Breaking circle of discrimination, soaring higher than expected
Chulalongkorn University, an icon of excellence and focused education. Joining one of the best institutions in Asia and the best in Thailand was a dream coming faster than ever thought.
As a young African man growing up in a village full of destructors of development could not allow me think positively about being in an airplane to join this institution. True to my thoughts, it took me literally 32 years to believe that a young boy from a poor village has equal chance of joining thousands of people from different cultures and background both whites and blacks equally.
The unexpected mail
The most fulfilling part of my dream was when I received an email right from the toilet. Over the period, my hope was kept alive, trusting that I will soon join the most revered people in Bangkok. “Congratulations, you have been selected to join Rotary peace fellowship at Chulalongkorn University Class 28 in January 2020”.
For a period of 5 minutes I could not believe what I saw. The question remained, how could a “small boy” without good education, from poor school, a typical villager in Kenya be able to dine at the same table with the most educated? How could it be that this very boy who faced dire challenges and discrimination in schooling make it to one of the most adored universities in the world? I could not hide my tears.
“I am selected to study peace and conflict in Thailand, courtesy of Rotary international”. A warm hug from my wife covered me tightly. We both cried and thanked God for amazing things he has done.
For a whole month I kept thinking of how I will get to Bangkok. Finally, January 12th, 2020, I arrived in a beautiful city. Oh a city with beautiful culture, and welcoming people! I knew this was the best place to be.
Thanks to my kind and loving counselor, Dr. Jean who safely drove me in an expensive car fully air- conditioned. Navigating through the city and express way was very impressive, something I have never seen from my country. Tall buildings and dust free roads, this was amazing.
A dream comes true
I remember two quotes. One from Lupita Nyongo, a renowned film maker, she said. “No matter what you go through, where you come from, know that your dreams are valid”.
Second, “When you perceive it in mind, you have it” Mohammed Ali. The two quotes are my true reflection of a dream comes true.
Meeting Dr. Vitoon, Thita, Oy and the entire Rotary Peace Center team was very dear to me, with their Thai salutation “Wai” and KOP KHUN KRAB, and SAWASDEE KA. I felt home. My first, second, third and the rest of the days not only opened my eyes wider but gave me a new ideology on how I should look at and define developmental issues.
As Ms. Irene Santiago puts it, “development is the process of increasing capacities and decreasing vulnerabilities” this was a new idea for development as peace fellow.
The narrow thought disappeared and I realized that YES, I can. I can lead the world. I can lead the people. I am a great leader with great vision.
Meeting the former president of Rotary International and former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Bhichai whom for the past 60 years has remained a strong pillar and a beacon of change in the international peace building arena was amazing. His ideas, thoughts and work turned around my thoughts at 360 degrees. As he puts new paradigm on practice, “Peace is not just a piece of paper but a willing heart of trust and do what is right” this got me encouraged. His school of thought, that we can achieve peace without having many board room meeting but a simple act of forging and moving forward.
Chulalongkorn University has provided me with another thought on how women are viewed in the society. I have learnt that respect for women bring equal opportunities in development and GDP.
Language barrier was one of the most challenging things for me. Most Thai people are native Thai speakers and do not embrace English. This is crazy. Anyway, we had to lean some few words like SAWASDEE KRUB.
Condoms and Cabbages
Visiting Condom and cabbages gave me a new look at how HIV prevention has worked in Thailand, with condoms distributed openly, and most decorations done with pure architecture of condoms. I realized the creativity that impacts lives positively.
Lemon prevents Pregnancy
This was the most amazing fact under study. Lemons reduce HIV and pregnancy, by applying lemon on women’s vagina just before sex, it kills all the viruses and sperms too. Its application is very effective. This theory was one of my fulfilling knowledge quests. If this works, then we have hope for tomorrow. But until then we remain adventuring, meeting never aging Thai women. At 40 years, you mistake them to be 20 years old. Thanks, I was rescued before becoming a victim. “Asanteni sana”.
Solomon Odero – Kenya
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class28