My name is Hillary Omondi and this is my experience with KUAP-Pandipieri Children Service Programme supported by Chance for Childhood. In February 2012 I was rescued from a dump site by Philip Nyangara a social worker with the Street Children Programme and he invited me to come to KUAP-Pandipieri Catholic Centre to the Street Children Programme.
The reason I went to live in the streets of Kisumu and then daily went to the dumpsite was related to problems I had experienced at home because being raised by a single mother whose source of income was little and who worked very hard in one of the small street food-kiosks which was quite a big challenge because no matter how hard she worked she was unable to make enough profit to provide for our needs at home. We were four children and I was the eldest and that in itself put pressure on me and I realized that at such a young age I was responsible for the family.
The most urgent need I experienced was for school fees because I had put a lot of effort into my Primary School National Examinations. I didn’t see any way out of the situation and I opted to go to the streets to find a life there since I could not go to Secondary School the way other children I grew up with had and they joined various institutions for Secondary Education.
So many children live in the streets of Kisumu. They are seen as ‘bad children’ but really life for these children is not easy. They have to eke out a living and they go to the dump-site scavenging for anything they can sell to buy food. Standing on mounds of rotten rubbish is difficult and demands critical analysis of where one begins and avoids getting infections that require hospitalization. I went to the dumpsite daily and life in the dumpsite and streets was never easy for me or for other children in similar circumstances. One thing I learnt in the dumpsite was to decipher articles that were of value and bargain with customers when I had them gleaming like new and I managed to get a good price for them.
As a child, you look for your own food to sustain yourself, and your own security and you set your own rules. We would scramble for scraps to go sell, it was what Charles Darwin calls “Survival of the Fittest”. You fight like vultures scrambling for anything that you could sell. No one is there to protect you. Once in a while, we would engage in very dangerous fights, the weapon we used was broken bottles. I remember one time I engaged in a fight and I got a glass injury on my toe, it was painful but no one cared, it was “a game for boys” and many believed that was a way to make ‘strong boys’.
I was in the Children’s Service Programme for approximately three months. I attended Non-Formal Education and then I was reintegrated home to live with my family. Fortunately, Children Service Programme supported me to attend Secondary Education and I joined Alendu Secondary School in the second term and did my KCSE in the year 2015 and I got C+ though this could not give me a direct entry into University as I had wanted. I repeated form four so that I could get the necessary grade to enable me to go to University and this time round I was successful.
I joined Laikipia University to study a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology & Security Studies and I graduated on the 29th July 2022. Currently, I volunteer at KUAP-Pandipieri Children Service Programme since I graduated. I wanted to give back to the institution that supported me and I now support street-connected children who have dreams to dream. My dream is to become a University Professor and a Senior Criminologist who will support in finding various ways to reduce crime and to make society safe and secure.
I have gone through a transformation in my life and the cycle of life experience supported me to become the person I am today as I reached out with both hands to grasp the wonderful opportunities presented to me. My sincere thanks to all who guided me.
The Big Chance gives us the opportunity to double your donations, cementing the impact of your support. Your £20 becomes £40 giving 24 children access to books and educational supplies for the whole year.
Together, we can ensure thousands more children receive their fundamental right to an education and change the course of their lives forever.