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Lost, found: Boy comes back home

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Jackline Inyanji | May 4th 2016
Harnold Ubbaga (circled) and his jovial family after his return.  [PHOTO: BENJAMIN SAKWA/STANDARD]

On Wednesday April 13, 2016 we featured the story of Harnold Ubbaga who had been missing since March 23, 2016.

This was after his aunt, and guardian, Christine Lubembe reached out to Wednesday LIFE for help to trace the missing 16-year-old class eight pupil.

Lubembe said after the story was highlighted, her husband received a call from a chief in Mahanga village, Vihiga County who said he wanted to see the father of the boy.

It would later emerge that when the boy, who lives in Kakamega County, left home at 6:15am on that fateful day, he set out to look for his mother who lives in Vihiga county. Lubembe wondered how the boy reached Mahanga when he has never been to the county and is convinced someone took him there.

“I started staying with the boy when he was in class two after my brother and his wife separated. He has never been to his mother’s place and I think she is just trying to distract him."

"We told her she does not have the right to take the child because she is married elsewhere. Furthermore, Harnold is now a candidate and is supposed to concentrate on his studies to better his future,” she said.

On his part, Harnold insists he walked from Kakamega to his mother’s place in Mahanga.

“I was at my mother’s place when I saw my picture in the newspaper indicating I was lost and my family members were looking for me. I went to the nearest chief’s station who then contacted my father and uncle and took me back home,” he said.

The young man expressed his regret that his actions caused such worry to his family and that he missed his exams. He promised to settle down and focus on his education.

Recounting the events of the day, Lubembe said there was nothing about Harnold’s demeanour, when he left for school on that day, that would indicate all was not well. It was not until she received a call from the school inquiring where he was that she realised all was not well.

“I immediately left work to look for him among relatives. I then went to school where teachers told me he had not reported that day and other pupils were doing their end of term examinations,” she says.

She was later to learn, from her nephew’s friends, that they had seen him earlier in the day and that he was not in school uniform.

“His friends informed me that when they asked him whether he was going to school he said no,” she said.

Lubembe was left wondering how the boy managed to return back home and change his clothes without her knowledge. They had already left for work and she thinks Harnold must have been banking on not finding anyone home when he came back.

On March 23, she recorded a statement at the Kakamega Police Station and embarked on a search for the boy.

“I have been through so much since Harnold disappeared and I spent sleepless nights wondering what could have happened to him. I almost gave up but friends advised me to seek assistance from the media and this has led us to find him."

"It was a sigh of relief receiving that call that Harnold has been found and I thank God for the miracle. Losing a child left under your care is very frustrating since you do not how you will tell the parents and how they will react,” said the visibly relieved aunt.

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