A poor start but a happy ending

We were going through our normal home visitations and this Monday morning the sun was scorching down on us but had no option but fulfill our calling. We boarded a vehicle ended to the hills to visit one of the OVC supported by Muthetheni Child Sponsorship Project. We alighted from the public means and walked our way to the hills.

After walking for around 2 hours we reached our destination at around 2.00 pm. When we approached the gate, we were moved by the excitement of a woman who was running to meet us that was all smiles and laughed uncontrollably. My colleague responded with a smile and a hand shake and I followed suit. The woman did not stop to amuse us. We later learnt that the lady was the head of the household and that she is mentally impaired. She looked malnourished and wore ragged clothes. She could only express herself through her native language. The woman ushered us into her homestead which was only two structures. The main house is a small single room, mud walled and grass/rags thatched. The walls are such that there is no difference between when you are in and when you are out. Adjacent to the main house is another structure which is raised up 5 meters above the ground. We later learnt that the head of the household takes his nab there after his night duties and it also serves as storage for the family. Within a fraction of a minute a young boy dashed out of the main structure. He is laughing and saliva uncontrollably flowing from his mouth. The boy is not willing to shake our hands (greeting) even after begging. One of my colleagues called his name “Sauti” a Swahili name for voices. It was evident that the boy had not seen water in days; one would smell a bad odor from his body and clothes 500 meters away. Shortly, a lady walked out of the house. My colleague called her name”Mueni”. She welcomed us and ushered us into the main house.

Sincerely speaking, entering the single roomed house one had to monitor her steps well since the room was tiny and full of tattered clothes, shoes, empty containers and dirty utensils were all over the place. At one corner of the house were three stones with some dying core of fire at the centre, evidence that the place is used for cooking and as a source of heating for the family. On it is a big earthen pot with some little water. Asking Mueni what they were cooking, she said there was nothing to cook and that they had not had breakfast. They were hoping that their father (a watchman) who had not resumed home from work would come with some maize flour and some kales for lunch. At another corner was a raised structure made of timber running horizontally and others diagonally and on it were ragged clothes, an old blanket and some pieces of mattress. We later learnt that the structure serves as bed for the family. At a third corner was a heap of clothes and my colleague could not help educating them on the importance of hygiene and the need to organize the house however tiny it was. She kept rising the heap of clothes as she advised them to throw what was not useful and leave only the items that they needed in the house. All over sudden we heard cries of a baby. After a careful search we realized that the baby had been laid on the heap of clothes. The elder daughter had given birth to a baby boy the previous night and had left him behind in search of water 10 km away. We picked the bouncing baby boy who could not stop crying, we guess as a result of hunger. Her grandmother held him on her arms as we walked out of the house all shocked.

We sat under a mango trees which is 2 meters from the main house and my colleague narrated the sad story of the family. This is the family of the child number 3349.1009 Ndungwa Mukonze. Ndungwa is a teenage girl of 13 years of age in Class 5 in Kikulumi Primary school. Her mother is mentally handicapped and the father is a watchman in the same school where Ndungwa studies. He earns Kshs.1, 000 per month (approx. 10 euros) which is hardly enough to cater for the household basic needs. Ndungwa is a sister to other 6 sibling’s, three boys and three girls. All the seven children together with their parent stay in the single roomed house described above. Thank God for their father’s nature of work, he works at night and only comes to rest a few hours of the day before resuming his night duties. In the single room is the kitchen, sitting room and bedroom for the whole family. Privacy has been jeopardized. “Sauti” Ndungwa’s brother is also mentally handicapped and dropped out of school in class 2. Mutindi the elder daughter went up to class 5 and is the mother to the bouncing baby boy being cuddled by his grandmother, Mueni was lucky to study up to class eight but was not able to continue with her studies due to financial constraints. Mumbua the elder son managed up to primary school class 3. Due to the present condition at home he disappeared to unknown destination to date. The other siblings are doing some old jobs in the nearby market but comes back home in the evening. After spending slightly more than two hours with the family, we started our journey back in order to curb the risk of missing the one and the only vehicle that would get us to the project office. It was around 4.30 pm and their dad the only hope had not resumed home.

It is for this reason that we decided to write a proposal since the situation at hand was crucial and needed urgent measures to be taken. Four months after writing the proposal and handing it over to DAI- Nairobi we received funds to construct a house for Ndungwa’s family. The house was completed in two months and the situation has drastically changed. Some benefits for constructing a house for the family are highlighted below:-

  • Ndungwa will remain in school and is out of danger of early marriage
  • Ndungwa’s performance in school has improved since she can do her home work and assignment with ease.
  • Family integration- Ndungwa’s siblings can sit and chat together as a family.
  • A conducive environment for Ndungwa to learn and grow with positive attitude towards herself, life and others.