Far from where I once was

Far from where I once was

Written by: Sheldrick Akabunga, Grade 8 HHFL student

My journey begins and ends with family.

I was raised very poor and my family did not have the means to support itself.  My father was sick and at the age of eight I had no idea that my father would soon no longer be with us.  Dealing with his loss was painful and I cried for weeks.

My uncle who lived in Nairobi came to visit us after my father’s death.  Paul became like a father to me but he soon left and took my mother with him.  I was left with my grandmother, who was also poor.  After not having been in school for some time, my grandmother contacted my aunt in Nairobi so that I may travel there to get an education.  I was now nine years old and living with my aunt who was a drunk and only showed love to her own child.  I didn’t even know what it was like to celebrate my own birthday.

October 2nd 2005 I ran away but I didn’t know where else to go.  When I escaped from my aunt, I was caught by the police in town.  The police didn’t have anywhere to take me so they decided to take me to a children’s home.  It was a prison for unwanted kids.  I had no one to take care of me and I now realized that I had lost my family forever.

I used to cry everyday hoping that God would bless me with a lovely place where I could call my home.  Kabete was the place where no one would ever want to be.  Teachers would beat us harshly and never had mercy on us children.  They hated me so much because I didn’t know where my family was.  I tried to tell them that I ran away but they never listened.

I ran away from this prison three times.  They thought I was crazy, but they were wrong.  When I escaped the third time, I travelled so long to reach Lenana.  Even though I didn’t know anyone there, a very caring mother took me in to help me.

This is when I met Mama Hanne and Baba Ted.  They had decided to start a project which will help orphans and other children whose parents couldn’t afford to take care of them.  Mama Hanne took me in as her child and she took good care of me.  At the age of eleven, they began educating me.  They have been caring for me and helping me since 2005.  And I even hope to join high school.

In 2014, Moyra, one of HHFL’s Board members and Simon, HHFL’s recent fitness graduate, told me that they were going to take me somewhere so that I can teach some pupils some exercises.  Simon told me that I was going to a school to teach.  It was far but we went.  When we had arrived at the school, I was frozen, completely shocked.  It was the prison.  It was that place that I had been some years ago.  But this time, I was there to teach.

The place was the same but many of the teachers were no longer there and there were only two that I remembered.  What was shocking to me was that they didn’t even recognize me!  That’s when I realized I had changed.  I began to draw with the children.  I looked over at Simon who was teaching the older students yoga and I realized what a journey I have been on.  I am far from where I once was.

I thank Mama Hanne and Baba Ted so much and I will never forget them for the rest of my life.



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