At 19 years old, Peter is a qualified yoga instructor after gaining his certificate through a scholarship with the prestigious Africa Yoga Project. Since qualifying Peter runs private and community yoga classes, meaning he can earn an income, pay rent and live independently. But things haven’t always like this.
For 12-year-old Peter, life was very different. His mother died when he was young, and he faced rejection from his family. By 2014, Peter was living on the streets.
For homeless children in Kenya, life is far from easy. They lack essentials, often struggling to find food. Violence, abuse and exploitation are common. And they are often criminalised and put in Remand Homes, sometimes just for the ‘crime’ of having nowhere to call home. While living on the streets, Peter was regularly locked up.
But thankfully there are people looking out for children like Peter. Like our partner, Glad’s House Kenya. They use sport, like street football sessions, to build relationships with street connected children. They got to know Peter and found he was a talented artist, a good boxer and someone who keeps going forward despite the hardship life has thrown at him. In 2018, he travelled to Russia with Glad’s House Kenya’s football team to represent his country at the Street Child World Cup!
With care and support, Peter was able to leave the streets. And over the last couple of years, he has worked hard to improve his life by seeking out new opportunities. In 2019, he was shortlisted for an Africa Yoga Project scholarship. But COVID-19 delayed him starting the course and he had to wait until late 2020 to finally begin.
“My biggest challenge during the training was doing the daily assignments. They were all in English, so I had to rely on my friend to help me understand.” Peter told us.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. Peter skipped a few days, and the Glad’s House Kenya team was worried he would lose the scholarship. They got in touch with him and encouraged him to keep going.
“For me, meditation has been great”, Peter told us
“The best thing that has happened to me is getting the certificate. During the graduation, everyone was surprised that I had mastered all techniques. I kept quiet during the training. I didn’t like to talk because some people looked down on me.
But when it was my turn to lead the class, I didn’t get any of the poses wrong. Everyone clapped for me! Now I can talk to people I never thought I would talk to in my life. When they learnt that I had been to Russia, they were really shocked.”
Peter is looking forward to using his qualification to help children who are still on the streets.
Street connected children face intense trauma. Drug use is common as they seek to escape the tough reality of life on the streets. Homeless children who are held in remand homes, like Peter used to be, too often don’t receive the right psychosocial support. But yoga and mindfulness sessions have been shown to have far-reaching benefits, even helping young people to overcome trauma. “The idea of meditation is to bring your attention to physical space.” Peter said. “For me, meditation has been great”.
“I am especially looking forward to doing the sessions at the Likoni Remand Home. I think it will be very helpful for the children there, and I can invite a colleague so we can lead a session together”.
Peter leading a yoga class
Peter also learned how to turn his yoga training into a business and earn an income.
“We have been taught how to manage clients. I know that if I’m taking a community class with Glad’s House Kenya, we don’t charge money. If it’s a private class, then I am not supposed to mix it with the community class members.
Through yoga, Peter has found a way off the streets and out of poverty. And it’s only been possible with your support, funding the vital work Glad’s House Kenya do. But his story is only just beginning. This year he’s hoping to open a bank account and get an identity card – two stumbling blocks that children who grow up on the streets regularly face to becoming integrated into mainstream society.
Glad’s House Kenya empowers homeless children and young people in Mombasa, reaching out to the most marginalised groups to provide them with a safe space and trusted adult. With your support, street connected children are empowered to create a brighter future for themselves.