My trip to Kenya '22 - Stephen and Francis Otawa
Updated: Nov 25, 2022
On the wrap up of our trip to Kenya, we went to visit two young boys who I first came into contact with last year and what an exceptional story this is.
I read an article last year whilst scrolling on Facebook about a young 14-year-old boy (now 15), called Stephen Otawa. He walked 14 kilometres by himself to Teremi Boys High to ask if he could attend the school. His father used to be a lawyer but became ill and mentally unwell during 2014. Their mother had died suddenly from an unknown cause in 2016. Their grandmother took them in with their two younger brothers. She unfortunately passed away last year. The four boys were living in an orphanage when he decided to take matters into his own hands. He didn’t tell anyone what he was doing or where he was going. I asked my team in Kenya to speak to confirm the story with Teremi Boys High School and to find out more information. We were able to track Stephen down and pay for his boarding school fees for a year. We did the same for his elder brother Francis who is now 16. Both of the boys are now in Form 2, the equivalent of Year 10 in Australia. During this trip we travelled to Eldoret and met for the first time.
At first, their body language was shy, reserved, uncomfortable and withdrawn. We had lunch together with Mama Rose (Eunice Kaburu) and her six sons who live in the area. The Kaburu brothers, in particular Edwin, have been the ones working on behalf of Gennarosity Abroad to look after the boys for us. Edwin has travelled multiple times two hours to Teremi to pay for school fees and help purchase any items they may need. I might point out that Edwin is Rose’s younger brother. He has stepped up a lot, alongside Mama Rose, to help us since Rose moved to the UK with Nic and Ramsey. Rose and Nic used to be our ground contacts for Gennarosity Abroad until their move to the UK. They have recently welcomed to the world their daughter Zola at the end of September.
After lunch, we went to Mama Rose’s other son's Boniface’s shop to buy clothes for Stephen and Francis. They only owned the clothes they wore on their backs. Edwin bought them a new top and pants the day we met so they were more presentable for us. I found this so endearing as we wouldn’t have judged what they wore. From the shops we bought them 2 new tops, 2 new pants, a hoodie, jacket, 4 pairs of socks and 4 underwear, 2 new shoes (one for school), a school bag and educational equipment. We could only get a few limited items to make sure they wouldn’t be stolen by others in the orphanage so these items will remain at Teremi when they return to the orphanage for school holidays. By the end of our afternoon together their body language changed completely.
They stood a little taller, they were smiling, they felt empowered by being able to choose their own clothing. They felt seen. Valued. Cared for. This was one of the trip highlights for me personally. They wouldn’t stop saying thank you. It filled my heart with warmth that this is a massive life changing opportunity and they are going to work hard to make the most of it. Stephen is definitely driven and motivated to make something of himself. Francis on the other hand was feeling guilty he wasn’t at the orphanage with his two younger brothers. I explained to him that by getting an education and good job, he’ll be able to provide for them a lot more than if he didn’t attend school. These are very real challenges and decisions children have to make when they step up into the role of a caregiver/guardian for their younger siblings.
We will remain in contact with the boys and track their educational journey over the next few years.
Our visit to Stephen and Francis concluded our Gennarosity Abroad work in Kenya, but in case you missed it, the day before we had a heartwarming visit to Rhonda Maternity Clinic which you can read about here, or you can start the series here to find out everything that happened on this trip.