By Henry Onyango
In Kibiko estate at the foot of Ngong hills a woman is struggling to perform a role most women will shy away from. Her role is caring for the little children whose parents have either abandoned or are deceased.
Dimina Khasiala Kahi, 52 left her house help job she did for 20 years before meeting the maiden role of taking care of the orphaned children .She is currently the director and founder of Tunza children’s center based in Ngong.
Mrs. Kahi says that she never planned to own a children’s home at any one time but it was only by fortune that she found herself into the activity that has helped many abandoned children in coming from several parts of the country get a feeling of what their mother failed to offer.
She narrates how one early morning back in 1997 before going to work in Westlands she saw and fetched a brown carton covered with polythene sheets all over at the dumping site near her place at Kibera’s Makina estate. She had no idea that what she was going for could be an abandoned smiling baby girl.
“On seeing the cartoon I felt like it was just the ordinary wastes from the households but on a closer look I saw the carton shaking, I realized it must have been a human being dumped”, says Mrs.Kahi in Swahili.
She then reported the matter to the area chief in order to trace the mother of the child who was most likely seven months old. The chief carried out his own investigations to know where the baby could be coming from to no avail.
The next day, she contacted the chief again but was advised to stay with the young baby girl until such a time when they would have found the legitimate owner.
In the process of taking care of the child, she lost her house help job at Westlands. At this point she knew her dwindling destiny and the challenges of life she had been evading all the years had come. Taking care of the child and his two children at the slums at such a time when she never even had a job made her think that her husband, Hudson Kahi would not accept not even hear of it.
Hudson Kahi too was not well off financially though he was able to raise his family with the little income he got from his security guard job.
After adopting the child and losing her job, Mrs. Kahi love for children continued even further. She started collecting children and singing for them at the Makina bus terminus in Kibera. To her dismay the number continued swelling daily .She thought that something must have been amiss. The children were not attending school.
Mr. Hudson says his wife’s love for children is far beyond his understanding. Most people in the area term the couple as Tunza family.
“The doctor even advised her not to be so much concerned of the children since they suspected it could have resulted to her deter rioting heath status”, says Hudson a father of three
Madam Tunza as she is commonly known says that she decided to think of away she could assist the many children who were now under her custody as a ‘singer’. Though in her lifetime she had never stepped inside a classroom, education became her utmost priority in life.
So one morning while in the process of looking for someone to assist ‘her children’, she met a young lady who had just done her final fourth form exams who would later come to be a teacher at Tunza children’s centre.
At Makina area in Kibera slums, Tunza Children’s center was born with a population of only fifteen children. The objective being helping the orphaned and abandoned children get education and proper healthcare. Currently over 138 children enjoy the motherhood of madam Tunza at the child orphanage.
They operated without any license from the children department until in 2005 when they got a formal license. Since then they have continued to pursue their mission with zeal.
Four young women from Canada have joined hands to form the long list of volunteers in the center.
The Kibera -based children’s center hit the headlines during the infamous 2007-2008 polls after it was flooded with children whose parents had escaped fighting from the slum center.
Several journalists from both local and international media were based at the centre. A video footage of the story about the organization which was aired in CNN is what attracted the attention of an Irish Patrick Colonell. He travelled to Kenya in 2009 and assisted in purchase of land to help in settling the ever increasing number of orphaned children in the centre alongside an NGO, Global Volunteers Network (GVN)
The construction took approximately four months and on August 2009, the orphanage relocated to Kibiko area in Ngong estate leaving their Kibera base for other logistical operations and to take care of a few children at the slum area access basic primary education at an affordable rate.
However her appeal is to well wishers and the government to step and offer assistance to the centre due to increased number of children being left without parents after their parents have died due to HIV/Aids or are thrown away by some irresponsible parents.
She says that at times raising money to pay salary to his expansive 19 -man employee circle becomes so uneasy.
Most staff though, operates on voluntary basis and a stipend to sustain them is often offered by the institution.
Mrs. Kahi’s simplicity may make one think that she is just an ordinary mother but her authority stumbles upon the centre. When she comes to talk to us one is not sure whether she is the right person we are looking for.
Stephen Opere, deputy teacher at the Kibera Tunza centre says that the teaching staff is often so committed to give the best of what they have so as to help the orphaned children get access to basic education.
“We are not so deeply soaked into getting more cash here our interest is simply to offer our best and leave the children satisfied”, says Migori Teachers Training College student in deep hoarse voice.
He says he had to drop from college due to lack of school fees and so he got himself into the teaching job at the centre that which he says he loves doing.
Today the centre boasts of assisting a large number of students pursue their education till form four through donations they get from well wishers.
One of the students, Hilton Mutai Kipng’etich is pursing Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory at Kenyatta University in Nairobi whereas Douglas Omwega is a diploma student in tour operations at The Centre for Tourism Training and Research based in Nairobi.