Finding Home at Hamomi by Mercy Muhonja
Mercy’s discovery of hope, happiness and healing at Hamomi.
“Although my parents loved each other, my father didn’t have a job, and they couldn’t survive on their love.”
My name is Mercy Muhonja. My birthday is January 18th, 1999 in Kangemi, a ghetto in Nairobi. When I was born my parents, Gladys and Joseph were still together. My mother was 24 years, while my father was 29 years. After delivering me, my mother was held in the hospital because she didn’t have money, instead of being discharged. Father had gone to look for some money to pay the hospital fee. My mother had to stay in the hospital for several days before my father arrived with the fee. Although my parents loved each other, my father didn’t have a job, and they couldn’t survive on their love.
My father did anything that came his way; constructions sights, cleaning and gardening. He really worked hard to keep his family fed. Father came home one evening and said he was leaving for Mombasa. He had got a construction job there. I was six months old. Mother said it was not a good idea to leave her and the baby (me) alone in Nairobi. But father argued that mother had her sister nearby. And so father went to Mombasa, promising to come back for a visit in two month’s time. Our landlord had to wait for his money. When the time came he failed to arrive. Mother thought it was just a small delay. Any time she would see his big black face grinning at her with affection. They had been in love for years. You see she had been his girlfriend of many years and he had been her first love. His delay stretched into two months.
“But she waited and waited and finally she knew he was never coming back to her”
We had been abandoned! Mother says at first it was hard to believe. She kept waiting and hoping. She kept herself busy by finding cleaning jobs and washing clothes for people. At some point she started counting days like she knew the day he would return. But she waited and waited and finally she knew he was never coming back to her.
The landlord turned us out of the house, confiscating our little furniture and father’s beloved Panasonic radio for his rent of four months. We went up-country to my father’s parents and told them the turn of events. They sympathized with mother and tried to comfort her as best as they could. Grandmother was not happy about the lack of news of her son. All had to wait for him to show up. It became the longest wait of their lives. I joined Nursery School at 5 years. During the wait, mother had given up on him.
One afternoon I came back from school to everyone in a celebratory mood. The prodigal son was back! Father and mother re-united again. His absence was explained simply like this: The job in Mombasa had been fake. His friend had deceived him because he had needed company while he hustled for a job in Mombasa. So together they had done many small jobs that required saving their earning for a long time. But why four years? No answer. Guilt, perhaps. When the celebration ended, it was time for my father to go back to work. He said he was not going back to Mombasa. He had many problems and low pay in Mombasa. So he went to Nairobi instead. He still had a friend in Nairobi who would help him. Mother said father had changed. He now drank alcohol and had developed a temper. He had tried his best to hide these things but mother had noticed and could not be deceived. Mother had wasted her hopes in him.
Finally father left for Nairobi, promising to be back in three months. He wasn’t sure of finding a job within that time. Six months later we were still waiting. By then I was in grade 2. At the end of the year, a friend of my grandparents came and said that he had been with my father in Nairobi and knew where he lived.
“It’s like a home, not a school. I am happy at Hamomi.”
My mother was ready to give up and go back to her parents. But this man insisted that she should be patient. But mother was adamant, and gave him a message for my father saying, “It is over.” The man said he would not bear such messages. The only way he could help was to take mother and all her 3 children using his own bus fare to Nairobi and face father and show him his responsibility. My grandparents agreed with him and so we 3 girls and mother were on our way to Nairobi. When we got there, father was embarrassed. He tried to apologize to us, but clearly he was not sincere. He came home sometimes drunk.
Then father and mother started quarrels regularly. One day Father hit Mother so hard that she fell down. She was bleeding from somewhere on her face. From that day she changed her attitude. She was rarely happy. She talked to people and made friends with some women who were self-reliant. A week after that incident of being hit, she found a friend who agreed to put us up. We quietly moved out of Father’s room while he was out drinking. A few days later someone gave Mother a cleaning job. She found her own room and paid for it by herself.
A few months later she came home with a visitor, a lady. That lady talked about a school her daughter was attending. The school was Hamomi. I joined grade four in 2008. I have never had a reason to leave Hamomi all this time. It’s like a home, not a school. I’m happy at Hamomi.
God Bless Hamomi.