Ndung’u Nyoro is a gifted mobiliser. No doubt. When a situation arises, he doesn’t start wondering whether he has the money or the muscle to provide a solution. His secret weapon is his social media presence. His Facebook and twitter handle are enough to mobilise the nation to find solutions to pressing problems. Simply put, he is the redeemer of the disenfranchised. He shares his heroic deeds with MWAURA MUIGANA.
Early last year as Ndung’u Nyoro was going through his Facebook page, a Facebook friend from Kenya living in Saudi Arabia sent him an inbox asking for assistance. Margaret said that a Kenyan girl, Mary Wanjiru, who was then working as a househelp in Saudi Arabia, needed immediate rescue.
Ndung’u was psychologically devastated. He had read cases of Kenyans being subjected to inhuman treatment or even death by hostile employers in the Middle East. For Ndung’u, it wasn’t the first time a Facebook friend had asked him for such help. He understood the urgency of the matter but didn’t exactly know what to do except that once he got to his Facebook page, a solution would be in the offing. It was his secret missile to assist the disadvantaged and put a smile on many sad faces.
The first thing was to establish whether the case was genuine. After confirming that indeed it was a genuine case, he sent a video recording that Mary had sent him to a friend working in the Office of the President, Edith Fortunate, and requested her to help by instigating government’s intervention.
After verifying the information was genuine, she handed it over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A week later, there was still no response. Under pressure from the desperate girl, Ndung’u enquired from Edith. She maintained that the government works meticulously in such cases so as not to jeopardise the subject’s security.
The girl’s daily cry for help overwhelmed him and he took a step of faith. He leaked the information to active social media activists by tagging them on the video recording. The girl’s desperation spread like bushfire with many social media enthusiasts talking about it. As a result, the government acted fast. Within a week, the girl had been rescued. She was flown back to Kenya and re-united with her family in Limuru.
“I thanked Edith and the government for the magnanimous act. It was a confirmation of my conviction that social media can be used for a noble cause. This prepared me for other calls of help,” says Ndung’u, a pharmacist by profession.
In December 2014, an anonymous person sent him an inbox with details about a primary school boy in Molo, Erastus Kinuthia, who had been suffering from a kidney condition, nephritis, for five years. His face, legs, and entire body were swollen while his stomach was full-blown. Mobility was a major problem and he missed school most of the time. The same problem had claimed the life of his mother in 2009. His father, David Migwi, could not afford to take him to hospital.
“I posted the same information on my Facebook page and explained that the condition was serious and challenged my followers to help. However, I cautioned them not to send any money until I had established the case was genuine,” recounts Ndung’u.
Through investigations, he established it was a genuine case. Moreover, the boy was very bright in school. Indeed, in spite of the condition and missing school intermittently, he scored 310 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 2014.
Ndung’u posted a photo of the boy on his Facebook page showing his piteously swollen body with an appeal for medical help. Needless to say, it touched many on social media. Within four days, donations to the tune of Kshs 260,000 poured in through Mpesa. Ndung’u and several other people visited the boy’s home and helped his father make arrangements to take Erastus to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in January this year. He was put under the care of Professor J. Kayima, a nephrologist.
Erastus is on his way to complete recovery and attends clinic at KNH every three weeks. He joined form one at a local day school recommended by Ndung’u and his team and is performing well.
“I continually encourage him. I thank God for touching the hearts of the social media family. They are just Facebook friends who have believed and trusted in the cause. I’m in daily contact with Erastus’ father and update the good friends on the boy’s recovery journey,” explains the father of two girls – three-year-old Adiah Nyokabi and one-year-old Adriah Wanjiru.
Do good and move on…
The tragic story of 22-year-old Margaret Njeri from Mpeketoni in Mombasa was covered in the media for the better part of January and February this year. Maggie, as friends and family fondly call her, was a motorbike passenger when a policeman waved her rider down. The rider ignored and rode on. The policeman allegedly threw his gun at him but it hit Maggie on the head, knocking her down unconscious. She underwent a series of unsuccessful surgeries at Pandya Memorial Hospital in Mombasa and remained in a coma fighting for her life.
Ndungu’s Facebook friend in the US, Njeri Mwangi, sent him newspaper captions of the story in early February. She asked him to help the desperate family. The girl’s mother, Mariam Njeri Njuguna, had lost her husband to cancer and was taking care of her family single-handedly. At the time, she was required to raise one million shillings deposit for another life-saving surgery, which they couldn’t.
“It took me a week to get to Maggie’s family. Unfortunately, she died on the same day I got the contacts. I blamed myself for not acting fast. If I had gotten the contacts earlier, I could probably have mobilised my Facebook friends to raise the one million shillings deposit required for the final surgery. That surgery could have saved her life. I sent a text to Njeri in the US and told her even though Maggie was gone, her family had been slapped with a hospital bill of Kshs 2.5 million and we needed to help the them,” he explains.
He contacted Mariam who confessed they had planned to sell the family land to clear the hospital bill so as to be allowed to collect the body for burial. He went straight to his Facebook page and re-lived the tragic events leading to Maggie’s death. He called for justice, as the responsible police officer was still at large. He encouraged people to share and hype the story on social media. The intention was to expose the injustice Kenyans faced in the hands of police officers and how Maggie’s poor family had been left on it’s own to deal with the situation.
Within three days, the information had been shared more than 10,000 times. It had captured the attention of many Kenyans on social media. He was in a dilemma on where to seek help. He rightly settled for Mariam to go on air in one of the local radio stations and seek help.
He asked Njogu wa Njoroge of Kameme fm to join hands with him in this crusade. He made travel arrangements for Mariam to Nairobi and took her to the studio on March 10, 2015. Within two hours, the listeners had raised a staggering Ksh 2.8 million!
“We managed to clear the hospital bill and had a balance to help in the burial expenses. Maggie was laid to rest in Mpeketoni on March 14, 2015. Through this campaign for justice, the police officer resurfaced and we hope justice will prevail,” says Ndung’u.
It was through chance that he understood the power of social media and how it can bring people together for noble causes. It was in 2012 when someone sent him an inbox about his former primary school, Mona Primary School in Molo, Nakuru. The school needed help to improve the standard of education. He felt the need to bring together the school’s old boys and girls to steer this campaign. He made a proposal on his Facebook page and many former students responded that it was a good idea.
“I formed a Facebook page for interaction. Some members were in Kenya while others were in South Africa, USA, UK and other countries. We started discussing about our former school and how to make it better. Today, the old boys and girls club has a membership of over one hundred and there are many successful activities going on in the school courtesy of the alumni,” Ndung’u explains.
Last year, they sponsored the entire class eight for a trip to various monumental and educational sites in Nairobi to expose them. The trip climaxed with motivational talks from various speakers.
“We have now grown and are linking with NGOs to assist the school. In March this year, we partnered with Ahadi Kenya, the anti-jigger campaign organisation to motivate the pupils. Since we don’t have jiggers issue there, the CEO Dr. Stanley Kamau, and other key leaders gave various donations including two thousand pairs of shoes. They also gave motivational and mentorship talks to the pupils,” he explains.
He adds, “I desire to create a brother’s keeper foundation, an organisation to take care of the less privileged in the society that would channel efforts wholesomely to help the disenfranchised in society.”
Ndung’u is married to Mary Njeri, who is very supportive. He believes firmly in the family institution.
Facebook: Ndung’u Nyoro
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: 0722 447 358
Published in April 2015