Meet the Soldier Who Is Dismantling Stereotypes About Men in Uniform
Patrick Juma is not your stereotypical man in uniform. When he is not serving his country as a soldier, he is writing poems and fictional stories based on his personal life. His series of works is titled, The Diary of a Lost Soldier.
The 21-year old, has in many instances, risen to prove wrong the axiom that men and women in uniform lack compassion. Recently, he was captured in photographs feeding a street child, and then later palming out the same unspoken kindness to a homeless woman out in the streets of Nairobi.
“I grew up wishing to be a soldier, a desire that was influenced by Richard Connell’s film, Deadly Prey“, Patrick says.
However, an error on his KCSE certificate threatened to stymie his dream. The certificate identified him as Patric, whereas his national identification card read Patrick. Patrick made the decision to join the National Youth Service (NYS) before finally being allowed to enlist with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in 2019. He works under what is called the assorted or reinforcement lot. This means that in the case the army needs reinforcement, Patrick is called to Kahawa Military Barracks and charged to assist.
The young soldier is currently on an assignment with the NYS, where they are partnering with the youths of Majengo area in Kamukunji to clean up the area. They open clogged drainages and dispose of accumulated garbage that poses health risks to the members of the community. They are also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the residents use clean water, put on masks, and sanitise their hands during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It was while on this assignment that my path crossed with that of a street boy along Jogoo road. He was sniffing glue and wasn’t wearing a mask”, Patrick narrates. “As soon as the boy saw me, he ran, and I chased him, my whip in hand. When I caught up with him, he started pleading with me to spare him. This made me think twice about my next course of action. I knew I needed to handle this in a different way than I’d been taught. I assured him I wasn’t going to use the whip on him, but in the same breath asked him to explain why he wasn’t wearing a mask”.
The panic-stricken boy marshalled up the courage to move closer to Patrick, and, fumbling in the pockets of his scuzzy and worn-out trousers, pulled out a dirty, torn mask.