Who remembers Fred? If you may have forgotten his story, check out his compelling tale that was a major input in the formation of Arrive In Kenya; just click here. Well, five years later, Fred has successfully graduated from Arrive’s complete rehabilitation program!
We could not be prouder of Fred that after years of school, obtaining his Kenyan identification, graduating driving school and receiving his drivers license, Fred at 18 years of age was ready to return to his home after a full 11 years of being away. His relatives thought he had died in 2007 and were beyond excited to see a full-grown and matured Fred walk confidently back into his family’s land; a giant smile from ear to ear.
Fred’s successful graduation meant an one open opportunity for one of the hundreds of thousands street children in Kenya to create for him or herself a better life at the Light Home of Hope in Uriri. Victor, the Light Uriri Home Manager, and I set out to find the next vulnerable and deserving young boy or girl. We first visited Machakos, the center of the Kamba tribe. We then moved onto Nairobi, where we were met with hundreds of children begging to accompany us back home.
Side Note: Being surrounded by street kids has been a common occurrence for me in Kenya, but this time was the first in which they tried to rob me. I was wearing a drawstring backpack which was virtually impossible to steal from. As it was hanging off my back, an older street kid slashed the bag with a razor blade, ripping the material in an effort to grab what was inside and run away. Fortunately I felt the theft attempt and was able to salvage all of my belongings with nothing being stolen.
Victor and I roamed the streets well into the night and after talking to countless street kids, we identified one young child – a street girl named Sharlene. Sharlene was born in the street to a mother who lived in the streets of Kawangware, a Nairobi slum. After her mother died, Sharlene continued to survive in the streets, using toxic glue as a vice to get through the day. Being a street girl is even harder than being a street boy; the abuse she endured is unimaginable. Sharlene desperately wanted to go to school and we decided to give her that opportunity. It was with great pleasure that Sharlene came back to Uriri with us to begin her new life as a student; to re-create a childhood that she missed out on; to enter the same society that once abandoned her and left her alone to fend for herself. After a quick visit to the doctors office, Sharlene was cleared to join her new brothers and sisters at the Light Home of Hope.
It has been only a few days since Sharlene has come home, but her attitude has changed dramatically. She is happy, smiling, and for the first time in what I would imagine is many years, hopeful. Hopeful of a bright future, thanks to your support of Arrive and our mission.
We’ll keep you updated on Fred’s new life outside of our home and Sharlene’s new life inside, but for now, a picture speaks a thousand words. Sharlene is in the white jumper, next to me, at the Light Home of Hope in Uriri, Kenya.