Fredrick Mwaura is single yet a father to many children whom he has literally laid down his life for. Rescuing street and other needy children, empowering them with education and reconciling them with their families and guardians are some of his daily responsibilities. He shares his laudable deeds with MWAURA MUIGANA.
My first impression of 33-year-old Fredrick Mwaura is that of a confident IT guru at the top of his game. Far from it. He was brought up in Dandora, Nairobi, as the fourth born of a single parent. Fredrick watched his mother, Mary Njoki, enjoy a love-hate relationship with street children. Her fish and chips kiosk was the focus of many street children whom she fed every day.
“They had a funny way of showing gratitude, often sneaking behind her back and stealing her clothes from the clothes’ line. That didn’t stop her from feeding them,” he says.
Young Fredrick didn’t understand this relationship until the day his mother rescued two orphans from Ruiru town and brought them into their home.
The orphans, who had been abandoned by their relatives, were emaciated, suffered from disease and had bulging eyes. They fought for food before it was laid on the table, yet each was assured a plateful of food. Fredrick was touched by their plight.
Inspite of being the youngest among his four siblings, he was the only one who assisted his mother in taking care and rehabilitating these children.
To begin with, Fredrick and his mother focused on feeding them so they could regain good health. They then trained them to practice civil behaviour and avoid violence as a means to solving disputes. Fredrick’s mother later enrolled them in school and today they are in high school and doing well in their studies.
A born-again-Christian and very active in church mission work locally and abroad, Fredrick has gained good background in children and youth ministry.
He did short courses on fundraising and resource mobilization, HIV/AIDS and community development whenever he got the opportunity, oblivious of how that experience would come in handy someday.
His mother, Pastor Mary Njoki, has faced various challenges trying to help needy children. Because of her kind gestures, needy children from the community would flock into her businesses premises in Huruma, near the Juja/ Outering Road roundabout until it was too small to take more.
In 2000, she converted the two-storey business premises into an informal school and a feeding centre for the children. Joy Divine Children’s Organisation, as she named the new venture, started with nursery, pre-unit and lower classes, as well as accommodation facilities for children with nowhere to sleep.
With the help of two cooks and two teachers, they cared for over 70 destitute children; feeding them, nursing their wounds and offering them an education. “The introduction of free primary education in 2003 saw most of these children enroll in public schools, but more kept coming in,” explains Fredrick.
Without government financial support or major donors, Fredrick’s mother struggled to make ends meet and no matter how difficult the journey became, her willing heart to help needy children would not give up.
She particularly needed a caretaker to help with the children but could not afford one. It was at that time that Fredrick had just completed high school and didn’t have money to pursue further education that he felt a calling to help his mother with the children.
He moved into his mother’s outfit and became the caretaker, while also offering a father figure to the children. He brought in volunteer pastors and counselors to counsel the children, motivate them and also hold prayers and Bible study with them.
This helped transform the children, some of whom had gone through various traumas such as violence and sexual abuse. Some had sexually transmitted infections, while others were hooked to drugs.
Happy with the support he was getting, Fredrick began thinking of ways to empower the children with good education and convinced his mother that they could not educate the children at the centre as it was small and without resources.
He sought partnerships with private schools and although there was a lot of resistance in the beginning, the first batch of six children were admitted to private schools in 2004.
To his surprise and despite the stigma the children faced, they were all top of their classes at the end of the first year. One of these boys is currently pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
Encouraged by the first group’s performance, Moi Forces Nairobi has todate enrolled 22 children from the centre. Other schools that have joined this partnership include Ndururumo High School in Nyahururu, Daniel Comboni Primary School in Nairobi, Martin Luther Primary School and Sunflower Academy in Nairobi.
Fredrick is grateful to these schools as they have a special arrangement on school fee payment of children from Joy Divine. With the help of missionary groups through his church, other organisations and well-wishers, Fredrick, who is now the project manager of the centre, raises funds for the welfare of the children.
The jealousy stint…
Not everyone was happy with the setting up of the children’s home. A section of the community complained that the children were praising and worshipping too loudly hence disturbing their peace.
