We have been making hot meals for street kids in Kenyan city of Kisumu for 6 months. A local man named Zadok helps us at this ministry. Zadok is one of the first graduates of the “Transforming Africa” missionary school. Nowadays he is in charge of “Street Kids” ministry.
There are more than 250.000 street kids in Kenya. In the city of Kisumu there are 10.000 children that live at the streets. Some of them are orphans, but the most of them are kids that left their homes by different reasons.
Our ministry is located at the poor areas of Kisumu where many street kids live. We have been making hot meals for them and teaching them the Bible. Our dream is to develop this work, so later on to found a rehabilitation center where the children will be able to receive a hot meal, take a shower, wash their clothes, and have a medical help.
Once we didn’t simply distribute hot meals, but could have a nice chat with those guys.
We came to the meeting place by tuk-tuk (covered motorcycle with three-wheels, made to carry people or load). We brought the fresh hot meal. A few guys had been already waiting us. When they saw us they were slowly coming closer. Having seen me, they started greeting me, asking “How are you?” with alertness and feigned efficiency. I noticed funny blue hats and guessed they were distributed as an advertizing, so I decided to use this topic to start an easy conversation:
– What is your name?
– What an interesting hat you have! You look nice with it! I see your friend has the same hat too. Where did you get it?
David said something with excitement, but it wasn’t clear enough for me to understand. Maybe he mentioned the place they had got the hats, but it was not that important.The most important thing was that we started talking!
While we were talking other wards of Zadok joined us. Some of the guys were junked up, other ones had plastic bottles that they used to sniff toxic glue. I tried to seem not interested, but noticed all small details: the guys who were junked up, the ones with a good mood, the clothes they were dressed on, who had shoes, and who didn’t have them, those who were interested to talk, and those who just came to eat to go away…
Walter Otieno wasn’t the most seen boy. He didn’t seem special at the first sight. But I was going to talk to him.
When we started talking, he was nervous.
– Walter, how old are you?
– How long have you been living at the streets?
The boy seemed confused:
– A year and a half…
– How did you find yourselves at the streets?
– My mother and father died of AIDS, and then my aunt died because of the accident. So I have found myself homeless…
– Do you have other relatives?
– Yes, I have a grandmother.
– Where does she live?
– She lives in Busia.
– Is it far from Kisumu? Why do you not live with her?
– It is not far, about two km from the city. I was living with her when my mother had died, but it was hard to stay with her, so I am here.
The boy clearly didn’t like the questions about his grandmother and why he doesn’t stay with her.
– Do you meet with her time to time? – I decided to ask him one more question about his grandmother.
– Sometimes… – muttered Walter sluggishly.
I chose not to speak about this topic and asked another question:
– Did you go to school?
– Yes, when my mom was alive and could pay for my school, I studied and completed 8 classes. I dream of studying, and so desire to graduate the school! – Walter was extremely excited saying this.
– What subjects do you like the most?
– I loved history and Swahili the most…
– Cool! I like history too; my education is a teacher of history.
Walter smiled at me, and I continued:
– What would you like to do in your life?
– I would like to be a scientist, a physicist.
I was a little bit amazed by the difference between favorite subjects and his desired job for the future.
– Do you sniff toxic glue?
– Where do you get money for food and glue?
– I sweep at the barbershop, and they pay me.
– How much do you get?
– 30 shillings (0,3 $).
– Why do you come here?
– I come to see Zadok and to eat… – he answered sincerely. I like that the first he had mentioned Zadok, and not the food.
– Are you friends with him?
– Yes, Zadok is my friend. – Walter responded; he seemed pleased. Having seen that now he is so open and sincere, I decided to ask one of the questions I was interested the most in.
– Walter, what do you think of God? Do you believe that He exists? Do you think He takes care of you?
– I think He surely exists. God can do everything He wants. I know He helps me very often.
– I think so as well. I am so glad He helps you. Thank you for your answers. It was very interesting to talk to you.
Walter smiled. He saw that our conversation was going to its end, so he asked with a hurry:
– Will you help me to be back to school and to complete the study? I so desire to get education!
I was a bit confused, because I didn’t know what to answer. It was seen that the guy tried to use any chance to have a better life. He truly dreamed of school, and wanted his life to be changed, and he wouldn’t live at the streets. I didn’t deceive him, and answered that I could promise nothing. But I said that I would write the story of him, and maybe God would open someone’s heart to help him. He smiled at me; his eyes had a spark of hope. We hugged each other, and he left…
Later on I got to know new details of Walter. He sniffs glue very rarely, not as other boys. He has never come to the meetings with Zadok being junked up. He is one of the first who started coming to our meetings, and never miss them. He is always friendly and ready to help with distributing meals. This boy has leader skills, and many other guys listen to him!
The days of street kids are always the same as the Kenyan nature with no big difference in temperature and seasons. Mostly, the Kenyan street kids don’t hope for their life to be changed, and don’t think of their future, preferring to ‘run away’ from the real life by sniffing glue. But there are some people who believe and dream of changes, but sadly those ones rarely find strength and possibilities to fulfill their dreams, to go against the torrent. That is why we are here, in order to motivate boys to be proactive in their lives. We desire to help them not just with our words, but with actions as well.