Bonded and Resilient Sisters
The two sisters who were 3 and 5 years of age at the time when they last saw their mother spent the initial years of their lives with their mother and father in Vihiga County of Western Kenya. Later, their father migrated to Nairobi where he found a job in a cemetery. The endeavor was lucrative to the point where he decided to transfer his children from the rural set-up in Kakamega to the metropolitan environs of Lang’ata in Nairobi. True to his word, he enrolled the children a school in the city and worked hard to support them and their mother who was expectant and still residing in Kakamega.
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As time went by, the father of the two girls started to visit one of the informal settlements in the southern part of Nairobi. With the visits, came extramarital affairs with a female resident of the settlement. Hence he neglected his family to the point where he neither supported the biological mother of the children back at home nor cared about the maternity expenses of his newly-born son. Soon, the lady with whom he was intimate with relocated into their residence with her three children and they commenced to cohabit in the presence of his children. After immense suffering without any support from her husband, the biological mother of the two girls launched a case of neglect at the office the area chief of their rural location. He accepted the summons by appearing before the chief but was non-committal in supporting his wife and the newly-born baby boy.
After sometime, he fell sick and one side of his body became paralyzed. He could therefore not continue to work at the labour intensive cemetery. Loss of his job caused the family to shift to the neighbouring informal settlement of Kware in Ong’ata Rongai with a myriad of challenges. The children inconsistently attended classes and persistently lacked food, clothing, water and proper parental care. Amidst the deprivation, their step-mother also subjected them to perpetual physical and verbal abuse. The children were thus left at the mercies of the neighbours for inconsistent support and guardianship.
One day, in May 2014, the father of the two girls failed to return from work. The situation travailed for one week and the stepmother of the two resilient girls abandoned them and fled with her three children. She though the father of the two girls had bolted out of the home because he could not bear the challenges of supporting a large family. Unknown to her, he had actually collapsed along the way when he was coming from work and had been taken to hospital by good Samaritans. With courage, the two girls stayed in the house for two days with minimal support from the neighbours who reported their case to the chief of Kware location. The chief presented the matter to the District Children’s Office and the children were rescued and admitted in CARA Girls’ Rescue Center in the District of Ngong’. On his return from work, the father of the two girls enquired on the whereabouts of his family and was directed to the Children’s Office. He visited the office but was however not allowed custody of the children as they required urgent medical attention. Both of them were malnourished as one endeavoured a very serious skin infection. He managed to trace the mother of his stepchildren in different part of Ong’ata Rongai and they continued to cohabit. At this moment, their biological mother had migrated to Nairobi and found work as a house-help but was unable to trace her children and their father.
The two bonded sisters stayed in the transitional home for one week and were later referred to a warm reception at Olturoto Children’s Village on 26th June 2014. After their admission, the caregivers of OCV formulated their cases and traced their father through CARA and established a relationship with him. They were also admitted to school a week after integration in OCV, received continuous medication, psycho-social care, proper nutrition, shelter and protection from abuse. Their father and stepmother also attended parent’s meetings where they gained skills of proper parenting and caring for the children. During the holiday of August 2014, OCV caregivers dropped them off at their parents’ new residence in Rang’au in Ong’ata Rongai. They stayed in the home with their father and stepmother for one week with consistent psycho-social and financial support from OCV caregivers. In November 2014, their father relocated to Jomvu in Mombasa, where he worked as a casual labourer in one of the industries. During the holiday of December 2015, with the financial support of OCV he picked up the two children and stayed with them for the entire period and returned them before schools opened. After both holidays, the two children gave positive narratives about their stay with their parents.
In the first quarter of 2015, the stepmother of the called the Programme Manager and informed him that the father of the two girls had ignored her pleas and left Jomvu for Nairobi in the company of her son. She thus cautioned the Programme Manager not to accept any narrative from him to the effect that she was dead. In the process of sharing, she also informed the Programme Manager that the biological mother of the two girls was still alive and went ahead to disclose her number. The Programme Manager invited the father to OCV and he stated that in as far as he was concerned, the biological mother of the two children died and had been buried by her relatives in his absence.
