My name is Peter. I want to tell you a story that I have never told anyone until now. The story I want to tell you is about my life. My dad was a clerk and gradually he got promoted to management level at Kenya Cereal & Produce Board in Mombasa. He was the breadwinner for both his immediate family and the extended family. My father used to make a decent salary, so the family was very comfortable. My mum was a happy housewife and a farmer in the village. I am the last born in my family and the only boy.
My three sisters, Jackeline, Rhoda, and Gladys, enjoyed a cosy and a good life before my parents passed away. As the last born, I never got to enjoy this kind of luxury. My dad died shortly before I was born and my mum died two years later, so I don’t have any memories of my parents. I just see them in family photos. The relatives who my father supported when he was alive all disappeared one by one when my parents died. We were abandoned even by distant family members, leaving us with our elderly and sickly grandmother. Our lives changed drastically from having plenty to barely surviving. The world presented itself with those huge claws of poverty, abandonment, desertion and hatred by your own people. Everybody seemed to be running away from us.
“Through Nyumbani Village I was able to return to school. They gave me a chance to dream of a bright future in spite of what I had been through”
School fees were a huge problem and I remember we skipped many school days due to lack of fees. Fortunately, in 2003 when former President Mwai Kibaki was elected, his first agenda was to offer free primary education in all government schools. This was a big break for us because it meant that we were no longer required to pay school fees to attend school. However, we quickly realised that despite the great gift of free education, one cannot learn on an empty stomach. Our grandma was trying to support us but with her advanced age and failing health she was also destitute. She reached out to her children for help but they would hear none of it. Each suggested that she seek assistance from the next until she realised no one was willing to help. Soon enough the cupboard was bare and there were no supplies to replenish. The hunger pangs started biting. We used to cry when we were hungry but since nothing was forthcoming, we started going to our neighbours for food. Sometimes they would give us a little, but since they too did not have much it was impossible to keep helping us.
Our grandmother suggested that we accompany her to fetch firewood in the forest and sell it. The forest was far and the long walk was taking a toll on our sickly grandmother. This means of earning a living became impossible because we were too small to travel to the forest on our own and our grandmother was too sickly to come with us. We were now staring at death due to lack of food.
“Whenever we met with the children who we used to go to school with, some would laugh at us because we were unkempt and frail”
By this time attending school was a distant memory because a lot of time had gone by since we attended classes. Whenever we met other children, some would laugh at us because we were unkempt and frail. One day my grandmother suggested that we seek employment from our neighbours to do farming. Even though we did not know much, we convinced them that we were hungry and we were willing to do anything to get some food in our stomachs. Some people were kind and gave us some light duties. They also gave us food and a few shillings. This enabled us to have food to eat and feed our grandmother who at the time was not doing well. This became our life. It was very difficult to watch other children our age going to school. February 2009 will remain special in my memory because this was the month that marked the turning point of our lives.
A social worker from Nyumbani Village had been informed about our plight by a member of the community. She was moved when she saw us struggling to make ends meet and at the same time looking after our grandmother. She did not stay for long because I think our struggles, pain and suffering were very visible. She asked us a few questions and promised to help us. We did not believe that she would be back because many people before her had promised to help, especially during our parents’ funeral, but they all disappeared. However, we were very happy with her visit because she brought us some food. That meant we would be okay for a few days at the very least. After a month had gone by, we believed that she was never going to return. But one fine afternoon in April we were pleasantly surprised when a lorry drove into our compound. We immediately recognised the social worker who was with a few other people. They informed us that they had come to rescue us and take us to our new home in Nyumbani Village where we would have food and we could attend school. We were overjoyed when they hauled our belongings into the lorry. To our surprise some relatives who had abandoned us, on hearing this news came to intervene and said that we could not go to Nyumbani Village. There was a bit of drama as they tried to resist but my siblings and I were already settled inside the car, ready for our journey to the unknown. We told them we had suffered enough and we didn't care where we were being taken as long as we would have food and education because we desperately needed help. Our minds were set on a new beginning, a home far from home.
We came to Nyumbani Village in April 2009, by then I was 13 years old. We even brought our grandma. The social worker, assisted by a volunteer social worker from Spain, helped us to settle in. I remember our first time in the Village, the joy we felt and the way the children at Nyumbani Village received us happily. Well, it is customary for the children to welcome visitors and ensure that they feel at home. The grandmothers residing at the Village broke into dance and ululations upon our arrival into our new home. You can imagine how it felt when dinner was served. It felt like we had died and gone to heaven and the angels were serving us. As we hungrily obliterated our delicious meal, we shared our life stories with the other children, learning about each other and enjoying the new environment. We were happy to find a new family.
"Today as I pursue a degree in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), my heart felt gratitude goes to all the generous donors who helped bring me this far.”
At Nyumbani Village, I learned to be independent, cook and do my own laundry. Being brought up at the Village has contributed so much to the person I am today. I am independent, respectful of others and a good role model. Through Nyumbani Village, I was able to return to school and get a quality education. This was a dream come true, especially given my background. They gave me a chance to dream of a bright future in spite of what I had been through. Today as I pursue a degree in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), my heart felt gratitude goes to all the generous donors who helped bring me this far. I am a champion because of the funding you have donated to help children like me. I know that I would not be where I am today without your helping hand. I have a future full of hope. My goal is to become a successful business person, particularly in the field of ICT, and finally own a home of my own. I believe that what has been offered to me has made me a better person who will benefit society at large.