John, aged seven years, is one of the most vulnerable children in the Amasiko project. He often report to the Amasiko drop-in centre where he receives daily meals, access to cleaning facilities and medical care. But for the past 3 weeks, Allan had not been to the Amasiko Centre as required.
John was abandoned to die by his parent before he was rescued and brought into the Amasiko street children program. Unfortunately, he was returned to his abusive father because his grandmother Dorotia could no longer afford to cater for his upkeep along with his 3 younger siblings and 4 other children.
John came with his grandmother to the Amasiko premises earlier this week and were so sad to tell us that John’s dad, a vendor of popcorn, wakes up by 6 am and locks the house leaving his three children outside under the care of John. Dorotia says the local council chairman sent for her to come and rescue her grandchildren because they are living under very harsh conditions.
The neighbours said that their dad gets back home late with only a few potatoes or fingers of bananas which cannot satisfy the family. The three weeks they have stayed with their dad, they have not had a chance to eat lunch or wash their clothes, which were usually afforded to them at the Amasiko centre.
It’s the rainy season and very cold, so it’s very hard for one to survive without warm clothes but God is generous and the three children have been looking in the neighbourhood, house to house looking for food in the rain without trousers only half naked in T-shirts, says Dorotia.
The local council officials have advised her to take John and his siblings back to her home because the kids may die of child neglect. All the responsibilities of bringing up the children have been put on Allan as usual.
He says, “my father tells me to look after my young siblings. I bathe them without soap. I go to fetch water but when he finds me gone to the spring he beats me that I leave the children alone. Where does he want me get the water to bathe them?”
’John while crying showed us his thumb he cut accidentally while peeling potatoes his father had brought late in the evening. He says “I was peeling in darkness and had to go outside so that I could get the natural light of the moon because we did not have a candle but it was too dim because of the rain, and cut my thumb”.
He said that his father throws whatever he brings for supper at him to prepare while he is in his bed waiting for the meal to be ready. When it’s ready John wakes his dad and the serves the food.
His father; Kashomesa piles his clothes for John to wash whenever they get dirty. He says most of his dad’s clothes are jeans and whenever he does not clean them thoroughly well, he beats him up regardless of his wounded thumb.
John says he does not like his father because he smokes marijuana. When asked how sure he was that it’s marijuana he described its packing and indeed it was. Having seen the chilrdren’s insecurity, Dorotia has decided to take them up again but she had made up her mind to let them stay with their father since she could no longer take care of 8 children under her roof.
Dorotia said “even if I can’t afford lunch and supper, at least I can afford to wash their clothes and bathe them”. She amused Amasiko staff when she said that if you plant a bean on Joshua’s head it can germinate. Joshua is John’s young brother that was explaining the extent under which they don’t bathe.
Their grandmother was asking what we can do for her and we advised her to seek assistance from the police under the Child and Family Protection Unit. Allan is back at the project and his siblings are at Dorotia’s home. Dorotia says she has no alternative but to again carry the load of taking care of these children. She says my daughter was stupid and got married to a fool so a combination of the two can never raise children. She painfully says her children never attained education due to poverty and so are her grandchildren.
Dorotia looking down, talking at a low tone with tears rolling down her cheeks said I had no option but to hand my little angels to hard conditions because of stinking poverty.
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