Through regular communication on the number that had been given by the children’s stepmother, the Programme Manager invited the children’s biological mother to OCV. When she came, the children could not recognize her because they had parted ways when the children were still very young. Later, when it was disclosed to both of them that their mother was not dead, they shed tears of joy and hugged each other with love and compassion.
OCV caregivers continued to work with the biological mother and father of the two girls to the point of mediating between them to stay together. Their stay did not last long because their father’s attention was divided between two families. That is why the caregivers decided to continue working with their mother and progressed to establish relations with their maternal grandparents in Kakamega County of Western Kenya. The relations were fruitful because after two home-visits, the maternal grandparents accepted that the children be reintegrated with them in December 2017.
So far, the children are progressing well because one of them in class four and has been leading her classmates in exams, while the elder one joined secondary where her progression is positive. OCV caregivers continue to follow up on their progress in Kakamega with support from their mother and their grandparents.
The two Supporting Sisters
The two girls were staying with their mother at Inchoroi location in Kajiado County. One day, community health worker realized that their elder sister was supposed to undergo forced marriage before attaining the age of 18 years. Their mother was not empowered and therefore could not influence the situation in favour of her daughter. The children’s father was also deceased.
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The community worker reported the matter to the District Children’s Officer and their sister was rescued. In the process of rescuing their sister, the Children’s Officer also foresaw a scenario where the two girls would be susceptible to the same danger as their sister. He noted that they could also be subjected to Female Genital Mutiliation (FGM). She therefore decided to rescue them and refer them to CARA Girls’ Rescue Center in the District of Ngong’ in May 2014. They stayed in the home for one week before being referred to OCV.
At the time of their referral to OCV, they were still traumatized and malnourished. It thus followed that after their admission, OCV caregivers formulated their cases and ensured that they received medication, education, proper nutrition, psycho-social care, shelter and protection. The caregivers also traced their family through the contacts that had given by the children’s office and invited their mother and stepbrother for trainings on proper parental. In August and December 2014, the caregivers visited the family and held a family conference with their mother and stepbrothers where the issue of preventing early marriage and Female Genital Circumcision of the two girls were discussed at length. In both instances, the family was positive about the mentioned items and promised to support OCV. The mother of the children and their stepbrother continued to attend parents’ meetings for training on parenting skills too.
In 2015, they continued to attend the trainings as the children were empowered with life-skills on the rights of children. However, on the eve of their reintegration in December 2015, one of the two girls mentioned that she was in danger of undergoing Female Genital Circumcision and forced marriage. OCV responded to the matter by suspending the children’s reintegration, informing the District Children’s Office, seeking legal advice and informing the chief of Olturoto location. Given that the children were traumatized by the matter, OCV decided to transfer them from Olturoto Primary School to Rombo Girls Primary School in Oloitoktok in 2016. This measure was undertaken to ensure that they continued with their education peacefully.
After working with their mother, stepbrother and the area chief of Inchoroi throughout the year 2016, the two girls were readmitted to Olturoto Primary School in January 2017. OCV caregivers prepared the family for their placement and proceeded to sign an MOU with their mother and the chief of Inchoroi location in October 2017. In December the same year, they were reintegrated with their mother at Inchoroi.
The initial stages of their reintegration was not easy as one of the girls informed the OCV counselor that she was at risk of being subjected to FGM. OCV caregivers responded by informing the chief of Inchoroi location and convening a conference with family members. The family members explained that they had no intentions of taking the girl through FGM. The chief informed the family members about the legal implications of the ritual. On their part, OCV caregivers emphasized on the need to protect the children from harm and progressed to inform the Sub-county Children’s Office about the case. They also gave the girl their contacts and encouraged her to call them for help whenever she felt at risk of any form of danger.
OCV caregivers solved the matter amicably with family members and the chief and continues to follow up on the case by visiting and calling the family for regular updates. The two girls continue with their studies with the support of OCV. Their mother is also empowered with parenting skills to take of her children in spite of the daily challenges she experiences with them daily.
