Damaris Adhiambo’s grand retirement plans centred around constructing a rental apartment on a plot she had acquired in the heart of Soweto slums in Kayole, Nairobi.
A five-storey building, similar to many in the crowded Kayole concrete jungle and home to many in lower income bracket, would generate enough income for comfortable livelihood for Adhiambo and her only blood child, Emily Alum. “I had visualised a comfortable retirement. Housing is lucrative in this area. Rent is assured.
The income would be more than enough for the two of us,” she said. But fate had other plans for the 55-year-old former employee of NAS Airport Services at JKIA. One mid morning, she honoured a summon by a Kayole provincial administrator.
“The administrators often consulted me for advise on matters going on around the area. This particular day, a toddler had been dumped in the area and the administrator did not know what to do.
He pleaded with me to take the child home with me as they figure out a way out,” Adhiambo re-calls. The Sh100 in her pocket was meal enough for herself and her one child. Another mouth was bound to complicate the budget.
Still, Adhiambo succumbed to the persuasion by the district officer. It was the first seed to starting a home for destitute children, as the facility continued to expand. Today, 13 years later, nearly 100 children stay at the Soweto Slum Good Samaritan Childrens’ Home. The kids regard each other as sister or brother and share a single parent they all call mum.
“She is the only mum known to me. This, too, is my home. When I complete school and start earning, this is the place I will always return to,” says 19-year-old Winnie Wairimu. Adhiambo’s philanthropy was not a spur of the moment thing, however.
She was following in the foot prints of her parents, Garishon Abonyo and Margret Abonyo who rendered exemplary community service and also built a school in her rural home in Migori. But she says the major compulsion to help needy kids comes from the Bible.
“Upon retirement, God spoke to me and instructed that I devote my other half of my life to destitute children. I obeyed the voice,” she said on a day Simlaw Seeds general manager, David Kiplagat delivered a donation of food stuff and clothing worth Sh200,000 to the home.
Kiplagat pledged his company’s support to feeding the children in a bid to ease the challenge of raising a monthly budget of Sh140,000 the home needed. He also encouraged locals to assist such homes. “Looking up to foreigners to assist is not good enough. Kenyans have plenty to offer to others. This mother of these children needs regular support,” he said.