I was among the first lucky ones to get a sponsor, and when I did I had a new family — the Pendleton Browns from Atlanta, Georgia.
Every Saturday I attended the Compassion Saturday program. When I was first enrolled I knew for sure the weekly meetings would interfere with my soccer time, which was also on Saturdays. But when sports were introduced I became comfortable with the idea of attending.
As a kid, I often played at the dumping site and scavenged for edibles that the various companies and airlines disposed of at the site. My friends and I named the dumping site “Chombo.” Chombo is a Swahili word meaning machine.
We named the dump “Chombo” because we found biscuits disposed of by factories that the machine did not cut into the correct shape. Most boys ended up not going to school, but found a home in “Chombo.”
Not many kids made it to high school in my neighborhood, basically because of two reasons; one, to make it to high school, there is a national exam that one has to take. Passing this exam is not easy as such, and if one never makes it in the exam, then there is no place for him or her in high school.
Another reason is that, even if some make it in the exam, they fail to join high school because they cannot afford the school fees.
I thank God for Compassion because it ensured that my school fees were paid for in high school. My sponsor family also encouraged and believed in me, hence I did so well in my exams and joined a government high school.
Some of the kids I grew up with did not get the opportunity to join high school. Most boys went into drug addiction and to nurse their drug addiction, they turned to crime.
Ladies turned to prostitution, and most of them had babies as early as 14 years old.
I saw more than 15 boys I grew up with either being shot down by the police or being stoned to death by mob justice. The community was just fed up with crime and took the law into its own hands.
An event that turned my life is when I saw one of the young men I grew up with and even shared classes with being chased down the streets. Later, the crowd caught up with him, stoned him to death, and set his body ablaze.
I later learned that this young man had stolen an electronic gadget worth maybe less than $100. It saddened me seeing my friend die in the hands of an angry mob.
For a long time I blamed myself for not sharing my faith with him. I resolved to join an evangelism and discipleship class in church popularly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. Here I had opportunity to learn how to share my faith and I saw my friends come to Christ, though some rejected.
By the time I had completed high school, I did not know what the next step would be for me, because in Kenya at the age of 18 years I was due for graduation from the Compassion program and that was it.
For sure, high school education alone could not help me achieve my dreams. I became sad. I really had the desire to proceed with my education, but I knew without the help of Compassion I was not going to make it.
One thing surprised me, though; I did well again in my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams. I became a role model in my community, and I often had parents send their kids to me to talk to them.
I had an interest in teaching kids in church; I found it fun singing with 8- and 9-year-olds and teaching them Bible stories. I also continued sharing my faith in the neighborhood through door-to-door evangelism.