The nimble twins
The twins, a boy and a girl from Kibini location, of Sultan Hamud- Kajiado County were orphaned at the age of three years. After the death of their mother who was single, they stayed with their maternal uncle and grandfather who were then not empowered in child protection. Hence, by the time of their admission in OCV, the two children were malnourished and emaciated. Their case was thus presented to OCV by the Chief of Olturoto location in the year 2016. OCV caregivers rescued them in the same year, at the ages of 5 years.
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After assessment, it was found out both of them could barely read, write, speak or read in Kiswahili or English. One of them was also on ARTs and appeared to be very sickly. In spite of the challenges, they were very playful and friendly to adults as well as children in OCV.
OCV caregivers noted that they were deprived of education, psychosocial care, medical care, nutrition, care and protection. They thus enrolled in ECD, accorded psychosocial, given medication under very close supervision, conferred balanced diet and food supplement, alongside care, protection and shelter. Their uncle also attended sessions on child protection and income generation to enhance his knowledge in caring for the children and to set up a small business that could help him support them together with his own children. OCV caregivers also organized for family conferences that empowered other family members with knowledge on HIV & AIDS and child protection.
In the process of working with the family, OCV caregivers also consulted with Compassion International as the long-term care and protection institution to which the children would be referred after reintegration. Caregivers of the institution responded positively to the initiative and actively participated in the family conferences by assuring members of the children’s family of their support in medication, education, nutrition and protection. So, before their reintegration in 2017, OCV had linked them up with Compassion International for long-term care in the above mentioned areas.
The family positively received them back during their reintegration in December 2017 as they had integrated the important aspects of child protection. The children were also happy to reunite with members of their family as they were psychologically prepared for reintegration, literate and healthier.
OCV continues to follow up on their progress since they were reintegrated with their family. So far, the family and Compassion International have been giving positive updates on their general progression.
The robust girl
Before she was rescued by the Rescue Dada transitional home in 2014, the mother of the girl had been drifting from one place to another with her children. One day, she abandoned the girl and her siblings in the padlocked-room of a tavern in Thika Town. The two children stayed in the room overnight until one of the revelers discovered them and alerted his colleagues. By this time, they had not taken bath and were also hungry to the point where they started crying. The carousers responded by passing them food through the window and consoling them till the door to their room was opened.
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Through the phone of one of the revelers, they managed to call the children’s grandmother. She called their aunt who responded by taking them to her place in Baba Dogo in Nairobi. After staying with them for a while, she linked up the girl with Rescue Dada, from where she was referred to OCV on 27th June, 2014.
On assessing the girl’s situation, OCV caregivers noted that she had been neglected, exposed to alcohol abuse, deprived of food, subjected to emotional abuse, and denied parental care as well as education. She was thus enrolled in school, given balanced diet, taken through counseling sessions and accorded parental care. OCV established a relationship with her aunt because she was the most reliable primary caregiver of the child. She attended parents’ meetings and gained knowledge on parenting and generating income. Throughout her stay in OCV, her mother could not be traced because she continued with her tendency of migrating from one town to another.
Through home-visits and support of the child’s aunt, OCV caregivers managed to trace her maternal grandparents’ home in Ichaweri- Gatundu. Her grandparents were happy with the progress she had made in education and emotional stability as well as life skills. They also accepted that she be reintegrated with them. In December 2015, she was comfortably reintegrated with them in Gatundu.
When her mother got news of her reintegration, she decided to transfer her from Gatundu to Murang’a, where her other aunt is married. She made the decision amidst being restrained by the grandparents and the aunt of Baba Dogo. She however persisted and took the child to Murang’a and enrolled her in class seven, instead of class five. On receiving the news, OCV caregivers organized for a home and school and visit to Murang’a. After intense negotiation, they agreed with the mother and the school’s administration to have the child admitted in class six instead of class seven or five. Seeing that the child’s class placement was higher than her year of study, OCV caregivers consulted with the teachers and agreed to pay for her tuition at the school.
Together with the child’s aunt of Baba Dogo, her mother and her teachers, OCV caregivers have been consistently following up on her progress. They also conduct home-visits to Gatundu and Murang’a to give the child assurance of their psychosocial support.
On her part, the girl remains focused on her studies and is hopeful that she will perform well in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and progress to Secondary School.
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