What you need to know:
- Antony Perez Wanjiru, a young man in Githurai has been reaching out to this community and sensitising them on the dangers of the disease.
- Although financially unstable himself, he together with his friends are doing what they can to offer help and to reach out to others for support.
The Coronavirus pandemic has spread across the globe at a magnitude we never imagined. The disease has affected many communities, with many people forced to work from home, while others have lost the source of their livelihood.
Back home, many street children and homeless people also considered part of the vulnerable community go on with their business, unaware of the dangers lurking on the streets that they call home.
Antony Perez Wanjiru, a young man in Githurai has been reaching out to this community and sensitising them on the dangers of the disease. Although financially unstable himself, he together with his friends are doing what they can to offer help and to reach out to others for support.
“I decided to mobilise people to help the street children in Githurai 45, 44 and partially Roysambu after I noticed that they were going on with life as usual. Later, when they told me about their experiences police beatings after the curfew, I advised them to look for cheap housing where they would at least be spending the night. That’s when they found a mabati shanty that houses them for Sh25 per night. Due to financial constrains we are only been able to pay for their temporary housing, get them something to eat and offer them masks and sanitisers. Some of them are underage boys and girls with children and it was painful leaving them in deplorable condition,” he says.
The young man is not new to the streets, having suffered many challenges while growing up.
“I know what it means to sleep hungry and to lack. I have faced rejection and have lost a brother due to hunger. These are some of the things that motivate me.”
Having grown up in Rwathia and under the care of a step grandmother, Antony’s early years were marred with physical and sexual abuse.
WAS ONCE HOMELESS
“When I couldn’t take it anymore, I ran away. I was housed by different people, I once lived at a children’s home and at some point was a street kid. It was difficult growing up as an orphan a lot of opportunity slipped away,” he laments.
Additionally, Antony also faced stigma as he was believed to be from a man eater society.
“Growing up, I lived among the Agikuyu community. I was believed to be a Bukusu from Abaluya, and according to them, Bukusu people are man eaters. There was little I could do to escape the stigma. I faced a lot of hostility and a lot of emotional and psychological abuse,” the young man shares of his past.
Despite the challenges Antony now a psychology student at Daystar University, is determined to change his life and that of others.
The suffering endured motivated him to become a compassionate servant leader. Antony now leads a foundation whose main aim is to support the orphans and less fortunate in society.
“The Pillar youth group is a composed of young people, some are working while others are university students. Our aim is support orphans and the less fortunate. Sometimes we receive support from well-wishers. Some of the people who have supported us include Jane Mumbi, Mary Njeri, Mama Rona, Maxie Security Limited amongst others.
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH SAVINGS
We empower ourselves through savings, and aim to start a project which can help us to establish a rescue center. We also visit different children’s homes,” he shares, adding that they have had some success stories.
“We have transformed two former street kids’ lives through a vocational training. One now works as mechanic while the other is a shoe seller. By highlighting authentic vulnerable cases of bright students through my Facebook Page (Anto Perez Humanitarian) two students received full scholarships from well wishers. Jackline Nyambura who is now in Class Seven is sponsored by Samuel Njoroge, while Edwin Kariuki a form one student is sponsored by Shiku Kaguama.”
Now with the isolation and social distancing regulations, in place, business has not been good for Antony and this has made it harder to support others.
“I am keeping with the e-learning program at school and because I don’t have permanent partners for the charity, I also sell second hand clothes and sometimes work as an Uber driver. Currently, things are tough as business is low but we are trying,” he says.
The student I now in his final year is positive about the future.
“I had wanted to study communication and had done it for a year but due to unresolved childhood trauma, I decided to study psychology. I would want to start a private firm dealing with rejection, mental disorders and sexual identity amongst teenagers. I would also want to start a rescue centre for the less fortunate, and further my education to become a clinical psychologist and a journalist.”
“I wish those who are suffering, Gods providence and protection. It is a painful season but I hope more people and government can genuinely reach out to them through the right channels.”