On a gloomy Tuesday morning, a group of street children gathered at a public cemetery on the outskirts of Eldoret town.
It was a sombre occasion.
They were paying their last respects to one of their own who died a hero on Friday evening.
On this evening, two street children were swept away by the raging waters of Sosiani river in Eldoret.
Then, 21-year-old Peter Ndingori, who had been living on the streets for 10 years, was talking with his girlfriend along the banks of the river where he had retreated after concluding his daily chores of ferrying sacks of potatoes for clients.
He had asked for a moment with his girlfriend, only identified as ‘Shiro’, to iron out a few issues in their relationship.
According to those who were seated near the couple, Ndingori was asking for forgiveness from his beloved over issues best known to them.
But the conversation was cut short when he heard screams from his colleagues signaling that two of them were in trouble in Sosiani’s raging waters. Ndingori did not stop to think.
“Before he and Shiro could conclude their conversation, we heard screams from our colleagues from the river. Immediately, Ndingori removed his gumboots and shirt and dived into the water,” said Peter Barasa.
From the river banks, spectators watched him deftly pluck out Simon Ekitela, 14, and Peter Madenga, 11, from the angry waters.
However, his struggles to remain afloat were unsuccessful and the river’s raging current dragged him under.
Those who saw him struggle in the water said he lifted his right hand for help before his body slammed on a rock.
“We picked his body along the river near Kogo flats area. He had injuries on his head,” said Barasa.
According to street children, Ndingori was a good swimmer and had always been of help whenever one of their own slipped into the water.
“He has been part of us for more than 10 years,” said one street boy.
Those who knew him said he was dedicated to his work and was planning to leave the streets to start a new life.
Eucabeth Owino, who has been working with street families, eulogised Ndingori’s struggle to get off the streets.
“He was one of the best football players in our local team,” she said.
Nobody knew Ndingori’s family.
His home was ‘California’, a code name of one of the favourite sites for street families on Sosiani’s banks.
His only family were his colleagues on the streets, who gathered at the public cemetery at Kiplombe to bid him farewell.
The two boys who Ndingori rescued are still in shock and have kept away from the streets since the incident.