While in Nairobi, Jo and Frank were able to chat with Beatrice Njoroge. This is her story:
Beatrice is the youngest of 8 children and as a child, was showered with love by her parents and her siblings. Now, she has 3 grown children of her own and is able to show them the same love and kindness.
In Nairobi, she believes that there are about 60,000 street children, living rough, taking drugs and getting involved with dangerous gangs.
When she first moved there, she was really struck by just how many street children she saw. She was puzzled by these kids and why they were so unloved and she couldn’t find any peace. So, she started to get to know the kids and care for them in any simple way she could. Over time, the kids began to know and respect her. They would generally stop fighting or sniffing glue when they saw her coming.
Until one day, she saw two boys she knew fighting. Even though she went over to them, they continued to fight until one was pushed over and knocked unconscious.
At this point, Beatrice knew more needed to happen. She started to meet with a group of 15 women to try and work together to help the street children. Someone told her about “Serving in Mission” (read more here) and she was able to connect with them to help address the situation. She says there’s been ‘no turning back since!’ and has been partnering with them as a volunteer for 20 years.
Beatrice has seen that the problem begins not in Nairobi, but rather in the communities from which the kids come from.
Beatrice has learnt that many kids come from Western Province (Kenya) where there blended families are common. Sadly it is not unusual for step mothers and fathers to mistreat or simply not care for their step children. In Nyanza, as well, there is the tradition of wife inheritance. If a husband dies, his brother must marry the widow who is left behind. This too leads to problems when the wife and children can easily be mistreated. Children run away to the city to escape.
She knows lots of street kids will also come from Central Province (Kenya) – which is close to Nairobi. The children there are often tempted to come and try to make some money in the big city. The kids think they can come for a few days, make some money and return home. But the reality is, very quickly within those first 2 weeks, they realise that they need to join a street gang to survive. Such gangs are notorious for their initiations, such as sniffing glue or jet fuel or other illicit things.
The issues that are born when children are on the streets will follow them for their whole life. They miss out on learning life skills, on being loved.
Beatrice says that to tackle the problem we must go to the source. We must work with the communities from where the children come to stop them leaving in the first place. She has tried this in a number of different ways over the years and has seen some success with helping children return home, but she has struggled to get those communities to tackle the issues together.
When Beatrice heard about Life Groups and the way they work she was excited! She said, “For the work I do, this seems to be the best tool!” She believes that Life Groups can help Christians look outside the four walls of their churches and care for those around them. She is excited to share the idea of Life Groups with the communities she has connections to.
She is hopeful that the unity and action that Life Groups can create could be a game changer and help children stay safe at home.
Jo was able to give Beatrice some materials to help her get started, including The Away Kit and Plant and they’ll be keeping in touch with her to support her as best they can. They have also discussed the possibility starting Life Groups with the kids themselves while they are on the streets.
In addition to working with street children, Beatrice is also part of a prison mission and they explored together how Life Groups could have an impact in prisons!
Beatrice asks that you pray for:
- The ministries she is involved in. The need is great and can be overwhelming.
- For others to commit their time to love the street kids alongside her.
- For Life Groups to begin in the communities she is connected to and for them to make a real difference.