Whatever Work You Perform, Do it with sincerity and Earnest Longing. Through His Grace, environment will be favorable and conditions for realizing your dreams will be perfect.” That was then.

Being a matatu driver and a blogger has opened a whole new world for Wambururu; A few years ago, I never could have thought I would ever set foot in places i have visited on official invitations and met people I’ve met.My blog has of late started to compete in earnings with my driver’s job and this is good news i would wish to share with all of you who read of this blog. It is quite an interesting way of making a living especially for somebody who was used to sitting behind the wheels of a public service vehicle for 15 hours to make 10 dollars, now turned to a FIXER.

I got this title -FIXER- from an American photo journalist who had contacted me to help him find the perfect locations for a story he was working on. The deal was that I will take him wherever he wanted to go in his research and he would compensate me fully for the time i could have alternatively be sitting behind the steering of my matatu. He told me that people who do that for foreign journalists are called Fixers. And a fixer i became.

We started our trail to find out what happens to electronics in Kenya and especially Nairobi once they are no longer useful. The code name of the project was “e-Waste” We started off at Dadora dump site as we had been directed by a report from a UN agency.- {the only available current data in the internet, about ewaste: last updated in 2009.} The report and also a section of the media report, had warned that the electronic waste was becoming a healthy hazard to citizens living near the dump-site; as some of the components used to make computers are a big risk and can even cause diseases like cancer.

A lot must have changed since the time the report was posted, as by the time we got there, there was not a single electronic item in the dump-site.With that in mind, my contract with the photo journalist would have to be extended if ever he was to know the truth. What we were looking for was not in the dump-site. Those we asked told us that such items do not end up in the dump and even the ones that do get there are instantly collected and resold to buyers who camp at the site buying anything with value.

My American friend could not believe that he had followed a not so accurate data about the health hazard in Kenya, said to be caused by ewaste. To get the facts collect, we tracked down one of the Garbage tracks and organized for him to ride in the track the whole day as it did it’s round and follow the trash all the way to the dump-site. It was a smelly ride and also an eye opener for the ewaste research. He discovered that- garbage collectors have one or two of their own, who’s main job is to go through all the trash that is loaded in the track and sort out any resell-able item like, Metals, plastic, electronics etc.before they dump at Dadora. With nothing from the main dump-site, we had to come up with another approach. For the whole time he rode in the track, he did not see a single electronic waste. This could only mean one thing, nobody was throwing away the items.

The next step was to trace where most of the waste could be generating from and find out what happens between the trash bin and the dump-site. The most obvious place to start would be the repair shops  who have the final word on the fate of any electronic device. We started in the CBD and went all the way to River Road- We stop at many repair shops and all those we asked told us that there are collectors who come to their workshops and buy the stuff. Mobile phone’s and computer’s “mother boards” were the most sort after of all electronics as they fetched good prices.

A visit to National Environment Management Authority did not yield much as the institution is only mandated with registration and issuance of licenses to waste collectors. As we tracked the ewaste from the dump-site through repair shops, we ended up in go-downs in Ngala and Baba Ndogo in Nairobi upper industrial Area- we came across fully established big companies with foreign expertise and employees, modern offices dealing in exporting the electronics waste out of the country. The contract lasted a couple of days and when he was satisfied, he flew back to his country and left a very happy fixer.

This was not the first time i was offering my services to journalist; although previously, i did not get any money from them; if anything, I had to spend my own cash for transport and meals as we worked on television and newspaper stories. I have previewed articles, books, assisted in editing documentaries and arranged transportation for cast and crew to filming locations among other tasks.. My helping hand, I have taught me many drills when it comes to film production. Also through the blog i have been contacted to arrange and offer transportation for International journalists, researchers, university students from across the world and local learning institutions. I have had my 5 minutes of fame in a local popular  television Drama “papa shiradula” My writing and documentaries have been used by teachers and students in Sweden and Moscow. and a short film about my career as a matatu driver is currently competing at the Guinness film festival in France.

The events of my life and career has left most of my friends in the matatu industry wondering, surprised, and questioning my intentions. Also IT experts are advising me on publishing my popular blog on my own domain- web-site. I hear that i might be making some few extra coins from GOOGLE. That is also good news. When i think about all that has happened and what is happening today, i can only thank my dad for the words he share with me that have come to pass in my own life.

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