What you need to know:
- In 2000, the then 15-year-old Form Two student became pregnant.
- However, the man responsible for her pregnancy, a matatu tout, turned out to be a deadbeat dad.
Growing up, 35-year-old Lucy Wambui Muraya knew that her mother did not love her. It was a hard pill to swallow but there was evidence all around her that she was not receiving the love and attention she craved from her mother.
She tried to commit suicide twice through taking poison so she could rid herself of the misery and depression she was facing.
Lucy is the sixth-born in a family of nine: five boys and four girls.
In 2000, the then 15-year-old Form Two student became pregnant. She gave birth to her son Brian. However, the man responsible for her pregnancy, a matatu tout, turned out to be a deadbeat dad.
"When Brian was nine months old, I got into a relationship with a young burglar from our estate, Jericho," Lucy narrates.
Lucy was in Form Three. She knew what he did for a living, but turned a blind eye because he provided for her.
After high school, Lucy lived with this burglar in Kayole. But in 2006, an angry mob descended on Lucy's man and beat him to death. She was widowed with her second child, a nine-month-old baby girl, Biniam.
"I returned home with two children where rejection awaited me," Lucy recalls. "Sure enough, my mom said my children and I were not welcome."
She did odd jobs, which barely met their needs. Her growing children - Brian, who was then five and Biniam, three - were suffering. Their grandmother would force them to do chores, or else they would be denied food. Lucy's father had already retired to their rural home in Kitale.
Hardship and desperation drove Lucy into the tentacles of another tout. She became pregnant with her third child.
"When I told him, he swore that it wasn't his. I wanted to abort, but I didn't have money to do so."
Lucy got shelter in a cousin's mabati salon in Mbotela Estate, where she depended on neighbours for food.
Her dad came to Nairobi and tried to convince her to return with him to Kitale, but she refused.
Reprieve came through Caroline "Ching'" Muga.
"I'd known Ching' and her husband, Victor, for several years. Ching' spoke to my mother, who allowed me to return home."
A week later, it was time for Lucy to give birth to her third child. Her mother refused to take her to the hospital and she decided to call Ching' and Victor, who rushed her to the hospital. She gave birth to her daughter, Shantell. Back at home, her mom swore that she wouldn't support them at all.
"When Shantell was a month old, I got a job with the Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative. My mother agreed to babysit Shantell under the condition that all my salary went to her pockets."
"About two years later, my mother told me to look for somewhere else to live as all my finances had dried up."
Lucy moved to a mabati shack, on a patch of land on the border of Jericho and Makadara estates. This patch is a "church belt", as different ministries have erected sanctuaries.
The shack Lucy rented belonged to the mother of an unassuming lad called Joseph Mwangi, who'd later play a supporting role in events that later unfolded in Lucy's life.
"In 2011, when Shantell was two and a half years old, my father requested me to let her live with them in Kitale. My mother had since relocated to Kitale," she says.
"After a while, I had a gut feeling that something was awry. I beseeched mom to bring Shantell," Lucy remembers.
Strangely, Shantell didn't know Lucy or her siblings, Brian and Biniam. The only name she kept calling was her grandma's.
At 3am, on the second day Shantell came home, she became gravely ill. Sadly, she passed on as she was being rushed to the hospital.
"We were in a vehicle on our way to the mortuary, when we met Mum and my elder sister. I was seated in front, carrying Shantell's body. My younger brother told them what had happened," she adds.
"They entered and sat at the back. My mother told my brother, 'Tell Wambui not to say I killed her baby'. That stuck with me to date."
Shantell was buried at Langata Cemetery. Lucy's mom vehemently vetoed their dad's decision of burying Shantell in Kitale.
Rejection can play mind games on its victim. Like pushing one into relationships to access basic needs, or to get acceptance. Or shoving a noose around one's neck.
"In 2008, I got into a relationship with a drug peddler. He was amazing until I became pregnant," Lucy says. " In an unprovoked rage, he kicked my stomach causing a miscarriage."
The vicious cycle continued. Lucy returned home.
"Mom descended on me. She strangled me with her bare hands. I thought she'd kill me. I asked her why she hated me. 'Am I not one of your children?' I asked her."
"I want to kill you," she swore.
Lucy continued from where her mum left. She ingested rat poison, but it burned her stomach lining. She vomited it. This attempt went unnoticed.
"Two months later, I contemplated killing my children, then myself. But a voice told me to spare the children," she says.
