Psychologists say that one’s childhood plays a great deal in how one turns out as an adult. In the way you relate with yourself and with others.
Kevin Bahati, 24, Gospel singer
Growing up in a Children home, everyone knew me as the most silent child. This was not because I didn’t have anything to say. There were needs and questions that every growing child has. Parents are always there to listen to these little concerns from their children but no one was there to give this full attention. I sometimes feared asking for simple things from our caretakers. Not all children homes are the same. In other’s the caretakers bring anger from their own families and vent it on the kids in these homes. Growing up like that destroyed my confidence.
Most things I know about love, marriage and relationships are experiences I gathered from the streets. They are the same experiences that lead me to whatever choices I make in life. Mostly I have learnt the hard way.
From my hardships, I have wanted nothing more than to bring up my children in a stable family that is complete with a mother and father. I always take them to visit children homes because I want them to grow up into individuals who take care of the less fortunate.
I thank God for who he has made me. Where I didn’t watch a simple television show growing up, I now have a reality TV show. But much as I mark every accomplishment in life with gratitude, there is a gap that no one can ever fill no matter how much I try. I sometimes wish my mother could be around to congratulate me for these achievements. It is the longing I have always had in life.
Even now, I don’t know if anyone really loves me
Alex Apoko AKA Ringtone, Gospel musician
My mother abandoned me and my father died when I was only five. My elderly grandmother took me in but also died when I was only seven, leaving me with relatives who mistreated me until I took to the streets. At some point, I even went to the coast since someone hinted to me that there, I would find a rich old tourist who would marry me and give me a good life.
From the time I was a child, while I lived with abusive relatives and underwent bullying as a street kid, I knew that nobody loved me. I think this feeling grew and became a part of me and it just can’t go away.
Even now, I meet people and the first impression I get is that they don’t love me. It has affected my relationships with women too since I never find it easy to tell a girl that I love them. The rejection I faced from Zari Hassan even after I tried to impress her with a Sh60 million car is one of the instances that broke me into pieces. But with the grace of God, I am becoming a better person. I know that love from people can never surpass the love we unconditionally get from God.
I didn’t want any man in my life
Annastacia Marietta, 28, former TV presenter
I was always the girl who would tell my friends that I didn’t need a man in my life to be successful. This was because I didn’t have a father growing up. All my life, I had locked men out of my heart. I had locked out the possibility of having a man in my life and to having my children have a present father.
Something a male friend told me someday that struck a chord in me. He said that it wasn’t fair that I denied my own children a chance to grow up with a father just because I didn’t have one myself. This, plus something that happened during last year’s fathers’ day has prompted me to reexamine men. We were celebrating the day in an Eldoret church. Families had been instructed to sit together. From where I sat with my daughter, I saw how happy everyone was, saying nice things about their fathers. I broke down knowing that I had missed the best moments in life. I cried a lot that day thinking how happy I would have been if I had a father in my life. While I was separated from my baby’s father, I didn’t want my her to miss out on a father figure in her life the way I did. While still at the church, I made up my mind to call my father. It would be the first time I spoke to him from the time I was born. My efforts to get his mobile phone contact from one of my cousins was however not fruitful.
Though my mother and I are good friends, we have never discussed my father. I just learnt from my aunt that my parents parted ways when my mother was pregnant with me at 22. I had a stepfather at a point but he too disappeared, leaving my mother with my brother and I. It was the last time my mother was married and I have never seen her with a man ever since.
I am now opening myself up to dating again. I will open up to a man that will take us as a package and I will give him five more children. Having grown up in a large extended family, I know the importance of having many people in the family and I therefore want to have six children.
A part of me didn’t develop as it should have
Caro, 29, MMUST graduate who grew up at Kanyawegi Children’s home
It was tough growing up in a children’s home. There, you don’t get love in its totality compared to other children who grow up with their parents. There was about 30 of us. That meant that attention was always divided among all of us. In a way, this prompted me to work very hard and I joined university on government sponsorship. I went to Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology where I pursued Journalism.
Despite this achievement, I always feel there is a part of me that would have grown more had I been brought up by my parents. I for instance gained knowledge on dating from what I observed on the streets and not in a stable home. I have also grown to be an introvert for leading a silent life in a children’s home. No one can fill the gap for my mother.
How could anyone love me? I was unworthy
Albert Kipchumba, 43, Gilgil OCPD
When my mother died and my father disowned me soon after. I spent most nights out in the cold on an empty stomach. This saw me grow into a very bitter child and the feeling didn’t go away until later in life. I was rebuked and beaten for referring to other people’s mothers as my own mother. When I was a bit older and people told me where my mother was laid to rest, I visited the cemetery of AIC Mission Hospital in Kapsowar in Elgeyo Marakwet to shed off some of the pain I felt. But I never located her grave.
I can’t remember having been appreciated once in life apart from the clapping in school when I took first position because I always led in class. After that the students would go back to mocking me because I always kept to myself, knowing that everyone detested me. I repeated class eight three times, each time coming top but my father, then a government employee refused to take me to secondary school and neglected me at my grandmother’s place. She mostly begged for our meals.
The first ever person to tell me that they loved me was a girl who was pursuing a medical course at the Kenya Medical Training College in Nairobi. She sent me a letter while I undertook police training in Kigali. At first, I thought it was a lie. Who was I that someone should tell me they love med? No one had shown any kind of appreciation to me, let alone tell me they loved me. In fact, I had never dared to imagine myself standing before a woman and telling her that I wanted to be friends with her, let alone ask her out on a date. I never knew what it meant to love. This gesture planted confidence in my heart. But it was short lived. It came crumbling down when the girl broke up with me and said her father wanted her to marry a lawyer instead. I was crushed. No one taught me to love. I had to learn how to do it.
Being a Kalenjin, I decided to never marry a fellow Kalenjin who had probably seen me grow up in a despicable background. I married a girl from a different tribe and together, we have three sons. I want to be the exact opposite of my father who cast me to the dogs when he was capable of giving me a good life. I want to give my children the best they can ever get from a father. And I know that from my seed, there will be people in the United Nations and other top positions in the society. I know this because my father and I were in very good terms when he died.