Njunguna calm, but confident pulls a chair for me during the interview. He came across as shy, but once we started talking I withdrew that thought fast. I thought to myself, "This is going to be an interesting chat." His story is one of the major milestones for LID initiative and as the 21 year old begun to narrate his story boldly, I was intent on discovering more about him.
As a young boy growing up, Njuguna would not have imagined that one day he will be living on the streets without the comfort of a home and parents to support him. He describes his childhood with his three siblings in a family as short lived; they only enjoyed the comfort of a stable home for a short while, before their parents got divorced in 2001.
He recollects painfully how he ended up living with his mother and maternal aunt who were alcoholics and ended up mistreating them. As a result he was forced to drop out of school together with his siblings even though he was barely in class one. Joseph was forced to grow a thick skin and look for ways to protect his siblings from the unstable and stressing environment they were in. "This is when the idea to join the streets seemed way too intriguing for me to ignore," he said with a cheeky smile. He affirmed that they had found comfort in Eastleigh 12th street where they decided to make a home for one and half years.
While living on the streets, Njuguna attended the monthly events (fellowships) organized by LID. He attended several fellowships and one of the patrons noticed something different with Njuguna.
Njunguna didn’t sniff glue and he tried to clean up most times. In 2002, LID started supporting him and the first step was reconciling him and his siblings to their relatives who reside in Gatundu South.
"In 2004, we managed to go back to school, although my sister stayed home since she was epileptic. Then we were all living with our grandmother and I enjoyed going back to school," says Njuguna. However, things took a different turn in 2006 when his grandmother passed away, he said. Njuguna and his siblings were divided amongst their relatives to find support for their education. Njuguna and his brother were taken to live with their uncle.
They continued with their education, although his brother dropped out and later accompanied his uncle to the city where things took a different turn and he ran back to the streets. Meanwhile Njuguna was continuing with his education and sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary School examination in 2010 and scored 330 marks out of 500. He was later enrolled at Ituru High school.
"While living on the streets, I always had visions and dreams of going back to school. Even though it was a far fetched dream, I used to enjoy daydreaming that I am in a school uniform. Joining high school was more than a dream come true for me, and my stomach was busy somersaulting the minute I stepped through Ituru high school gate," Njuguna recounts. He revealed that his high school experience was marked with his participation in the Christian union at which point he decided to embrace salvation. He was later chosen as the captain in the school and his term ran for two years. Njuguna decided that he was not going to let his past dictate his future. Through hard work and sheer determination Njuguna completed his A-level education and achieved a mean grade of B- with 59 points. Later he was able to enroll to study computer and driving course while he waited to join university.
Evidently Njuguna has had a fair share of challenges, but he is grateful to God for bringing LID to his aid. He says he would like to study civil engineering although he did not make the cut off points. For now, he has decided that he will study actuarial science at Jomo Kenyatta University and hope that someday his dream to become a civil engineer will come true.
Njuguna recollects painfully that the genesis of his problem started at home, and was started by the people he trusted the most and whom he thought were his safety net. He encourages the young people to trust in God, who will fulfil his purpose in their lives.
"I appreciate LID initiative and I pray that God will continue using LID to bring hope to more children like me, lost and abandoned to fend for themselves," he says.
Indeed as Nikos Kazantzakis a Greek writer once said, in order to succeed we must first believe that we can, Njuguna’s story is a true depiction of this.
Love in Deed continues to go out to the streets and most of all, spreading the good news to the hopeless. They reach out to the young and old living in the streets, giving them hope and showing them love.
Njuguna is among many youths that have been rescued from the streets and reintegrating into the society. We all need Love, and it is in such environments that people thrive. This is one of the major principles that Love in Deed embraces.
The LID fellowship takes place every third Saturday of the month, where 50-150 children and youth from the streets are hosted. During the fellowship water and soap is provided for those willing to take a bath, and a shaving machine for those who need a haircut. A meal is shared with them, and also Bible Study sessions are held in small groups.