"I took a larger dose of poison. I was rushed to the hospital in the nick of time. The doctor diagnosed me with depression."
Lucy met Joseph Mwangi in 2011. His love took an unfamiliar route as he fell in love with her children first. To him, they weren't baggage but blessings. They quickly took to calling him, "Baba".
"I've heard stuff about you," Joseph shot from the hips. "But I also have a history."
In 2012, they began life in a mabati shack at the same church belt where Lucy sought refuge. In Kitale, a storm was brewing. Lucy's mom told her dad that his daughter was cohabiting with a thief.
This prompted Lucy's father to rush to Nairobi. After meeting Joseph, the old man was enamoured by his love for his daughter, and his wisdom, although he's three years younger than Lucy.
Joseph is the elder of two boys, raised by a single mother. Her mom frowned on his relationship. It was Joseph's maternal grandmother who made her change her mind.
"Wouldn't you want someone to love you with your two children? And who knows whether this girl's children will be the ones who'll save you?" the maternal grandmother had reasoned.
Joseph and the children got born-again in 2012. Lucy had heavy feet, but Joseph walked with her.
Things were rough, yet Joseph provided without complaining. They still lived in the cramped shack. The children slept on the floor but experienced peace and joy.
On 1st June 2013, at the age of six months, Faith, their first child together, almost succumbed to a bout of meningitis.
"We rushed her to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). Doctors said meningitis had reached stage 4, and there was nothing they could do."
The last resort injection, from a bold doctor, saved Faith's slipping life.
At the tail end of 2013, after witnessing her baby being snatched from the jaws of death, Lucy became saved.
In 2014, the lovebirds moved back to Makadara from Kiserian, after a job Joseph had been offered turned into a nasty joke. Brian sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams the same year.
"You guys aren't living right," Ching' put them in the know. "You need to put your union right."
Ching' was the pair's cell group leader at Lighthouse Church.
"Wedding?" Lucy asked Joseph when they were alone. "We can't afford a wedding. We have a child who's joining high school next year."
"Don't worry," Joseph replied. "God will provide for both."
At that time, Joseph was working at a printing firm, barely making ends meet.
"I requested my sister to let her child be among the flower girls, but she refused, saying her child wouldn't participate in a jubilee (mass) wedding," Lucy adds. "My mother tried to convince my dad not to attend, claiming it was a jubilee wedding. She said her folks wouldn't attend."
"Whether it's a jubilee or not, I'm attending," Lucy's dad insisted. In July 2015, two weeks to schools closing for second term holidays, Brian finally got a scholarship courtesy of Ching'; who was then a nominated Nairobi MCA.
The following month, Lucy and Joseph held a colourful wedding at Deliverance Church, Buruburu. The bride - who's the first in her family to do a wedding - was given away by her proud parents.
Afterwards, Joseph got a job with a water purifying company. Things are now looking up. The couple has another daughter, Malia, who is one year and four months old.
Forgiving her mother - and other siblings who had been poisoned against her- was a process, which Joseph helped Lucy navigate.
"I'd sworn to my husband that I didn't want to see anyone from my family in my house," Lucy says. "But he had different ideas."
The schism was fiery and fractious. The children named from their father's side of the family bore most of the brunt from their mother. But the dad didn't play favourites.
Before Lucy's elder brother passed away early this year, Joseph led him to Christ. Lucy's dad followed his son. Four days prior, he called his family, prayed for and blessed them, then transitioned in peace.
In an unprecedented act of reconciliation, Lucy's mum gave her the family's title deeds for safe-keeping.
Since childhood, Lucy wrestled with trust and low self-esteem issues.
Lucy has learnt that not all women are the same; that she can be vulnerable to women, too.
There’s an adage that, “hurt people hurt people”. But I beg to differ. Hurt people can choose to either be better or bitter. Lucy chose to be a better woman.
“My two big brothers died from tuberculosis-related complications, many years apart. When they were critically ill, and required constant attention, I remember they both clung to me, imploring me; ‘Wambui, please don’t let me die’,” Lucy says.
“It’s like they saw something in me, which only I could provide.”
And, like a true sister, Lucy looked after her brothers. But the deaths affected her. She felt like she’d let them down.
Lucy also lived with her eldest sister’s son, and treated her like her own. Her eldest sister has mental complications and, for the longest time - until his passing - lived with their father in Kitale.
Nowadays, while Joseph sells purified water, Lucy is freely pouring streams of living waters - flowing straight from her bubbly belly - into the bosoms of rejected souls.