I met Bahati when he was only a few months old. I knew his oldest brother, Cortez, who was living on the streets. Cortez, along with a few other boys, lived on my street, and slept under an old truck. They often came to my apartment and cooked meals and watched cartoons. They helped me learn Swahili, and laughed at my inability to cook ugali, the local staple food.
Over the course of my friendship with Cortez, I got to know his mother, as well. Mama Cortez really struggled. She had three boys, and she lived in one of the more dangerous slums in Nairobi. She did her best to care for her boys. She did laundry for other women in the slum. She built beautiful, intricate model boats to sell. She loved her children, and her children loved her.
Two years ago, Bahati's mother and father both passed away suddenly. Naivasha Children's Shelter was able to rescue one of his older brothers, Martin. At the age of 13, Martin began attending school for the first time, and thrived. But Bahati was left in the care of his aunt, and then, later, a family friend. Recently we learned that Bahati was living in a one-room shack with a dozen other children. There was rarely enough food to eat. He would accompany his guardian to the streets to beg. Bahati is five years old.
Until last month. Last month, Shelter social workers were able to rescue Bahati and bring him back to the Shelter. He was reunited with his brother, Martin, and will begin attending school this year. The situation still isn't ideal. There is no suitable family with whom to reunite these boys. But now, they have each other, and they have a safe place where they are loved and cared for. The social workers tell me that Martin is beside himself with joy. He is carrying his brother on his back, introducing him to all his friends and telling him about the school he will soon begin attending.
If you've ever donated to Naivasha Children's Shelter, you are a part of this story. You helped reunite these brothers, and send them to school. You helped give them new life.