See Livingstone, who used to live on the streets of the neighbourhoods where he now mentors many children, in action in this video from Tim Coleman.

Livingstone’s parents divorced when he was three. With his father gone, his mother turned to alcohol.

By the age of 11, Livingstone was spending more time on the street than in the ‘war zone’ that was home. When he was 13, he left home for good and started sleeping rough near a busy market place on the outskirts of Nairobi.

On the streets, Livingstone felt he could be free – but the reality was very different. That ‘freedom’ was a cruel illusion.

From the earliest days of this new life, mingling with other street boys, Livingstone found it very tough.

He was forced to share what little he had and he had to hand over any money he might have collected through the day. Fights between the boys were a daily part of life.

After witnessing one especially brutal fight between two boys, Livingstone says he had ‘a meeting in his own head’.

He asked himself some hard questions: When will that happen to me? How did I get here? Why was I born?
Beatrice, a Kenyan missionary working with SIM, is the coordinator of the One Child One Mentor campaign. Photo credit - Tim Coleman

Beatrice, a Kenyan missionary working with SIM, is the coordinator of the One Child One Mentor campaign. Photo credit - Tim Coleman

Beatrice Njoroge, a Kenyan mission worker who co-ordinates SIM Kenya's Children at Risk Ministries, is dedicated to making life better for street children like Livingstone.

Beatrice’s heart is clear as she reads Lamentations 2:11: My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city.

In 2015, the SIM Kenya team, along with the government, other agencies and community volunteers, launched One Child One Mentor, which is co-ordinated by Beatrice.

She said: “We aim to harvest mentors who are committed to walking alongside the street children of Nairobi. We believe the church should be at the forefront of bringing change in the lives of street children."

The ultimate goal is to reintegrate each child back home – a far from easy task when so many of the children come from rural areas beyond Nairobi.

SIM works hard to help these rural communities care for returning children by establishing targeted discipleship programmes. The more supportive a community is, the more chance there is of the child staying off the streets.

A reliable and friendly hand is needed for a child’s return journey home. Sheila, now a trained mentor, said: "With these children it's not food they need the most, but a hand.”
Sheila has been a mentor in the One Child One Mentor campaign for more than a year and has found the time challenging yet ultimately rewarding. Photo - Tim Coleman

Sheila has been a mentor in the One Child One Mentor campaign for more than a year and has found the time challenging yet ultimately rewarding. Photo - Tim Coleman

Sheila acknowledges her job is far from easy but there are rewards, both human and spiritual.

She said: “As challenging as being a mentor is, it has this other side of rewarding you in a way that is hard to measure. You see change being born and it gives you so much joy. Seeing that change is enough.”

Livingstone has been through just such a change. Soon after witnessing that brutal fight, he met his ‘rescuer’ Jacqui, who encouraged him to a rehabilitation centre. She not only gave him the basic necessities of life, but also offered him a helping hand.

Jacqui was always there for Livingstone. She stood by him, through all the highs and lows of turning his back on the street. She was always a friend to him.
Livingstone lived on the streets for a number of years while a child, but these days his life is different, working for the Kenya Scout Association and helping children that live on the streets. Photo credit - Tim Coleman

Livingstone lived on the streets for a number of years while a child, but these days his life is different, working for the Kenya Scout Association and helping children that live on the streets. Photo credit - Tim Coleman

Now Livingstone has his own home. He washes his own clothes, cooks his own food and sleeps in a proper bed.

Livingstone works as a scout leader for the Scout Association of Kenya and runs life skills workshops in schools. One of the schools he takes me to has several pupils who were once street children.

A glimpse of Livingstone’s life today is hugely encouraging. He loves God, shares his faith and earnestly desires a better life for the children he meets and those that live on the streets.

This new life is not without its challenges. Livingstone is an adult now, and, like many others, it can sometimes be tough to find the rent money. But he does everything with a smile.

Livingstone is one of the ‘lucky' ones. Many more like him have fled from similarly broken homes and been forced into a life on the streets, but never had the opportunity that he received.

The vision of One Child One Mentor is to find a rescuer for every street child in Nairobi. That’s no easy task. But with God, anything is possible.

A video for One Child One Mentor highlights the problem and the hope through Livingstone's story and is being aired across Nairobi. It is designed to challenge thousands of people in the Kenyan church community to engage with street children.
There are many children living on the streets in Nairobi. Photo credit - Tim Coleman

There are many children living on the streets in Nairobi. Photo credit - Tim Coleman

For more information about One Child One Mentor, please contact Beatrice Njoroge at kenya.childrenatrisk@sim.org.

Download a plain text version of this story

Share This: