On waking the other morning I went about my usual routine; coffee, then read the news. For me, as an expat, this consists of first checking the local New Zealand news on stuff.co.nz. Here I am usually greeted with a cheery tale about either a rugby star, earthquakes or domestic abuse. Then Kenya, the Daily Nation where the story typically consists of trials in The Hague or the antics of Al Shabaab. Then BBC to catch any actual international news that has managed to slip the radar of Kiwi and Kenyan news reporting….and then the most socially important; the Facebook news feed.
Facebook confronted me with a rather dreary story this week. A local friend reported the following story; On Wednesday evening a young woman was headed home after an evening out with friends. She had been at a local club Taidy’s and had opted to take a piki (motorcycle taxi) home. En route, the driver stopped, threw her off the vehicle, raped her and then doused her in battery acid. She passed away in the early hours of the morning in hospital leaving two young ones behind.
Of course no one has any idea who the piki driver was. He probably went home. Disposed of his acid splashed clothes, and went to sleep. No one the wiser. And realistically, he’ll repeat the whole thing again at some point, because no one caught him.
Meanwhile the children of the victim would the next day be somehow notified Mummy had died. If they have grandparents they’ll be passed onto them. If not, or if the grandparents can’t afford them, they’ll be bounced about the social welfare system for a few months, probably have to spend time in juvenile hall in the process, and wind up in a children’s home. And they’ll be expected to take it all on their chin. Surrounded by masses of children in not dissimilar situations. Once in a home, of course, they’ll be loved, fed and surrounded by a mass of new siblings. But no child should have to have this start in life. And it all came down to one asshole on a piki in the middle of the night.
What broke my heart the most about this story was how real it made the stories of our own little ones. I work with 200 wonderful children, most of whom have lost parents due to illness (HIV, TB) or violence (domestic, sexual or political). Day to day it’s easy to forget how and why they all came to be here. Imagining even one of my little ones here having to go through that kind of heartbreak destroyed me, and the saddest part is, everyone of them has gone through that.