Lawrence and I in Nairobi Kenya

Homelessness and College by Jonah Blumenthal

Hello, my name is Jonah Blumenthal, and for the second time in two weeks, I have come face to face with a story that has hit me hard. I met Lawrence Mutugi on my second day of this mission. At the time, all I knew of Lawrence was that he was a smiley Matanya’s Hope sponsored student. We exchanged pleasantries, and compared and contrasted college life in the United States with that of a Kenyan University student. I discovered truly how blessed I have been throughout my life. I have been given every opportunity, courtesy of my family, and have been coddled by my school system. Lawrence has had a difficult family history, and has managed to find success despite a harsh, unfair, school system. He is someone who is constantly positive and a kind soul. Lawrence is the type of guy you have a conversation with and just feel good afterwards. He is just a good person. He left me thinking, “man that guy was awesome, if he went to school with me, I would be best friends with him.” Quincy is in agreement.

Lawrence has a passion for computer science, and has done everything in his power to attain his goals of becoming a network administrator for a large organization. When Lawrence discusses his schoolwork, it is not just something he is required to do, but something he loves. He is someone who is never satisfied with the knowledge he holds but searches and continuously explores his passion. After a few hours of pleasant conversation with Lawrence, we parted ways. I assumed that this was the last time I would see Lawrence Mutugi.

Fourteen days later, I was back in Nairobi. I had hoped to see Lawrence again, and was fortunate that he didn’t have class. We got together, and again began discussing life. It was only after a considerably long, lovely conversation that I learned of Lawrence’s difficulties.

“My father was someone who was willing to help me achieve my dreams. So luckily for me I was smart and I worked hard to achieve the vision I had. My father, and friends who knew my reputation (based on my exam scores) were willing to lend me a hand. They helped me pay my room and board while in University. Additionally, Matanya’s Hope and my sponsor Doug contributed to my fees. Without these contributions, I wouldn’t be able to attend University and finish up my degree.”

“Unfortunately, this year my father passed away from illness. He had been married three times. After he was buried there were disputes between his three wives. Unluckily for me, since my mother comes from a different tribe, we inherited nothing. At this point, the other two wives claimed the money that was going towards my room and board. Now I had no way to pay the $95 a month to stay in school. Additionally, I have another brother in University, and one back home with my mother. Shortly after my father’s death, my mother was very depressed and suffered from high blood pressure. All the money that she has been able to make has had to go towards her medical bills and taking care of my youngest brother. Thus I have been left with no way to pay for my living expenses. I was faced with the option of either leaving university and going home, or becoming a homeless university student. I sought help from Michael, a friend, and the driver for Matanya’s Hope’s Missions. He was able to accommodate me for several months. Unfortunately, once he married and his wife needed to move in I was no longer able to stay. At this point again I sought refuge in a friend. He has been able to house me for roughly three months. I have turned to every friend, every family member. I am completely out of options. People just do not have the means to support me. I understand that. Now I have no idea where I will be living and have nowhere else to turn. At this point it looks like I will be truly homeless.“

As if getting a degree wasn’t hard enough by itself, Lawrence has been able to maintain extremely high marks despite being “homeless” and suffering a major loss. I admire his courage and determination. As a university student myself, his story has kept me up at night. I have pondered what it would be like to go through Lawrence’s experiences. I decided that I would do whatever I could to help him come up with his room and board. He has 11 months of school left. At $95 a month this is a very possible goal. Please, if you are able, help keep Lawrence in school. He has come so far. I know that if I was suffering the same difficulties, I would feel lost. Help give Lawrence a home, and keep his dream alive.



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