In Summary

  • Standing beside a creased murram road in one corner of the densely populated Marurui locality, Wings of Compassion is offering what its founders say is not provided anywhere else in Kenya — catering for teenage mothers who have conceived out of incest or rape until they get an education and a job.
  • The Kang’ethes’ organisation is among the charitable organisations seeking to offer solutions to the teenage mothers’ headache that is “a major health and social concern because of its association with higher morbidity and mortality for both the mother and the child,” according to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014.

Two pregnant sisters were expected at the rescue home on Thursday but only one was brought in.

The sisters, aged 14 and 16 years, are from Gatundu in Kiambu County and are believed to have been impregnated by their father, who is currently in police custody.

The area children’s officer had made plans for them to be housed at the Wings of Compassion Rescue Home, located in Marurui on the border of Nairobi and Kiambu counties, but there was a problem with the 14-year-old.

“She started bleeding when they were taken to the police station to finalise the relocation plans. So she had to be rushed to hospital. She had been given some substance in what is suspected to be an attempt to induce an abortion,” Mrs Dorcas Kang’ethe, the home’s programme director, told Lifestyle on Friday.

“The 16-year-old was brought in by two women who are lecturers at Pan Africa Christian (PAC) University at around 9 pm,” she added.

Earlier on Thursday, Lifestyle had visited the facility founded and run by Mrs Kang’ethe and her husband Danshire Kang’ethe, a reverend with the Worshippers of Faith Chapel who is the executive director at the home.

Standing beside a creased murram road in one corner of the densely populated Marurui locality, Wings of Compassion is offering what its founders say is not provided anywhere else in Kenya — catering for teenage mothers who have conceived out of incest or rape until they get an education and a job.

The Kang’ethes’ organisation is among the charitable organisations seeking to offer solutions to the teenage mothers’ headache that is “a major health and social concern because of its association with higher morbidity and mortality for both the mother and the child,” according to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014.

The survey focused on teens aged between 15 and 19. It revealed that between 2009 and 2014, 18 per cent of girls in that age group were already mothers or pregnant with their first child.

Wings of Compassion does not, however, offer relief to all teenage mothers.

“They must be total orphans, homeless and pregnant,” said Mrs Kang’ethe. They also focus more on girls aged 15 and below, though there can be exceptions.

The rescue home currently has 20 girls and 19 children aged between one month and six years. The girls come from Iten, Murang’a, Gatundu and Nairobi.

One of the 20 is a Standard Eight girl who is six months pregnant. Thursday’s arrival of the 16-year-old from Gatundu now raises the population of the school to 21 girls, with two of them pregnant.

The Kang’ethes talking to the teenage mothers in their shelter in Nairobi on Thursday. There are 21 mothers and 19 children at the home. PHOTOS | ANTHONY OMUYA

During our interview with the Kang’ethes, it was one heart-breaking story after another.

The mother of the youngest child at the facility, who delivered last month, is a Standard Eight dropout who had allegedly been raped by her step-father.

“Her father died and then the mother remarried. The mother got pregnant but the pregnancy was complicated. So, she was admitted for a number of months to hospital. The stepfather turned on the girl,” said Mr Kang’ethe.

“He was like an animal. He would meet with her on the way coming from school, drag her into a bush and do it and then leave her there. Thank God he is also in custody,” he added, noting that there are plans to take the girl to Form One next year.

Another one was a street girl in Nairobi and she conceived at the age of 11 years. Now she is in Standard Seven at a primary school in the outskirts of Nairobi while her daughter, aged three-and-a-half years, is in Baby Class.

Two of the girls who have previously moved out of the home, who left once they were self-reliant, have equally moving stories.

Miriam*, for instance, was rescued after being dumped near Isiolo and left for dead. Her step-father married her off to an old man.

“The man took her to somewhere around Isiolo, very far from her home, and then abandoned her there, pregnant,” said Mr Kang’ethe.

From Isiolo, she decided to walk to Nairobi as she had nobody to turn to.

“She fainted somewhere. And when she fainted on the way — she doesn’t know exactly the place, but according to how she narrates — some Good Samaritan picked her and took her to a hospital,” Mr Kang’ethe said.

After she regained consciousness, the Good Samaritan offered her fare to Nairobi and Miriam was subsequently taken to Wings of Compassion.

“The first thing we do when we receive a girl is to assess her health. We were planning to take her to hospital for check-up a day after she arrived. Then the girls in the room told us, ‘Agnes has funny pimples around her waist and all over.’

“The following morning we took her to the hospital with the concern of those funny-looking pimples, only to find that they were jiggers on the waistline. I’ve never heard or seen anybody with jiggers around the waistline,” Mr Kang’ethe said.

OPTED TO GO TO COLLEGE

Miriam delivered her daughter in 2013, then aged 16. She had dropped out of school in Form Two and opted not to continue with school, choosing to take hairdressing instead at a college in Karasani.

“We took her to a college where she did a beauty and hairdressing course. Agnes did very well in that place. The school itself found a job for her,” said Mr Kang’ethe.

After she was hired at a salon, she found a suitor. The Kang’ethes interrogated him and gave her a go-ahead to marry him.

“In December 2015, we wedded her at a beautiful wedding within the home. Everyone wanted to come and see that girl who was nothing and now getting married. In that wedding, most people could not believe it. She was accepted with her baby and now they are living very well in Kasarani, and two months ago, she got a second baby,” he said.

Then there is Agatha* who was rescued in 2012 after her father almost killed her for conceiving at 15.

“The father wanted to kill the girl with a panga. And when he was almost cutting the girl in the neck, the girl raised her hand. And she was chopped at the wrist. So, the hand was bleeding, then she managed to run away,” said Mrs Kang’ethe.

Agatha would later be taken to the Kasarani children’s office and later to Wings of Compassion.

“The hand healed and she was counselled until she was okay and settled. She gave birth to a baby boy,” said Mrs Kang’ethe.

The home helped Agatha continue her education from Standard Eight where she had stopped. She later sat her KCSE and got admission at the Ruiru College of Catering from where she obtained a diploma in catering.

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