Winnie Maganga @PeopleDailyKe
Zipporah Mugure and her boyfriend Sammy Githae aka Blackie queue for a meal at their Saa Kubwa base in Gikomba. Some Good Samaritans have brought food for street children. The lovers get their share, glad that they have a day’s meal. After all, life in the street is harsh and unpredictable.
Just last year, a Nairobi-based photographer, Johnson Muchiri of Muchiri Frames, treated them to a photo shoot on Valentine’s Day. After a makeover, the couple looked stunning.
Zipporah made many drool over her beauty. And Blackie appeared like that tall, dark and handsome man any woman would be proud to take home to meet her mother. Their photos went viral. And for a short period, the couple’s life changed.
Offers came flooding. They received presents in form of clothes and other personal items. Bonfire Adventures surprised the couple with a fully paid vacation to Diani. “We had a trip to Diani courtesy of Bonfire Adventure. We took a flight and enjoyed our stay there. It was like a honeymoon to us,” Blackie says.
They enjoyed a comfortable life when their story remained relevant on social media. But after four months, the lovebirds were back to the streets. “We only stayed in a room that Muchiri had rented us for four months. We found ourselves back on the streets because we could not afford that kind of life on our own,” says Zipporah.
According to Muchiri, his decision to have a photo shoot for the couple was out of love. His main objective was to motivate street couple and make them feel good during Valentine’s. After sharing their story online, it was well received and they got some support.
He rented two bedsitters at Mwihoko for the two each at Sh4,500 a month. “Zipporah was so categorical that they were not going to stay in the same house with Blackie because they were not married. So, I rented two houses for them as I looked for a way to make them support themselves financially,” Muchiri says.
Muchiri confirmed that he received money from well wishers and other material stuff for the upkeep of the two for sometime before they were offered a job opportunity.
“I personally took them to a school in Bomet where they were offered a job opportunity. Blackie worked as a grounds man and security and Zipporah worked as a cook and house keeper in the school,” Muchiri says.
Knight in the streets
According to Muchiri, the two did not stay for long in the job before they got back to the streets. “Zipporah stayed for only three weeks and Blackie stayed for only one month and two weeks,” Muchiri confirms.
Asked why they left, Zipporah and Blackie say they wouldn’t want to talk about it. Muchiri says street life is addictive and the two couldn’t stay at work because they missed the freedom the street offers.
Zipporah and Blackie met two years ago at Central Park, which they eventually made their matrimonial ‘home’. Zipporah ended in the streets after she ran away from her Timboroa home when she was left an orphan. Blackie, who has been on the streets since 2012, was forced out of his home while in Standard Four because he was the “black sheep” of the family.
Zipporah accepts how her life is, and though her dream career was to pursue catering, she says she would love to act.
“When I was given a chance by Muchiri to do photo shoot, I loved it. I felt like I was in the screen acting. I would love to join local TV show, Papa Shirandula,” Zipporah said in awe.
Blackie does menial jobs, but says he would love to do driving given an opportunity. “Once we are given an opportunity to do something, we will be better people in future. We will even train others so that the street family can start living like other people too,” Blackie says.
Zipporah is happy to have Blackie by her side. He has been her knight in shining armour and takes good care of her. Not all are lucky like her. Joy Wanjiru is heavily pregnant, but her boyfriend Mohamed Ali, also a street child is nowhere to be found. They broke up last year. Having a street boyfriend is a plus for street girls.
“The man will provide for you and protect you from other street children and men who take advantage of us. You know, a man can come driving, take a girl with her for some days, then when she returns, she is either pregnant or has contacted a sexually transmitted disease,” Joy explains.