They accused the organisation of all manner of things. One night in February 2004 the facility was petrol bombed. Luckily the community responded and helped save all the children and put out the fire. It destroyed the kitchen, hall, all the furniture and sound equipment.
It took four years to put up another structure through help from KLM, the German airline, and students from the United States International University (USIU) who donated furniture.
Some missionary groups also helped paint the new kitchen and hall. Fredrick says they are currently looking for funds to expand the organisation and accommodate the growing number of needy children.
“The children have done very well in their studies and extra-curricular activities and some have had opportunities to participate in various local and international forums to represent Kenyan children,” says Fredrick.
In 2007, two children from Joy Divine presented their success story at a forum held at the Serena hotel, Nairobi, during a presentation of a cheque by Barclays Bank UK and UNICEF for rehabilitation of street children across the country.
This function was presided over by the then vice-president, Moody Awori. Fredrick regrets that Joy Divine did not benefit from this funding.
A heart for the needy…
A visit to Kirathimo camp in Limuru, which hosted internally displaced persons after the December 2007/2008 post election violence, brought tears to Fredrick’s eyes. He found many school-going children not attending school.
Through the help of the Red Cross, he rescued 35 children and took them to Joy Divine on February 8, 2008. Through concerted efforts, the organisation provided basic needs for these children including school uniforms and stationery and enrolled them in various schools including Buru Buru One, Moi Airbase and Kariobangi North Primary School. Others were enrolled at Anointed Secondary School.
Ten of the children were KCPE candidates that year but had lost all their documents. The organisation managed to register them and they all sat the examination at the end of the year.
One of them is undertaking a degree in mechanical engineering at JKUAT. Another 25 are in secondary schools and 20 in primary schools, while another 20 are pursuing different vocational training in various colleges.
Some of the children were reunited with their families or guardians through the help of the Red Cross and they spend time with their families during school holidays.
Introducing a feeding programme…
In 2013, Joy Divine began a monthly feeding programme for about 300 children in partnership with some friends from local universities and youth groups.
Fredrick mobilised many youth from different churches and universities to work as a team and make the project a success. They source for food donations, cook and feed street children during the designated feeding day. From this programme they have rescued 20 children from the streets of Nairobi who are now residents at Joy Divine.
Sports, drama, counseling, retreats and networking are other activities that the children are exposed to. These activities promote social and interpersonal relationships. They have also formed a soccer team, which plays at grounds in Eastleigh every Thursday and this helps them to interact with other children.
Recently the organisation treated 120 street children to a visit to the Village Market and gave them gifts in form of clothes and shoes as a sign of love and appreciation. Fredrick says that over 200 children have benefited, either directly or indirectly, since the organisation was started in the 2000.
“Joy Divine Children’s Organisation is reaching out to individuals, churches, companies and the government for support so as to rescue and empower more needy children. These children have abilities and capabilities, but due to poverty are not able to exploit their God-given talents. They fear the expansion of Outer Ring Road may affect the centre and are living on borrowed time. They need space outside Nairobi to relocate the home,” says Fredrick in conclusion.
SUCCESS STORY FROM BENEFICIARY…
“I was born in 1994 in Uasin Gishu County in the Rift Valley. I enrolled in Kamoiya Primary School in 2000 and did KCPE in 2007, attaining 300 marks. Our area was affected by post-election violence and our house was burnt down. I lost everything including my school documents. We were forced to live in IDP camps and any hope of joining high school faded. But an angel was sent my way through Joy Divine Children’s Organisation. I was among the 35 children rescued from our IDP camp in Limuru.
The organisation assisted me in acquiring other documents from Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) and I was admitted at Ndururumo Secondary School in 2008. The organisation facilitated my education and catered for my basic needs for the four years I was in high school.
In 2012, I sat for KCSE and attained a mean grade of B. After two years of staying at Joy Divine helping other younger boys with their schoolwork and responsibilities, God came through for me and I was enrolled at JKUAT.
I am currently pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. It has taken the hand of God to be where I am today. For the past six years I have been at Joy Divine I have never lacked anything. Today, I can testify that God has been our Ebenezer.”
Published on February 2014