What you need to know:
- Franklin went missing on Tuesday, June 22. He left the family’s house and went to play outside the compound with his friends and that was the last time his parents saw him.
A month-long agony for the family of James Gicheru turned into unbelievable joy after their son Franklin, who went missing on June 22, was found alive.
Their neighborhood in Nairobi’s Zimmerman estate broke into song and dance on Monday at 8pm when a frail Franklin, three, was reunited with his family.
But what still lingers in everyone’s mind is where he had been all that time?
Franklin went missing on Tuesday, June 22. He left the family’s house and went to play outside the compound with his friends and that was the last time his parents saw him.
His father was alerted by a neighbour who had seen his son walking away with an unknown woman. The neighbour thought she was a relative of the family.
“But owing to the rise in cases of children disappearing in the area, she called to make sure. Yet even before I picked up the call, the neighbour told me, the lady had already disappeared with my son,” a teary-eyed Mr Gicheru recalled.
He and his wife Loice Wamaitha thought it would not be long before they found their son. That night they were unable to sleep. It marked the beginning of a torturous period for the family – the terror escalated by grim reports about killings of children.
Lady Luck, however, smiled on the family on Monday when a neighbour, Mama Muthoni, reported she had spotted the boy at Mother Teresa Children’s Home in Zimmerman.
On a routine task to supply food, Mama Muthoni said she saw a boy who looked familiar. And his face was unmistakable as it had been published in daily newspapers, including the Nation. She reached out to the boy’s mother at 5pm.
Ms Wamaitha quickly called her husband.
“I had started giving up on my son because I had looked for him everywhere. I had talked to media houses. I have published the posters everywhere. Then I receive a call from my wife informing me that my son had been found. I was lost of words,” Mr Gicheru recounted.
The couple hurried to Mother Teresa Children’s Home.
‘’I saw my boy looking at us and he asked if we had come for him. I could not believe my baby was standing in front of me,” Ms Wamaitha said as tears streamed down her cheeks.
The couple were, however, informed by officials at the centre that they could not release the boy yet until they obtained a letter from the Kasarani Police Station.
It turned out that a woman had dropped off the boy at the police station saying she had found him wandering in Githurai 45.
Interestingly, although Franklin’s parents had filed a missing-person’s report at the police station, the officers who received the boy never immediately recognised him.
The officers had taken the boy to the children’s home.
“We went to the Kasarani Police Station. The police officer on duty told us that they did not recognise Franklin. The police told us that the woman who had dropped off the boy referred to him as Kinyanjui. She told the police that she picked him up in Githurai 45 as he was lost. The lady then disappeared,” Mr Gicheru recalled.
At home, Franklin asked his mother for hot cocoa. The boy gulped the drink quickly and glanced at his mother, signaling for more.
He appeared distressed, tired and his face was full of mosquito bites.
A doctor who examined the boy said he had injuries in his mouth, his teeth were loose and he had apparent mosquito bites.
But Ms Wamaitha is glad her baby is back home. “Thank you very much to the media who covered my story. Thanks to the public who helped in the search for my son. God bless you so much.’’