HVG Stories : Joseph
The commercial sex trade industry makes up almost 90% of Maai Mahiu’s economy. 90% - think of what your own town or city would look like if any industry - good or bad - had a monopoly like that.
No person remains untouched by this statistic in the small, Kenyan town. Prostitution cripples not only the lives of women in the community but also the lives of their children and families. Just as poverty often leads to prostitution, prostitution often leads to vulnerable and at-risk children, and thus, begins a vicious and relentless cycle of despair. Rift Valley Fellowship Church (RVF) recognized the need to support and stop this cycle by providing for the basic needs of street children when they first started a feeding program several years ago.
Joseph was one of the first children to go to the RVF feeding program.
After his parents divorced, Joseph became a runner, an integral job in the success of the commercial sex trade industry. Runners are most often street boys (but more and more frequently also street girls) who run between prostitution houses and the truck stops.
“Food was difficult to get,” he says. Joseph went without shelter and had to drop out of school early. But through RVF, he began to attend church services and eventually stayed at Way of Hope, a boy’s home started by RVF and HVG in 2015. Way of Hope allowed Joseph to complete his secondary studies and now, Joseph helps run the Home and look after the boys.
“When I was in the street, I could not pay the rent or get food,” Joseph says. “But now, I’m able to rent a house and food is not a problem and having clothing is not a problem for me.”
While the most apparent changes for Joseph have been physical and financial, his joy abounds because of the security he has found through the RVF community and due to the changes he now sees in the boys under his care.
“When I see the boys in Way of Hope, their lives
changed as I am now.”
Joseph also recognizes the benefit in the counseling and recovery programs offered by RVF both of which have been integral for him, his mother and now the boys he mentors.
The most significant needs for street children in Maai Mahiu continue to be food, shelter, and education, says Joseph. He is hopeful that the new Way of Hope Home, which will not only be much bigger but also will be located outside the city limits, can provide more opportunities for street boys to receive the attention and love that they need away from the day to day difficulties and demands they face on Maai Mahiu’s bustling highway.
Joseph’s job demands empathy in it’s purest form and fortunately, that’s a skill this young man has due to his own experiences. Joseph starts his day in the evenings when he joins the boys after their school day. He acts as a mentor, housekeeper, manager and rule enforcer all at once. He is responsible for the boy’s safety and works hard to encourage the 12 boys currently living at Way of Hope as well as form relationships with other street kids.
Joseph is hoping to continue his education and is looking at starting a university program this next year. Someday, He also hopes to have a family of his own and take good care of them, a responsibility we are sure he is quite well-suited for.
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