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Failed marriage, my daughter’s death drove me to start a Children’s Home

By Mumo Munuve | July 11th 2021

When Ruben Mokua, a child living with cerebral palsy, was brought to Precious Virginia Home, Electine Wanyama, the founder of the facility, instantly fell in love with him.

Despite his severe condition, Electine was determined to help the ever-smiling but sickly boy boost his immunity and experience the love and care that he had missed for three years.

She gave him a new name ‘Precious’, just like her facility. Unfortunately, their relationship was short-lived. Mokua died five months later.

Mokua, who was born in Kisii Level 6 Hospital and abandoned by his mother in 2018, had been staying in the hospital because he had nowhere to call home. The hospital administration, therefore, sought a court order to give the boy out to a Children’s home.

Driven by her passion to help children living with severe disabilities, Electine gladly received the child, secured him a medical cover and brought him to her children’s home located in Matungu, Kakamega County.

However, Mokua developed a strange skin disease where wounds kept on appearing and reappearing on his skin, a condition that scared Electine and caused her sleepless nights.

She rushed the boy to St Mary’s Mumias Hospital where the child was admitted.

“I stayed beside his hospital bed for more than five hours. At around 5pm, I called one of my facility’s caregivers and requested her to remain at the hospital as I left to take care of the other children,” recalls Electine.

Sadly, before she reached the facility, the mother of four received a phone call from the hospital that left her disheartened. “The caregiver informed me that the child was no more. I was frustrated.”

Electine could not hold back tears when burying Mokua at Mumias cemetery, a few days later, after government officers opposed her decision to bury the child in the one-acre piece of land donated by the ministry of Lands.

Electine, who started the children’s home in 2016, had worked as a volunteer in a similar facility for three years in South Korea.

When she returned to the country, she decided to walk out of her troubled marriage. She later got pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful girl, Precious, who died four years later.

The unfortunate turn of events caused her so much pain, which prompted her to seek solace in helping children by showing them love and compassion.

“The death of Precious was so heartbreaking for me. I decided to start a children’s home in her memory. I launched the facility on August 6, 2016, the same date that my child died,” narrates Electine.

The 53-year-old started by renting a house in Shianda in Mumias East where she hosted 16 children living with cerebral palsy. Nevertheless, due to the increasing number of the children she received, the house could no longer host them all.

She later approached the office of the County first lady that facilitated access to the ministry of Lands, which gave him a one-acre piece of land in Matungu that the facility currently sits on.

“I approached the Hindu community residing and doing business in Kakamega town and they agreed to build us a house on the piece of land that the government had given us. Another well-wisher also donated a Sh200, 000 solar water heater for the facility.”

Currently, the facility hosts 10 caregivers and 25 children living with cerebral palsy with 25 others in the home-based program due to lack of rooms to host them. The youngest in the centre is barely 6 years old while the oldest is 26 years old.

“We frequently visit the children in the home-based programme and evaluate their condition. We also conduct guidance and counselling to the parents living with such kids,” Electine explained.

However, she notes that running the facility has not been a walk in the park due to the ever-increasing challenges in the sector.

“The greatest challenge has been medical covers and finances to run the facility.  We lack a consistent income because very few parents are willing to pay for the home-based services offered. We have been surviving by the donations given by well-wishers,” she laments.

Electine notes that she derives comfort and the purpose to life from empowering the innocent children despite the challenges that come with pursuing her passion.

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