Kenya is a sweet place to live in. Kenya is on another level of beauty, peace and harmony, but for selected people. Tell a street family of the beauty in Kenya, tell them of peace, tell them of harmony, whisper into their ears that we are in a land full of opportunities and hope and you will barely see cracks of their craniums. You will see those thick veins pumping in anger reminiscent of their pain and daily struggles.
Ann and Joyce are cousins. They both live in the streets with a 3 month old baby. Their story unfolds into bits of sadness and tears.
Joyce was only a baby when her mother left her in tha care of her aunty! Joyce’s mother was a second wife to Joyce’s father. The other wife, who had no female children became jealous of Joyce’s mother. When she was born, she plotted to kill her. The mother, in desperation, fled and left her daughter (Joyce) in the care of her sister, (Joyce’s auntie). Joyce has lived there all her life. She has never met her father nor mother, she has heard stories of the possibility of having two older brothers. She has a deep longing to be re-united with her family, but no one knows of their whereabouts. She says that she prays everyday that one day she will be get the chance to meet them. She is from Tigoni – Kinangop but she was raised up here in Nairobi most of her life, at her auntie’s place.
Ann is Joyce’s cousin. They live together in the streets. Ann is a mother of a 3 month old baby (Joseph Macharia). She was born and raised at Nakuru by her ailing parents. His father passed away shortly after she was born. She knows her mother and was raised by a mean stepfather. Two years ago, her stepfather and her mother separated. Apparently the stepfather had 5 wives, Ann’s mother being the 5th. The stepfather left disowning Ann and her two baby sisters. It was this that Ann was forced to do odd jobs to support the family, but her little earnings barely sustained them. Ann’s mother is still ailing. She is also illiterate, so she struggles to support her children. Ann eventually got married at an early age of 15 years due to extreme poverty. To her, that seemed like a breakthrough so as to support her family. The little money she would acquire from her husband would take care of her mother and younger sisters. Things were at least better, or so it seemed, at least they could now afford to eat and dress not until Ann got pregnant and the husband started telling her to abort the child. She refused, and the once loving husband started breathing rage and fury. He became very violent and even threatened to stab her. She says that he wanted to stab her in her sleep one day but she woke up, ran away and never looked back again. She used the money she had to come to Nairobi to hustle for her family! She was 4 months pregnant by then. She went to live with Joyce at her auntie’s place and that’s how the two cousins met and become close friends.
It wasn’t until recently that their auntie’s husband, their uncle, who’s a marijuana addict started to make sexual advances at Joyce. Joyce, a born again Christian declined his advances. Ann would often come to Joyce’s rescue when the uncle would try to rape her. By this time, Ann had already given birth to baby Joseph Macharia, now 3 months old! The two girls were forced to flee from their uncle’s place and that’s how they ended up on the streets.
They say that it’s by God’s grace that they are still alive, they face the threat of injury and the Grim Reapers scythe on the streets. Life is also a bitter pill as they struggle with their small child. Women who want to induct them to prostitution also become bitter when they decline their offer and even threaten to stab them with broken bottles or strike them dead on their heads in their sleep with big stones. Street boys also threaten them when they refuse their advances and even try to strip them naked. They narrate that they even rape them sometimes.
Words can’t describe the hell they are going through in the streets. Words can’t describe what the ever crying 3 month old baby is going through, bracing a nights cold and hunger. Most of us got a decent or rather a supportive childhood but this young small kid has to undergo all this as circumstances forced.
Two charity groups run by young men not as well-up in life as you would think but they have hearts bolder than a gladiator’s. They are pushed by their will. The pain they see arouses the call to action in their hearts. The ‘Something must be done!’ Statement raves through them. One Kennedy Obiero of @shareloveafrica and Reggie from #StreetShepherd work to the extremes to do something however little. I don’t know their past and I cannot explain what is this that drives them.
This morning Reggie sent this.
“Hey guys, goodmornin! I hope you are all well and blessed this mornin! So yesterday I went to visit Joyce and Ann as usual! They had called me earlier with a phone they borrow from a security guard friend of theirs and told me City Council were chasing them away! I got to them at around 8pm on Biashara Street where they normally sleep! I found a lady there who had brought tha whole group of street families who sleep there clothes! But there was scandal goin about some romance between a certain street boy and girl gone sour! Tha boy, who appeared to be under tha influence of drugs, had a stick in his hands and was throwin stones at everybody! Ann told me that at one time he almost hit Joyce with one! This had me all tha more concerned about tha babies safety! It took a security guard and other people to calm that guy down and later on he was forced to leave! But what shocked tha most wasn’t this, it was what Ann and Joyce told me after I sat down with them to ask how their day had been! That’s when they told me that City Council had been on an operation to rid tha city of any street child or family! Apparently they bombard them, put them in a lorry then dump them somewhere, anywhere, away from Nairobi town! They dump them even as far as Bungoma, Western and in Nairobi area, places like Kayole or Dandora near tha Mukuru dumpsite! What was even more. saddenin is tha reason all this is happenin! Apparently this is being done prior to tha arrival of tha Pope in tha country, so that government can perhaps maintain a good image of tha city ( ‘in tha sun’, as they call it ). Joyce and Ann with their baby spent most of tha day yesterday hungry and cold and on tha run! It has been raining so much recently, and this makes life all tha more difficult for them!”
Here are Reggie’s amateur phone pictures
I have a troubling question, aren’t these street families citizens? Citizens dumped by their own country? Citizens that have seen the wrath of greed and race to the poll? People who had a brilliant life like mine but now cut short by the edge of the spear of the blade of the machete? Were they this dirty, poor and hungry years back? Were they struggling with life as they now do? Sleeping on boxes covering themselves with sacks? Yawning their day off into another day of hunger and pain?
You walk every morning and a tear drops to your stomach. You find a group of young street children yawning. You will see mounts of people sleeping on the streets twitching in tire and cold. There has been an influx. They have their own cartels. Bad cartels that the good ones have to avoid. There is the Komesha for example whose aim is to rob, rape and murder fellow street families.
It may seem weird that these two groups are trying to raise 4,000. 3,000 for the girls’ two month’s rent and 1,000 for them to start a banana sale business. They want to keep the small kid off the streets. They feel that the small kid doesn’t deserve this. The group are also calling on those with matresses they don’t use, second hand clothes, old cooking stoves, shopping etc. They will pick it from wherever you are.
It is not simple to just care for someone you never knew but some of us have the love. It is when you mingle with people like these that you get challenged. Love one another for this is the greatest gift. It is hard for me to love my best friend leave alone someone I had no clue they existed.
Support these guys. You can just call them and praise them for the good work they are doing. Pray for them. Try and help and with this. We will make Kenya and the world a better place. Many ills have been said upon us, let’s prove to the world that we are not what they say we are. Remember, what they see about us is not important but if that mirror were to be placed in front of you, what would you see? Would you see self-gain, greed and hatred? I looked at my mirror and saw a selfish person and I prayed and worked about that. Pull your mirror and look at it, what do you see? What do you want to see? That is all what that counts!
Kennedy Obiero – +254726363733
Reggie Street Shepherd – +254702775369