Patrick Kanyora, 21 and his 19-year-old sister Susan Wangui, were allegedly abandoned in the streets of Nyeri town when they were just six and four years old, respectively.
For more than 14 years, they have each lived separate lives — away from the reassuring sibling love and more painfully, not able to grow under the protection and guidance of their parents.
When the two met in Laikipia last week, eight years after a brief meeting when they were 9 and 7 years old, they could not hold back their emotions — tears of joy ran down their cheeks.
Kanyora recalled the rough life in the streets and how, as the eldest, had to protect his sister. At the time, they were too young to understand what was going on in their lives.
But one day, police officers mopped up street children from the town and the two were handed over to the Children’s department and subsequently taken to Nyeri Juvenile Home.
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They were committed to Kids Alive Children’s Home in Karundas within Nyeri.
Kids Alive has two separate homes for girls and boys and since 2004, Kanyora and Wangui were separated although they remained under the care of the same organisation.
Since there was no proper documentation when they were taken off the streets, the organisation’s management could not immediately establish the relationship between the two.
The situation got worse when Kanyora was transferred to another home in Narumoru in 2007.
The owner of the organisation was a foreigner and at some point he had to leave the country, and left the home under the care of the Baptist Church.
While at the institution, Kanyora told the managers about his lost sister.
“They kept trying to reach Kids Alive to see if they could get any information on my sister and coincidentally, Wangui was also looking for me. One staffer identified her and she was brought to where I was,” he said.
“I was so excited, we played together the entire day before she was taken back to her home,” he recalled.
The gods seemed to have conspired to hand Kanyora a heavy blow after the home was closed down following a land tussle.
The land on which the home was built had been donated by a well-wisher who now wanted it back. Left with no option, the church closed down the institution and the children were rendered homeless, again.
Fortunately, they were taken in by well-wishers, among them Ol Pejeta Conservancy, before they could be committed to established children homes.
When this eventually happened, Kanyora was among 10 boys taken to One More Day for Children (OMDC) — a Laikipia-based organisation that hosts abandoned children.
No proper records
The organisation’s director Hellen Gathogo admitted the boys in 2012, but once more there were was no proper records to trace their roots.
“Their papers were as empty as the boys were. They were very tiny and none of them could tell where they came from or who their relatives were,” said Ms Gathogo.
Kanyora stayed at the institution and in the first year of admission, had to retake his Class Seven studies.
Al this time he still could not tell much about Wangui, even the organisation she was in.
“We tried to trigger Kanyora’s mind to see if he had any memory of his relatives,” said Gathogo.
Luckily, he had a clue following the planned reunion at the former Narumoru home.
Kids Alive where the sister was, on the other hand, did not know where Kanyora’s was since they did not know that the Baptist Church home had been closed. “It was difficult tracing the organisation (Kids Alive) when he explained how they moved from one home to another. He could not remember the name,” said Gathogo.
It has taken years for Gathogo and Kids Alive manager to meet, and more importantly, to reunite the siblings.
When Wangui met her bother in Doldol, Laipia North, where the centre is located, it was an emotional moment.
After being away for 14 years, tears of joy, hugs could explain the emptiness Kanyora and Wangui have carried through their lives.
“I did not know my sister would remember me. She was tiny when we were separated and we could barely comprehend a thing,” Kanyora told The Standard at OMDC.
It was such a memorable reunion, he pricked her mind to see if she had any memory of them together.
“She remembered when we met at the former home and she did not want to eat her food (rice) and cried to share my Githeri. I hugged her and couldn’t let her go. I missed my sister,” said Kanyora.
But now that the jigsaw puzzle of their lives is almost complete, one piece is missing — where are their parents?
While Kanyora is dying to reunite with them, Wangui is bitter, constantly asking why their parents, if indeed it’s true, abandoned them in the streets.
Kanyora has since completed secondary school while his sister is in Form Three.
“I want to take care of my sister after college because we have to leave our current homes after high school. But I will be more fulfilled if my parents would come out and explain to us why they abandoned us at such a tender age,” said former student of St Daniel’s Boys in Meru.
“We want to understand why they felt like we were a burden to them,” said the former student of St Daniel’s Boys in Meru.
Kanyora wants to pursue hospitality and tourism studies in college to make his dream of becoming a chef a reality.
The dilemma OMDC and Kids Alive faces after Wangui completes secondary education, is understandable.
The Children’s Act allows such organisation to take care of children until they attain the age of 18, and after that hand them back to their families. However, the two have no families to go to.