Kamau was a boy in Kenya.
After his father died, Kamau and his mother were often hungry, until she married a man who became Kamau’s foster father. The foster father worked hard and he sent Kamau to school. The couple had five other children.
When Kamau was in Third Grade, Kamau’s father had been good to him, but now he couldn’t send him to school. He put him to work caring for the animals –the goats and cows. Kamau was angry. He didn’t want to care for the animals. One day he ran away to Nairobi, the capital city.
In Nairobi, he lived on the streets. He got into fights. He learned to steal. He felt alone. Sometimes he was hungry and afraid. One day,a boy told him about Peace House (name changed for privacy). He learned that to go there you had to:
1. agree to change.
2. go to school, and
3. and get along with others.
Kamau found it great for about a month. He went to school with the other boys and came right home every day. But on the street, when he stole something, he sold it to buy fried chicken. He wanted some fried chicken. One day, he said he was sick and stayed home from school.
He took the blankets from the other children’s cots. He slipped out of the house and sold the blankets. When the children came home, they were angry. The counselor advised them to come together to talk about it. They had different opinions:
- some said “good riddance”
- others said, “we have to make him know he is one of us.”
- “we don’t want fights” ( Kamau had fought on the street).
- “but his family doesn’t want him. And we are his only family.”
- “we are all cold now without our blankets. What he does, affects all of us.”
After the discussion, the boys decided to look for him and tell him he could come home. They would forgive him, but he really had to change. Before Kamau had come to Peace House, he had stolen some watches. Now the police tracked the theft to someone at Peace House. When the counselor didn't give information, the counselor was arrested and beaten.
When the boys found Kamau, they told him he could return, but he would have to listen to what they had to say. Kamau sat in a circle with them. They told him how they felt. He was one of them. And they wanted him to stay, but he had to agree to change.
The boys said he had to do something to make up for what he had done. They decided he should care for the counselor who was recovering from the beating. Kamau agreed to this. Every day until the counselor was well, Kamau carried food to him, helped him sit up, did what he could.
Kamau began to understand. He was ashamed of what he had done. He learned he was forgiven and welcome in the group. He did change. He went to school and studied hard. And one day his foster father,who had been looking for him, found him. Kamau was glad to go home. He knew his family needed him. From his friends at Peace House, he had learned what it means to belong to a family.