In 2014, Emily Wanjiru, then six, hogged the headlines after she recited a poem, Mvua Hii, that left the spectators, including President Uhuru Kenyatta in stitches.
So moved was the President that he awarded her an academic scholarship as well as a lifestyle overhaul, promising to move her and her family from the slums to more accommodating quarters.
Wanjiru’s dream of a future away from the destitution she was born in began to materialise when she was enrolled in St Petroc Premier Boarding School in Embu.
The family was also moved to a new house in Juja. However, that is all crumbling away and according to Wanjiru’s grandmother, Serah Nduta, trouble started six months ago when the two-year lease on their Juja house expired and they were kicked out by the landlord.
Wanjiru’s mother, who is sickly, took off when the problems became unbearable leaving three children in Nduta’s care.
“One of the landlord’s children said the house doesn’t belong to (President) Uhuru, Itumbi or the media. Your tenure has ended and you will have to vacate,” she said.
She says after that confrontation, they were moved to a run-down house in Kiambu’s Indian Bazaar and were promised that water and power would be fixed soon.
She said that was the last time she heard or saw the Team Uhuru and efforts to reach Dennis Itumbi, the digital director in the Presidency and her contact with the Presidency, have proved futile.
“In a day, I call him severally, but each time I only get a text message that he is in a meeting,” the grandmother, who collects and sells plastic bottles for a living, claimed. She adds that she has been served with an eviction order by the Kiambu government for rent arrears in her new home.
With three grandchildren under her care, Nduta said Wanjiru confided in her that as much as she loves education, she is not willing to go back to the Embu school because of alleged “constant bullying due to poverty”.
“Since I can’t afford to visit her or pick her from school, she is forced to remain in school during mid-term breaks, and watch other pupils during visiting days.
I cannot even afford shopping for her at the beginning of term, only fare and a pencil,” she said. The family is now appealing for the intervention of their benefactor, President Uhuru.