My name is Peter and the story I want to tell you cannot be found in any book. This is a story that I have never told anyone, until now. The story I want to tell you is about my life.
Both my parents are from the Kamba community in the Eastern part Kenya. They were born in the outskirts of Kitui town before our grandparents moved to the Recent Settlement. My dad was a clerk and gradually he got promoted to management level at Kenya Cereal & Produce Board in Mombasa. He was not only the breadwinner for his immediate family but the extended family too. My father used to make a decent salary so the family was comfortable and 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 cozy and a good life before my parents passed away. As the last born, I never got to enjoy this kind of luxury because my parents passed on soon after I was born. My dad went to be with the Lord on 24th October 1995, shortly before I was born and later my mum, on 20th May 1998, 2 years later; therefore I don’t have any memories of my parents, I just see them in family photos.
After the sudden demise of our parents, at a tender age of two and my sisters were not much older, suddenly the relative who used to benefit from my father’s salary disappeared one by one leaving us destitute. We had no one to look up to. We were abandoned even by distant family members leaving us under the mercy of our elderly and sickly grandmother. Our lives changed drastically from having much 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.
School fees were a huge problem and I remember we skipped many school days due to lack of fees. Fortunately in the year 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 no longer required school fees to attend school. However, we quickly realized that despite the great gift of free education, one cannot learn on an empty stomach. Our grandmother was trying to support us but with her advanced age and failing health she was also destitute. She tried to reach out to her children to assist but they would hear none of it. Each suggested that she seeks assistance from the next until she realized no one was willing to assist. Soon enough the cupboard dried and there were no supplies to replenish. The hunger pangs started biting seriously. We used to cry when we were hungry but since nothing was forthcoming we started going to our neighbours houses to beg for food. Sometimes they would give us a little, but since they also did not have much it was impossible to keep assisting. Our grandmother suggested that we accompany her to fetch firewood in the forest and sell. The forest was far and the walking alone was taking a toll on our sickly grandmother. So this means of earning a living became impossible because we also could not go on our own because we were still small. We were now staring at death due to lack of food. At this time attending school was now a distant memory because a lot of time had gone by since we attended classes. Whenever we met with the children we used to go to school with, some would laugh at us because we were unkempt and frail. One day my grandmother suggested that we seek employment from our neighbors 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. Now this became our life. It was very difficult watching other children our age going to school.
February 2009 will remain special in my memory because this is the month that marked the turnaround of our lives. A social worker from Nyumbani Village walked through the entrance and announced that she 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 knew 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 recognized the social worker who was in the company of other people. They informed us that they had come to rescue us and take us to our new home in Nyumbani Village where would have food and we would attend school. We were overjoyed when they hauled our belongings into the lorry. To our great 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 for a new beginning, a home far from home.
We came to Nyumbani Village in April 2009, by then I was thirteen years old. We even brought our grandmother. The social worker, assisted by a volunteer social worker from Spain called Angie-de Hoyos assisted us to settle in. I remember our first time in the Village, the joy we felt and way the children at Nyumbani Village received us happily. Well, it is usually a culture 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 without having to labour for it. As we hungrily obliterated our delicious meal we did catch up with other children, narrating our stories and enjoying the new environment. We were happy to find a new family.
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 managed to go back to school and get quality education. This was a dream come true especially based on my poor background. They gave me a chance to dream of a bright future in spite of what I had been through. I know that I would not have received the education and support that my siblings and I received at Nyumbani Village if it were not for the funding from Global Giving.
I am very happy to report that today as I pursue a degree in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), my heartfelt gratitude goes to all of you, supporter of Global Giving for bringing me thus far. I am a champion because of the funding you have availed to help children like myself. I know that I would not be where I am today without your helping hand.
I have a future full of hope of being a successful, business person particularly in the field of ICT and finally own a home. I believe with what has been offered to me has made me a better person who will benefit the society at large. It is my hope that I will be able to give back someday to a destitute child/children because I know that I would not be here without the help I received. Truly, the Lord bestows favor and honor through you, His people.