Delivered from the Jaws of Death

By Jessica Semo & Joyce Kamau 17-05-2021

Imagine the horror of hitting rock bottom so hard, that you feel like it’s not worth living anymore with desperation driving you to contemplate killing yourself and your child! This is what happened to Elizabeth Nduku, a mother of three and a beneficiary of Hope for Orphans Rescue Centre (HOREC) in Ruai, Nairobi.

Twenty eight year old Nduku was born and bred in Kitui County, the last born in a family of four. Her father died when she was just six years old and from then, life became miserable, for her mother could not provide for the family. She dropped out of school in class three and joined her mother to make ends meet.

Nduku recalls hawking milk at a market in her village but she got dismal returns.  At sixteen years of age, she met a man who soon became her husband and the father of her first two children. The early marriage left a bad taste in her mouth, as the man was abusive and would not provide for the family. She left her home in pursuit of better opportunities.  

She met a lady from her hometown who employed her as a house help in Huruma, Nairobi. Without much thought, Nduku packed her bags and left for Nairobi, leaving her children with her mother with the promise of bringing better tidings. But like “Mwas”, a lead character in Nairobi Half-Life, a popular local film, Nduku’s experience did not match her expectations. She fell out with her employer and quickly moved in with her uncle who was living in Nairobi then. Later, she brought her children to Nairobi and got engaged in all sorts of casual jobs to make ends meet. She would alternate between washing clothes, to farm work, to bar-tending.

After some time, it became impossible to find any kind of work and Nduku lost all means of income. Her landlord threw her out of her house, and they went for days without food. “IIlifika mahali maisha ikawa ngumu sana, nikashindwa hata kulisha watoto wangu,” she says, tears rolling down her cheeks.

One day, she got tired of her situation and sent her two older children to her uncle and carried her three-year-old toddler on her back to a nearby river. Standing right at the edge of the roaring River Athi, Nduku called her mother to bid her farewell amidst screams and tears of anguish. Her troubled mother managed to calm her down and then called Nduku’s uncle who stayed nearby in Joska. The man pleaded with Nduku to shelve her plans and meet him at his house. All this time, her mother was holding frantic prayers for her daughter and grandchild. Nduku half-heartedly obliged and the uncle promised to help her pay rent among her other expenses.

It was during that dark time that Nduku met Lucy Wairimu, the instructor at the HOREC empowerment centre. Lucy begged Nduku to join the programme and persistently persuaded her to do so, until she relented.

Nduku is one of twenty-five other young mothers benefitting from the Community Centre for Hope & Empowerment (COCHE) that is facilitated by HOREC. The centre was funded, constructed and equipped by Kenya Power in 2019 to help young struggling mothers who have lost hope regain their confidence through empowerment programmes. The centre activities incorporate trainings in different fields such as tailoring, beauty, hair-dressing and beadwork. The first beneficiaries of the programme are set to graduate in August this year. The trainees have undergone positive life changing experiences and can now put food on the table. A contented Nduku believes that one day, she will own her own beauty parlour and do what she does best, hair.

“Kama umeme unavyo angaza nyumba zetu, Kenya Power imeangaza maisha ya akina mama hapa COCHE na tumeshukuru sana, Mungu awabariki” Lucy Wairimu, exclaims and then ululates excitedly.

Well-wishers and donors can support this programme. Please find more information through their website: or through their contact number 0707383000.