My name is Winifred Kinya. Some of you may already recognize me from the video on facebook (though I don’t have internet, Michelle has shared the video with me). I am the elder of the two sisters being interviewed.
For the first few years of my life, until 2010, I lived in a very happy family. But all was to change when alcohol took over my dad’s life. He frequently came home drunk and furious. He would demand his supper. It was only my mom who could face him. On one occasion, she told him: “For some few days now you have not been bringing food into this house. How do you expect the chidlren to survive?” My dad got more furious. He threw everything to the ground and turned to my mom and started yelling at her. He slapped her in front of us. We feared this man who used to be so kind; we did not know why our dad changed.
My elder sister became our protector and took us to her room. At the same time, my mum left the house and walked into the night. We locked ourselves in the room.
Morning brought a new day and my dad followed his usual routine. He left for work around 10. My mum came home and told us to pack; my youngest sister Annita and I would be moving out to my grandparents rural home in Meru. My elder siblings would remain in Nairobi for school.
We could not make it to Meru. My mom did not have enough money to facilitate our travels. We stayed with her aunt for the night and through her goodness, she gave us transport to complete our journey. Although my grandparents were old and no longer worked, they welcomed us with opened hands; I heard my grandmother say to my mum, “these are my kids and nobody will take them away ever, even if it is their father; from today this is their home.” My mom looked for a school and enrolled us in Victory Academy to continue with our education. I was in class 5 while Annita was in day care.
Empty pockets were plentiful; money was tough to get. Mum worked long hours every day, working on other people’s shambas (farms) plucking tea leaves for about $1.50 a day. She raised half of our fees but this was not enough to keep us in school. We were sent home for 3-4 weeks without attending class. The next term was the same. I did not even do my end of term exams because of school fees due.
In 2011, my mom spent some time trying to work on her marriage with my dad. We all dreamed of a family the way it used to be. Soon, mum got a younger child and my dad denied the baby. He refused to give even a single coin for her care. My grandparents paid for everything. First us and now our baby sister. Though they relied on the little they could earn by picking tea, they taught us to give unselfishly and with love.
The years were hard. I could not find peace because every day was a day where the school could send me home for fees. I missed so many lessons. My hopes of finishing primary school or ever going to high school were low. I saw others being sponsored, but my name was not chosen.
Then, in 2014, an angel from above, Michelle Stark, found me crying. I explained to her that I was the only one in my class without a way to go on our class tour. She walked with me and listened to my story. She promised to work hard to find me a sponsor.
Today, I am able to learn well through the support of Matanya’s Hope and my wonderful sponsors Barrie and Gail Robertson. I never leave school for fees.
Thank you for standing by my side. Today I am at Kijabe Hospital with Michelle and the missions team. They brought me here for medical treatment after learning that my voice has been reduced to whispers since last year. Tomorrow I go through a naseo-ensopologial scope. Matanya’s Hope has not left my side.
My dream is to complete my education with a degree in banking or accounting. I want to use my resources to help other children like me, most of all, those who have been orphaned.
Michelle has helped my sister and I. Now my mom never works on other people’s shambas (farms). Though she cleans toilets in the big city far from home, I am very proud of my mom. She stands by our sides with love. She shares every coin she earns with a kind and giving heart. I thank God for such role models in my life!
Thank you Matanya’s Hope.
Thank you Barrie and Gail Robertson.
Thank you Mom.
You are all a part of my wonderful family!