The future of an orphan in Kenya and elsewhere in the world is uncertain. Babies born to single mothers and those who have lost their parents due to AIDS or other serious, unfortunate diseases, face discrimination. They are likely to be rejected by society and face a hopeless future of poverty, homelessness, and abuse. Girls may be forced into bonded labour or child prostitution. Even if they survive, they lose out on education, suffer from malnutrition, and are vulnerable to disease and at risk of early death.
My parents passed away when my siblings and i were still very young. I was five when my father died and six when my mum passed on. I was still too young to understand how difficult life would be but old enough to know that our lives would never be the same again. Five young orphans stood in line to have their last family picture taken during mum’s funeral, their fate only God knew. Things changed rapidly after that with my big brother dropping out of school, my other siblings and I frequently being sent home due to lack of school fees, my poor old grandmother trying her best to provide for us. She did not have a job and neither was she strong enough to till the shamba so she ended up selling livestock and household items in the market to buy food. Most people live below the poverty level of less than one dollar a day so our extended family found it difficult to care for us. I ended up being sent to a children’s home, one of my sister’s was sent to central Kenya to live with my aunt while the rest stayed with grandma, my little brother later joined me at the home but then left to live in a boy’s home. I saw the rest of my family ten years later after completing high school.
Even though I never lacked anything at the home, emotionally I was traumatized. I felt guilty knowing that my siblings lacked basic needs. We all grew up separately and faced our own struggles but one thing that broke my heart is that we were strangers. I remember meeting my sister for the first time in ten years, standing in Nairobi town not knowing what she looked like. She was married and pregnant with her first child. She was fortunate to complete high school with the help of an uncle who paid her school fees. After high school she got a job in Nairobi but life was too hard on her own and that’s when she met her husband and decided to settle. She is now separated and raising her son single handedly .Our eldest brother stayed up country. Married with a stepson and a daughter, he does not work, he joined a gang, and was involved in crime until he witnessed one of the gang members being shot by the police while fleeing. Now he drinks and uses all types of drugs.My other sister is now a single mum of two beautiful kids and is struggling to raise them as she does not have a job. My youngest brother struggles every day to make ends meet and depends on me and our eldest sister.
After leaving the children’s home, the world was different on the outside. I was ignorant and unequipped for life outside the home. I had no idea how to survive on my own. I was jobless and alone, and ended up living with friends. I got temporary jobs, which went for long hours and very low pay. Life was extremely hard. There were times I almost gave up completely but something kept me going. I kept telling myself that God must have had a plan for me. I never resorted to drugs but I started using alcohol. I was in an abusive relationship for two years, but when my sister got wind of this she took me in and helped me find a job. I worked in one of the most dangerous streets in Nairobi selling phones, twelve hours a day, seven days a week with very little pay. Finally, I got a job in a mall in Nairobi but some workers were laid off, as the shop wasn’t doing so well, me included, and once again I was jobless and a liability. Seventeen years ago I was separated from my siblings, we all grew up separately but have undergone similar struggles, our story is still being written. I thank God for Grace Children’s Center for taking me in and provided for me, giving me an education and a family of wonderful brothers and sisters.I thank God for Two Feet Project for making my dream of getting a university education come true. I am a beneficiary of their scholarship program and part of their staff. TFP has given me the platform to impact lives of Kenyan youth who are going through hardship, and for the first time I have the courage to share my story, I am determined to change many young girls’ lives that are going through what I have been through. God must have had a plan.
Written by, Lucy. It has taken years to talk about my story, but now that I have the chance to change someone s life, I am determined to do whatever I can to ease someone’s hardship through mentorship.