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Mother to the motherless

Ruth Wanjiru runs a charitable organisation where she houses 32 children. However, her love and care for Joy Nyambura, an autistic child, stands out

Motherhood! Glorius, precious and difficult at the same time. Putting someone else’s happiness before your own requires a love that goes beyond the strands of DNA. Ruth Wanjiru Kamau knows this all too well.

A single mother of two; a son aged 27 and a daughter aged 19, Ruth runs a charitable children’s institute in Ruai where she takes care of 32 children aged between two and 19. Of the 13 boys and 19 girls in the home, Joy Nyambura stands out.

The bubbly girl with an infrectious smiule was born autistic and Ruth has been overseeing her care since August last year. Before the seven-year-old a joined the family last year, Ruth had been taking care of yet another autistic child, Beatrice Muthoni.

The then, eight-year-old was reclaimed by her maternal grandmother in 2014 having joined the home at one year after her mother succumbed to injuries sustained from an encounter with thugs who beat and raped her.

Ruth took in the child after it became clear the ageing grandmother could not cope with the needs of the ailing infrant. Not long after Beatrice had celebrated her eighth birthday and was much better, her grandmother had come back to reclaim custody of her.

“It was one of the saddest moments for Beatrice and I, but I thank God that He gave me the opportunity to take care of the little girl for seven years,” she says.

And when Nyambura joined the family last year, Ruth was more than glad to take her in. Community members rescued Nyambura and her two sisters aged five and four years and took them to Ruth after their mother fell sick and was bedridden.

“I wanted to give the children a proper home with love and shelter, where they could even interact with other children,” she says. Ruth has learnt to treasure all the little milestones that Nyambura makes. “I remember the first time Joy was able to use the washroom without soiling herself. It was such a delight seeing the accomplishment on her face,” she shares.

However, taking care of the girl, much like it was with Beatrice, has not been without challenges. Finding her school has, especially, proven a Herculean task.

She has been rejected by two institutions already because of her condition. Nyambura’s diet is also a bit different and can get a expensive. In a week, Ruth uses about Sh1,000 on her food alone.

Since she cannot eat most local fruits, sugary foods, red meat, wheat or milk, Ruth has been forced to look for alternatives with the advice of a doctor. White meat, for instance tends to be a pricier than red meat.

Although Ruth showers the pretty girl with a mother’s love as she would her biological children, she has had to shut out nay sayers. “Some people normally ask why I take care of Joy with her condition seeing that she is not my biological child.

Especially when we go to church, I see people staring at us with questions on their faces,” she says. Because Joy’s case of autism is mild, she is able to communicate most of the time with Ruth and the other children around her. She cries when she is sad, but more than anything, Joy enjoys playing with her dolls.

Ruth says she wishes that people would understand that children with autism are special and unique with hidden talents like other normal children. If supported in the right way and exposed to the outside world, she says they turn into amazingly gifted individuals.

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