, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 1 – “When I was born I had beautiful dreams”
‘But what happened to you sister?’ ‘I lost my parents when I was young.’
So went on an emotional choral verse presented by about a dozen children between ages 10-18 in the slums of Korogocho in Nairobi.
Listening to their difficult childhood that makes survival of a young innocent baby born in a slum sound like a miracle, one had to fight back tears.
The children recounted excruciating life experiences that had robbed them off their childhood, exposed them to HIV and forced them to become adults at the age of below 10.
Some of them – at the age of five – did not know what it is to be brought up.
They grew up like bushes grow in forests and find themselves surviving among trees.
Drugs, child labour, prostitution and rape are on every step they make as they walk through the thoroughfares surrounded by shanty houses that are tightly squeezed together.
It is a place where poverty bites hard.
*Tasha* is a 12 year old girl.
She is easily noticeable because she is tiny compared to her other age mates.
It’s her uniqueness that attracted me to a drawing which she was preparing to show the U.S Ambassador Robert Godec.
The sketch had a drawing of a running tap, and there was a person washing clothes that had filled a big basin.
Below the drawing she wrote: “The life that was there before…, working to earn something, about Sh50 a day.”
Tasha’s story is not different from thousands of other children in Korogocho.
Some of them through their drawings hanged against the walls of a social hall told sad stories of them hawking mangoes, working as house girls/boys and as drug peddlers, at tender ages of below ten.
At the age of four, Tasha, her seven siblings and her mother moved to live in a makeshift structure in Korogocho after the death of their father in 2007.
“My dad passed on when I was young. They burnt our house because our dad had died. We then moved to Korogocho with my family,” she recounted.