Christine Mwinza Mwaniki had a good childhood surrounded by a happy and loving family. But all this came crashing down one day when a horrible fire incident destroyed their family home and altered their destiny. She shared her experience with FAITH MURIGU.

Christine Mwinza, in her late thirties, is the fifth born in a family of six. She was born and raised in Nakuru County to blind father and a loving mother. She says her father shared a special bond with his wife and the two were inseparable. “My parents dearly loved each other and this gave me and my siblings security and a strong foundation. We grew up knowing that love and appreciation were key to a happy family,” says Christine, adding that her father worked as a telephone operator in a hospital while the mother worked with the then Municipal Council of Nakuru.
Altered destiny…
Christine recalls the year 1993 as one that changed her family’s destiny. They were preparing for her elder brother’s wedding scheduled for November 16, 1993 when a fierce fire reduced her parents’ home of thirty years to ashes in a matter of hours. Nothing was salvaged. It was by sheer luck that none of the family member’s died in the inferno. Some sustained slight burns which were treated in hospital. His father suggested postponement of the wedding until the family sorted itself out but his brother decided to have the wedding as he felt ready for marriage. He went ahead with the wedding without his father.
“As a result of this fire, our lives took an about turn. Everything seemed to go wrong from the day of the fire. Headaches that I had started suffering from towards the end of my primary school became worse and I was admitted in hospital. Our second born brother who worked with Telkom, Kenya went into depression and alcoholism and eventually lost his job. My brother who followed him and worked with the Kenya Army also started abusing alcohol and missing work and was sacked. My other brother was not spared either. He died from diabetes a few months after the fire. Then the glue that held us together started giving way – my previously loving parents started fighting and my father became violent on my mother and when she could not bear it anymore walked out,” Christine recalls.
Living a reckless life…
Christine goes on to narrate what became of her own life:
“The turn of events in my once very happy family broke my heart. My mother’s leaving was the final blow. I was totally lost. I sought solace in a man who promised me heaven. I had such great love for him that I discontinued my studies at the Medical Training College in Nakuru to spend my life with him. Before long, I was pregnant. In my eight month of pregnancy, a woman confronted me in his house in Nairobi where I was now living, claiming to be his wife and father of her children.
A war of words broke out and in the midst of the argument the man we were fighting about walked in and didn’t say anything. He simply kept quiet and let us continue with our arguments. Despite this hugely embarrassing incidence, and it being pretty obvious the other woman was his wife, I continued living with him. I had a very painful delivery and at some point the doctor attending to me asked if I believed in God. Through the pain, I managed to whisper a prayer and I was glad when my daughter Joy Mwende was born.
After Joy’s birth, I opened a hairdressing salon in Nairobi and business picked up fast. I also became a born again believer. Then Joy’s father lost his job and I became the sole breadwinner. He became insecure about my growing financial ability and forced me to relocate with him to his rural home where his other family lived. My life became a living hell, as not only was I taking care of Joy and his father, but also his other family members. I opened a hairdressing salon in the village but it performed poorly and so I closed it down. After enduring a lot of mental torture, I left with my daughter to go and live with my mother in Nakuru.
My mother hosted me for some time while I did odd jobs to make ends meet and when I had saved enough money rented a small room and moved in with my daughter. This marked another phase in my life. I got into the wrong company and started drinking heavily and forgot all about my commitment to God. Things went from bad to worse and before long I could not function without alcohol. In the process, I met a man whom I knew in my formative years. He showered me with love and before long, I moved in with him.
I conceived a few months later and when I broke the news to him he told me in no uncertain terms that he was married with four children and didn’t need any more children. I couldn’t imagine raising two children single handedly and so I procured a back-street abortion that resulted in heavy bleeding and severe infection, warranting hospital admission. The doctor recommended a blood transfusion, but miraculously subsequent tests showed that my blood levels had gone up.
As if out of my mind, I returned to the man’s house after I was discharged from hospital. He later brought his two children to live with us. He gave us little financial support and my life was a real struggle. Desperate, I left the relationship and jumped into yet another. My new boyfriend seemed to have the best interest for me and advised me to open a business in Rongai near Nairobi. This was after my daughter sat her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE).
We moved in together and I took a loan to start the business. To my surprise and shock, the man disappeared with all the money as soon the bank released it to me. Devastated for being yet again cruelly treated by a man, I went deeper into alcoholism and also started chewing miraa. Interestingly, even in my most drunken status, I still found time to read the bible.
The turning point…
I recall one evening in 2012; I had taken an off day from work. At around four in the evening, I went to the bathroom to take a shower. I clearly remember hearing a loud voice urging me to pray. I said a prayer and before long I lost consciousness until 9pm. Since the bathroom was communally shared by neighbours, a Good Samaritan dressed me up and took me to hospital where I was diagnosed to have suffered a stroke. The doctor prescribed various drugs which I was to take at home. My sister took me to her house when I was released from hospital to take care of me. When I was well enough to live on my own, I moved back to my house though I had already lost my job. Although I had no regular source of income, one thing you couldn’t miss in my house was my supply of miraa, which I continued chewing despite the doctor’s warning to stop the habit and take care of my health. One day, I felt a deep conviction to turn from my evil ways,” she explains
Christine was yearning to turn to the Lord and even tried going to different churches to seek salvation. It was in one such church that a pastor promised to come to her house to pray with her and He kept his promise and this was to be the turning point of Christine’s life. Slowly, she built a relationship with God, ditched her addictive habits of chewing miraa and drinking alcohol and regained her health.
Today, Christine is a healthy woman who loves God and has a good job. She is enjoying her new life while thanking God for giving her a second chance. She enjoys a healthy relationship with her daughter who sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination last month. Christine is also involved in mentoring young people and holding motivational talks in various forums.
Christine can be reached on 0727406746 or kristinmwaniki234@yahoo.com

Published December 2013