We thought we would tell you about some of the children we are working with; their stories, and how they ended up on the streets. We have, of course, given them different names to protect their identities, and out of respect for them as individuals.
Mugaka is barely 11 years old and has not been on the streets for very long. He ran away from his home in Kisii within south Nyanza region that is 150km away from Nakuru (that’s a long way from home). He left his home as he was overworked. Children in Kenya work very hard, and sometimes this is too much to bear. He also felt very threatened at home. Currently, he feels scared by all the new faces he sees in this new bigger town and the horrifying stories he has heard about what bigger street boys do to the young boys (he should be scared – they are not making it up). The price of freedom comes at a cost, and although he enjoys his new found freedom on the streets of Nakuru, his desire is to be reunited with his sibling that he greatly misses.
John is 13 years old. He took to the streets after his alcoholic mother used to severely punish him. He was physically hurt and at times the mother even used a knife when she was drunk. John is very afraid about his future. He does not like spending cold nights on verandahs but vows never to go back home. It must be bad if a cold verandah is better than home!!
Moha is 14 years old. He has been on the streets for two years. His parents separated and later his mother remarried. Moha’s “new dad” was not kind to him and therefore Moha did not get on well with him. For that reason he feels that his mother betrayed him (anyone who has come from a home where parents have split up will recognize that feeling). Whenever Moha asked his mother about his first dad he was punished and for that reason he felt unwanted at a place he called home. Moha left and turned to the streets for the comfort he was looking for, a place that he now calls home.
Robart is 14 years old. Robart left home 2 years ago after a severe beating from his uncle. The beating was after he stole some money from a neighbor. He admits that he even used to steal from his home, something that he feels guilty about. He still does it now on the streets, he say he feels guilty about it just as it was at home. He wishes to apologize for his actions but he is afraid that he could be lynched. He is afraid of mob justice. How scary to think that he must steal to survive, but fears being beaten for doing so. Robart wishes greatly to live a different positive life in days to come. Let’s hope he will!
Josh is 16 years old. Josh’s mother left home long time ago when he and his siblings were still very young. He doesn’t remember her now. Josh and his siblings were left under the care of their alcoholic dad and life was really difficult. They used to live in a single rented room. A year ago, Josh’ father could not pay for the house rent and they were evicted from their home. Everyone went different ways and Josh ended up on the streets of Nakuru. He does not know the whereabouts of either his siblings or his dad.
Babu is 14 years old. At a tender age, Babu’s mother left him with his grandmother to take care of him. At the age when he should have started school, the grandmother did not take him and instead looked for a casual job for him. The grandmother used to take all the money Babu worked for. This became a source of conflict between the two of them. As the situation worsened, Babu felt disturbed with his mother gone. He opted to go to the streets. Few days later Babu was arrested by the police and taken to a cell. His grandmother came to visit him, and instead of bailing him out, the grandmother told him that is where he belonged – in a cell and left. How lost and alone he must have felt. Having no family to identify with, Babu ended up to the streets.
Muraya is 16 years old. Muraya is a relatively tall boy. He lost his dad at a tender age and was left with his elder brother and mother. Later his mother sold all the family land and sent them to live with other relatives. Muraya and his brother were badly treated by the relatives. At one time, while living at their uncle’s place, they both decided to leave. Each of them went their own way. Today Muraya does not know where his brother is and feels very sad about it. He is extremely afraid of the police because, whenever they arrest him for loitering, he is treated like an adult offender. They mistake his age before they confirm he is a minor. This may include beatings, and being place with adult offenders (very scary when you are only 16).