For the past seven years, Eunice Achieng’ has been tracing her roots after losing contact with her family when she was only six.
Achieng’, who can’t recall her exact origin, found her way to Nakuru after her impoverished parents gave her up to a female family friend to work for and her pay sent to them.
“I can’t recall the name of my home village. My parents handed me over to a woman I only knew as Janet around 1999. I worked for some months before she started torturing me,” said Achieng’. The 28-year-old mother of two said one evening, her employer turned violent which marked the beginning of her losing contact with her family for over two decades.
“In 2000, I managed to escape from Janet’s home. I was hosted by a woman who used to make illicit brews in Nakuru for a year. She then handed me over to her daughter in Neissuit,” she said.
Her new host, however, got married in 2005, leaving her stranded in the village that is at the foot of Eastern Mau forest.
“I met a man known as Mzee Juma who took me in. His home was in Biston. He enrolled me in a primary school. After I sat Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam, he took me to Njoro Youth Polytechnic for a tailoring course,” said Achieng’.
She said that she once again lost her guardian angel after Mzee Juma and his family relocated to another place months after she completed her studies at the polytechnic.
“Part of his family viewed me as a burden. When they left Njoro in 2015, I decided to rent a small house and started a tailoring business, which did not do well,” she said.
Later that year, she moved in with Japheth Abukose as her husband whom she had met earlier when they were both students at the polytechnic.
“My husband has been my only family. We now have two sons aged seven and three years. I draw from them the strength to keep moving on,” she said.
Her husband said that for him, it was love at first sight when they met at Njoro Youth Polytechnic.
“It has not been easy for me but I keep pushing on for the love I have for her and our two sons. I always wear a brave face when people, some of them my relatives badmouth us,” he said.
He said whenever he plans to make an upcountry visit to his parents, it always turns emotional for his wife as this reminds her that she has no parents to go to.
“Her response is always that I am lucky to have parents to visit unlike her who doesn’t know a single relative apart from her in-laws. I have to assure her that one she will reunite with her family,” said Abukose.
He said it hits her hard when their children ask why they do not take them to visit their maternal grandparents. Abukose said while this largely affects his wife, it trickles down to him when it comes to observing traditions relating to marriage.
“I have always wished to pay her dowry. But I don’t know where to take that dowry. This exposes me to ridicule from those around me,” he said.
Two years ago, Achieng’ started recollecting memories of how she lost contact with her family in an attempt to reunite with them.
Her first stop was at a Nakuru supermarket where her first employer, Janet, was working. She was told Janet died 10 years ago.
“All I remember is that my mother was Consolata Anyango and my father Otieno. I just wish to meet them again,” said Achieng’.