Thursday, February 3, 2011


(Part of the former Main Street Gang, from left to right, Joseph, George, David and Richard)

Richard is one of the first street boys I met in Nanyuki. I have always been impressed with his bright demeanor despite the fact that he has been in the streets for many years. He has always avoided doing glue because he says "if you do glue, the other kids see you and (they) will go do it". In order to make money he begs or carries water from the river to local businesses. At age 16 he is truly a positive role model to the other street kids. His primary caretaker is his grandmother who is unemployed and responsible for the well being of eight grandchildren. She is a sweet woman and when I met her she invited me in and showed me the death certificate for Richards mother who had been killed in a car accident.

I had hoped that Richard would be the first of the boys to join Alfred in School. At the tutoring sessions however, he showed a lack of concentration. Eventually he started forgetting his books and saying he would come "next time". After years being out of school it was obvious that Richard had lost either the interest or the concentration required for academics.

When I returned to Kenya from my trip to the US I was sad to find out that Richard was no longer in Nanyuki. Often the street kids will disappear, most of the time just relocating to a new place where they might find better luck. Sometimes however the kids disappear because they are arrested, have an accident, or are sometimes kidnapped. I was hopeful for the best, but you never know.

Two months later Richard returned. He had been in Malindi on the coast because his grandmother was ill. I decided that while he was here I wouldn't let the opportunity to help him pass me by. Richard (with help from some of his educated friends) has turned in a business proposal to me. If he has a bicycle he will be able to bring water to many more businesses per day. He estimates that with a bike he should be able to make over 100 shillings per day. This is easily enough money for him to live on, while paying back the loan for the bicycle. He will be getting his bicycle in the next couple weeks and starting his new life as a working man.

This past month I have been collaborating with the Danish NGO ActionAid (formerly MS) which has a platform located on Daraja's campus. I worked with some of their volunteers to create a series of videos on the street kids and their lives. This video is about Likii Village the area that accounts for about 70% of the street children in Nanyuki. It is also the proposed location of the kitchen project I am trying to implement. Richard (who is from Likii) is featured predominately in the video and watching it is a good way to see what he is all about. The video is intended to be an amateur introduction to the issues, it was made in one day and has some sound problems so don't be too hard on it!

Special thanks to: Marie Lunau, Ida Peterson, Simone Bakke, Ida Marie Odgaard for making a great film!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Matt
    Great blog, looking forward to read about your work with the boys.
    We arrived in Tanzania this morning, it's extremely humid and hot here.
    Hope everything is well at Daraja. I already miss it there.
    Say hi to Richard from the four of us next time you see him.
    - Marie