“I was begging on the streets because there was no food at home,” Edward Ekadeli remembered. He told me the story of his childhood as we sat together beneath the hot African sun.
I met Edward last month in Kitale, a city in western Kenya. At the time, I was visiting our Cross Catholic Outreach partners in the field. Edward’s family is originally from the Turkana region, a desolate, drought-ravaged part of the country marked by hunger and violence. They fled to Kitale in hopes of improving their lives, but quickly realized life was no better in the crowded slum camps occupied by thousands of other Turkana refugees. Widespread alcoholism, disease and poor sanitation made the slums an especially dangerous place for children. With no form of employment available for their parents, so many children like Edward ended up on the streets instead of in school, inundated by desperate poverty and its’ associated dangers.
“Then, when I was 8 years old, I met a social worker from St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Centre,” Edward recalled. The social worker provided him with an opportunity to leave life on the streets and pursue an education. “So, I went to the center and received food. When I joined, I was able to go to school and then I began to do very well academically.”
St. John Bosco’s rescues poor children like Edward Ekadeli from the slum and brings them into a two- to three-year recovery program, enrolls them in school and, when possible, reintegrates them back into their families. Once Edward joined the program, the trajectory of his future completely changed.
“Now I’m 26 years old and I will earn my degree in secondary education at the end of this year,” he said. “I am very thankful to the center for supporting me from a child until now.”
Grateful for the impact the program has made on his life, Edward has spent the past 10 years helping other children rehabilitate after life on the streets by leading English and Bible classes, as well as various extracurricular activities, at the center.
“Even when I finish university, I will either continue teaching here or give back to the center in some other way. Most of these students come from very poor families. I want to see them succeeding in life like myself.”
I saw firsthand how the compassionate gifts of our supporters are impacting some of Kenya’s most vulnerable children. Thank you for reaching out with the love of Christ—you are raising up young people, like Edward, who are now acting as Christian witnesses and agents of positive change in their community!