The tragic death by suicide of Lucy Atieno Hareter in Austria must serve as a bitter lesson to Kenyans with relatives and friends in the Diaspora who they view as cash cows to be milked, cheated and lied without end and remorse.
Shortly before her suicide, Atieno reportedly called friends and the police with the following chilling and poignant words:
“Life had become difficult after her business went down,”. “She also said that she was no longer able to cater for her needs and those of some of her siblings who kept on requesting her for money back home,”
Of course we don’t have all the precise details. Every death is sorely regrettable more so that of such a young person with so much life ahead of her.
Those Kenyans with relatives and friends abroad need to understand the following.
1. Life abroad is extremely expensive and many Kenyans abroad live from hand to mouth. Take a Kenyan in London working in a job paying him or her £10 an hour. If he worked 8 hours a day for 6 days, the maximum he/she can make in a month is £1920. The UK government will take £350 by way of taxes, £50 to local government taxes, £150 to monthly transport, £500 to rent, £200 to bills and utilities and a modest £350 to food. You can see while £1920 seems like alot of money, such a Kenyan has about £300 every month left to buy plots, build, support family back in Kenya and all other demands on his/her hands. If he or she has a family abroad they will be lucky to save anything.
Surely genuine friends and family shouldn’t struggle to understand this.
2. No amount of help will ever solve ALL your problems. If you have a relative or friend abroad DON’T CREATE DEPENDENCY. One off help is great. Expecting your relative to house, feed and educate your children and start a business for you is simply IMMORAL. Helping is great but dependency is purely unnecessary liability. It is that simple. Dependency has never solved anything- not for country or individual. It doesn’t work. Unless one is ill or disabled, getting used to the free money of others is a very bad way to live.
3. Being truthful is really important. Lying and exaggerating needs is theft and robbery put together. For some strange reasons all the financial requests and needs from the diaspora by their relatives and friends in Kenya are always nice round figures…5000, 10,000, 20,000, 100,000 etc.
4. Diaspora will always buy assets such as land at very exaggerated prices. The price must of necessity include their family’s lies and those of brokers. It is pitiful that it’s those closest to you that will often screw you the hardest and without mercy.
5. Many Kenyans are abroad CHINI YA MAJI. Often without proper documentation, making it impossible to travel and re-enter these countries. They work their back off hoping to better their own, and relatives’ lives. So sad that very often, it’s those very relatives that cause them the most grief which may end tragically in death as the case of Lucy Atieno illustrates.
There is nothing fulfilling like supporting your relatives or close friends and bettering their lives by helping them to become financially independent.
What this young woman’s death teaches is that we must avoid placing undue burdens and unrealistic expectations on our relatives simply because they are abroad.
Life abroad is very tough and can be painfully lonely triggering depression. Very much so.
Regrettably, the trees from which free money used to be plucked have since withered to extinction.
In their place is hard work, blood, sweat and at times the sting of death.
May Lucy’s soul find the peace and rest thus cruel world could not give her.
By Hon. Alex Kamau
Diaspora National Assembly For 254