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With a heart made of gold

Achieving Woman
 With a heart made of gold (Photo: B. Malika)

The life of Beatrice Malika is one to be applauded; dedicated to providing a home and education to less privileged children living in the slums.

“My heart beats for children. I am interested in being the voice to the voiceless when it comes to struggling children and teenage mothers,” said Beatrice.

Beatrice runs a free education, free meal school dubbed Glory Christian Education Centre located in Njathaini, Kiambu County.

“I used to do Bible clubs for children around that area at 2 pm every Saturday. Through these sessions, I realised the children were not going to school,” she says.

It broke her heart to find out that when other children were in school learning, her Bible study pupils were begging around Thika Road Mall.

She started asking questions to find out why they adopted the lifestyle.

The answers she got moved her. Some of them lived independently, without parents or anyone to finance their education among other basic needs.

Others lived with their grandparents who could not afford to take them to school while others were homeless, running away from the horrors they were going through in the places they called home.

“That is when I came up with a place where they can read and eat for free. That’s how the education centre was born in 2014.”

As Beatrice’s relationship with the children grew, she came to learn there were many cases of neglect. Some of the children did not feel safe at home.

“So that is how Glory Christian Rescue Centre for girls and boys was born. The rescue home also became a centre for teenage mums in Western Kenya.”

A report by the National Syndemic Disease Control Council in 2023 showed that 696 adolescent girls are impregnated daily.

Another report by the Kenya Human Rights Commission showed Nairobi has the highest number, 452, of teenage pregnancies, followed by Kakamega, 328, and Bungoma, 294.

Beatrice noted this trend during the Covid-19 era. Her team sat down with the girls and asked them what they wanted.

“We asked them whether they would like to go to school or do a course that would empower them. Most wanted to go back to school. We now have about 40 girls benefiting from the centre.”

You could see the pride on her face as she said her daughter, Shekina Machon, has sponsored three girls to high school.

“There is this one boy that makes my heart weep. He was brought up by his mum, but unfortunately, she died. His grandmother took over, but it wasn’t long before she also passed away.

He was left in the care of his uncle who did not treat him well. The uncle would sodomise him and remind him that as long as he was a little man in that house, he would always be the ‘wife’.

This was so heavy on the boy that he ran away from home to live in the streets. It got worse because big boys would do the same and worse to him. At one point, he was told to do what they did to him to a dog.”

Such stories affect her mental health. They weigh her down. 

As Beatrice started school, she faced a lot of criticism from those around her who did not understand her motives properly.

“In the beginning, my husband was not into it. When I told him I wanted to start a school, he laughed. He now is a servant of God who supports me when he can. I am grateful his mindset changed.”

Beatrice gets help from well-wishers, however, sometimes she has to dig deep into her pockets. One of her largest classes has 70 children. They will have to proceed to junior high and other levels.

However, her school only covers up to junior high. The children who have been schooling and eating for free will have to move to other schools that offer the same services, all of which come at a fee. 

The scholarships offered by the government do not benefit the students from Glory Christian since it is a complementary school. What happens is they have to be enrolled on a government school and do the exam from there so they can get bursaries.

“Hurt children grow up to be hurt adults and are now hurting their children. It is time we sensitize this mentality. I would think of a centre where people are taught how to bring up a child with love.”

Beatrice says neglecting children is unacceptable. She says many people fear street children, but in reality, the young gems have a soft personality that needs to be nurtured.

“Every time someone sees a child in the streets with the cobbler’s glue in the mouth, they clench their bag and some of them are not what we think they are. They are crying hoping to find someone who will come down to their level and see who they are.”

The many who call Beatrice mummy found a safe space.

“I don’t stop them from begging. I let them do it because I know where they come from. They have to look for ways to sustain themselves and their families.”

Additionally, she ensures they use the money to benefit themselves and not buy drugs. They buy clothes and gift each other. The more such skills are installed, the less they appear in the streets begging.

 “When I see a girl who did not have dreams to go to school dressed up and looking happy, it makes me happy too. When I see boys that would have turned to a bad lifestyle in the university taking serious courses, I feel satisfied.”

“One of the kids told me ‘mummy, I will do to 10 others what you have done to me.’ That’s all that matters to me. That is music to my ears.”

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