How an Encounter with street Urchins Changed Everything

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Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory’

                                                                                                                         Dr. Suess

Anchoring or focalism is a term used in psychology to describe the common human tendency to  “anchor,” or rely too heavily on one trait or piece of information when making decisions. During normal decision making, individuals anchor, or overly rely, on specific information. Then adjust to that value to account for other elements of the circumstance.

Well that’s what science daily says, which is entirely true. So much so, it’s usually an unconscious act, you never really realize that you anchor a lot of stuff. I never realized until today that I have an anchored moment that I’ve always wanted to share. I always think about it when I’m faced with some seemingly existential crisis.

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The Encounter with the Street Urchins

On one of my funk-ed up days, I was leaving for work and everything was on my mind. Even the trash that I hadn’t taken out on a trash day! I felt like the universe was conspiring against me, and I was mumbling under my breath (I do that sometimes). In the near distance, I could see two street kids distinctly approaching me. They were crossing the road to come to me. Wrong day friends, wrong day.

One of them smiled at me and said, ‘Excuse me beautiful, please could you give us 20 bob’

That opening line!!! Why did they say I’m beautiful? Why? They had me hook, line and sinker. He was such a confident kid probably 7 plus he was smiling ear to ear and he called me beautiful!! That’s the way to greet a lady, confidence and flattery. My mood was chirpier. I asked them what they would be using the 20 shilling to do.

‘To buy sweets’ they replied in such obvious tone, they almost made me feel silly asking. These kids were so adorable. I decided that I’d accompany them to the shop to ensure that they were buying what they stated. As we walked to the nearest kiosk, we shared the most amusing conversation

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So why aren’t the two of you at school?’

‘Our parents haven’t paid the retention fees, so we can’t go to class’ The older brother said

‘But it’s so early in the morning, where are you off to?’

‘To see the planes take off (at Wilson airport), that’s the best part of my day. I’m going to be a pilot when I grow up’

‘Me too’ chimed the younger one.

Thoroughly impressed I asked, ‘Do you go there every day?’

‘Yes, we walk from our home (which happens to be in Kibera). In order to watch the planes then we walk back home begging.’

‘We have to help our parents.’ said the younger. Clearly making sure that he was not left out of the conversation.

‘But we won’t beg for long when I’m a pilot things will be better’ said the older one.

At this point, I was literally battling with my tears, telling myself that my mama didn’t raise a cry baby. The conversation continued for quite some time. They even walked me to the stage. After I bought them something to eat at the kiosk. True gentlemen indeed.


I always appreciate that moment, no matter how skewed the kids’ dreams seemed. He was so sure about himself. He even had a plan to become a pilot and from what I gathered he was following it.

Chase your dreams, even in the dimmest of moments you can see clearly what the end goal is. When you have nothing but you know that somehow you’re going to come out of your situation a champion, that’s the spirit of a true winner. Sometimes that’s all you need, to tell yourself that your only option is to succeed. And you know what, I think that someday that little boy will indeed be a pilot, there was too much life in him for life not to return the favour.

“They would think she was savouring the taste (blueberries, cinnamon, cream-excellent), but she was actually savouring the whole morning, trying to catch it, pin it down, keep it safe before all those precious moments became yet another memory.”

Liane Moriarty

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