A former Bungoma street boy who was rescued from the streets by a Good Samaritan and taken back to school aspires to be a doctor.
David Watata sat his 2020 KCPE exam at Sikata Primary School in Kanduyi Constituency and obtained 340 marks out of a possible 500 and looks forward to joining the Kakamega High School in Kakamega County.
The 16-year-old was rescued from the streets five years ago then aged 11 by Pastor Joseph Mukolwe of Restoration of Hope Ministries International, a non-profit making organisation that provides a safe haven for street boys.
The rescue home situated in Sikata village, Kanduyi Constituency is now home to 30 boys rescued from the streets and is managed by Pastor Mukolwe, assisted by seven other volunteers.
The home relies solely on well-wishers and during free time engages the boys in farming and other income generating activities to occupy them and make life comfortable.
Seven of the boys are attending various high schools, seven sat the 2020 KCPE and six got 250 marks and above, one had 176 marks with Watata leading the pack.
Barasa hails from Sirisia Constituency and ran to the streets in 2011 when his dad, then an alcoholic separated with his mom, leaving him and two younger siblings.
His dad married a step mother and life according to him in their single room mud hut became unbearable.
After two years of rummaging for food from bins on the streets and inhaling gum, help came along.
Pastor Mukolwe says the boy was taken through counseling and agreed to go back to school on condition that he is not sent back home.
His father died two years later (2013), Mr Mukolwe explained to KNA that the main aim of setting up the rescue centre was to give shelter to the seemingly forgotten street children after he discovered that there were so many children in the streets, and some are too young to ignore.
He said children do not just end up on the streets, out of nowhere, for many, it is due to death of one or both parents, unfavorable living conditions back home, among other reasons.
“I made up my mind after interacting with a number of them in 2009 to start this rescue centre to provide a second home away from home, and away from the streets where some of them if left alone become hardened criminals due to bitterness.
He says most of the boys just need love and peace of mind to thrive and his desire is to see them through school to become who God created them to be.
He said both levels of government should pay attention to this special category of its citizenry, whose numbers keep increasing by the day hence the need to find a more sustainable solution.
Bungoma town alone he says has up to 367, though the numbers keep fluctuating because not all are from the county.
He explained that he has collaborated with relevant stakeholders, set up a drop in centre within Bungoma town, where those who fall sick can drop in and get treated when they fall ill, get drugs or just rest when tired.
On Covid 19, Pastor Mukolwe urged the government to consider including vaccination of the street children on its priority list as a very high risk group.
“The more we ignore them, the more we risk our lives,” he says. He said the centre does not receive any help from the county government or politicians.
By Roseland Lumwamu