By Martha Sunda - Executive Director, Childline Kenya
The joy of making a difference in one child’s life gives us the energy to face another day more confident that it is possible to STOP child abuse. Childline Kenya in its quest to Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya solders on until this dream becomes a reality. In the past three months we have responded to many children some of whom are violated while some are struggling with other relational matters. Lenny is a 15-year-old boy who struggled to find his place in his family. Here is his story.
Lenny called the helpline in Kenya reporting a strained parent/child relationship. He is a grade 9 student in a nearby Secondary school who lives with his parents and his 4 sisters. Lenny had run away from home because he felt that his parents treated him differently from his sisters. He believed this was because he might not be their biological child. Whenever he made a small mistake they would shout at him and beat him up. He said it was unfair because he did not see the same things being done to his sisters. He started building the ideology that he did not belong in that family. He therefore wanted the helpline team to assist him to trace and reunite with his biological parents. This was a very emotional session as Lenny kept breaking down severally and crying uncontrollably. It had been one week since he ran away from home and was staying with friends at a neighbouring town. The Helpline team worked with the relevant authorities and Lenny was brought back home. His family was elated to see him especially because, after a week, they had started losing hope of ever seeing him alive.
We facilitated a session for Lenny and his parents to air out their differences and start sorting out the concerns. Lenny narrated how their behavior made him feel and said that he wanted to belong to a family where he felt loved and appreciated. His parents confirmed that Lenny was indeed their biological son. Their first born child. They showed him documents relating to his birth to confirm that he was indeed their child. Being the first child and an only son the parents wanted to instill discipline in him to be a good role model to his sisters. They wanted to see him more responsible for the same of his future. Their love for him was deep.
We took the opportunity to provide tips to the parents on some of the ways to still meet their discipline and responsibility goal without crushing the person of their child. They apologized for their behavior and together agreed how to handle things better in future.
At the end of February 2021, Lenny confirmed that things had changed for the better at home. His parents also expressed their happiness at the way he had improved in his behavior. Their relationship seemed to be heading in the right direction. It was agreed that both parties will continue being deliberate about building a healthy relationship. They are free to reach out to the Helpline anytime they need support through the process.
The Helpline counsellors remain available 24/7 every day of the year. This is made possible by the great support of our partners including the GlobalGiving community. From the bottom of our hearts we say “Thank You”. You are welcome to keep supporting us whenever you can. One child’s life turned around for the better, makes the whole difference.
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