Easter offers little to cerebrate for street families

Teresia Waithera with her child on the streets of Nairobi, yesterday. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]
As Kenyans celebrate Easter away in the village, city streets remained empty of benefactors for a forgotten group that lives off donations.

For Joy and her friend Teresia Waithera, Easter does not mean much as they huddle as a family along Koinange Street.

As they while away time on the streets together with four children, their hope is that well-wishers would drop them a coin here or - when lady luck smiles – a note there.

The two are young mothers born and brought up in the streets and now raising their children in the same streets. Joy does not know her age but she already has two children with the same man. Her first born is two years old while the second is just a month old.

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“Their father who is called Dan is in custody after being arrested in a swoop by askaris; you know they keep harassing us,” she says as she breastfeeds Desmond, who is in some new clothes donated by a well-wisher.

As night approaches, they will be sleep on the pavement opposite the Telposta Towers. Joy’s other son is at Uhuru Park ‘hustling’ already.

Her friend, Teresia Waithera, 20, on the other hand was born to a street family in Eldoret. She then came to Nairobi, carrying along her sister Sharon, 15.

Waithera’s baby is a year and six months old. With them is their friend, Mercy Itelo’s nine-month old baby.

Waithera says, “Mercy remained at Uhuru Park today because she is unwell and needed to rest.”

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Unlike Joy who wonders what Easter means, Waithera explains that it means a period when Jesus died and resurrected. She however says she never goes to church.

Joy, Waithera and Sharon are easy as they tell of life in the streets. One challenge, they say, is constant harassment by askaris. But they have hopes and aspirations.

“If I can get a chance to do a course so that I can fend for my children, I would be very happy,” says Joy who would like someone to sponsor her children to school. “I know they will take care of me in future and the street is not the best place for them to grow.”

Waithera concurs, stating that nobody would wish to have their children brought up in the streets because of the harsh conditions. “When we fall sick we go to Kenyatta National Hospital because that is the only place we can get help,” says Waithera. 

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