Two weeks ago I received a call from Fernando’s mum saying that he was missing. Fernando, a grade three boy was a student at Hands of Love from January 2015 to December 2017. He had been missing for three days and the mother wanted my help in the search efforts. After searching for two days we located at Dandora dumpsite – Nairobi’s biggest dumpsite.
We learnt that he had been lured into joining a gang of teenage boys who scavenge the dumpsite for scrap metal and other things they call sell. Difficult situation at home could also have contributed to his running away. Youth crime and gang culture – outcomes of exclusion – are becoming widespread in Kariobangi. This gangs sometimes recruit young vulnerable boys aged 8-10.
After we found him Fernando didn’t want to go home with his mother. He wanted to come home with me. I had to stop and think. His condition was bad. Dirty. Stinky. I looked at him and at that moment he was almost unlovable, but I found love anyway and took him home with me. He was afraid to go home with his mother probably because she would have beaten him. But he is okay now. After staying at my house for a week I bought bus tickets for him and his brothers to visit their grandmother in Siaya – western Kenya.
Fernando’s story shows the dedication Hands of Love has to the children and the families we serve. Even after children have left our school we remain in touch with them and their families and continue to help where we can.