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The Case of Karen: SHE HAS MADE OUR FAMILY WHOLE

Karen, a 7 year old girl and her brother Peter were raised by a single mother in Nyahururu town. Their mother survived on menial jobs but was not a responsible parent. She used to drink and sometimes remain away for many nights, leaving the children alone. That is why the children went to the streets and learnt the art of survival.

One day, a volunteer approached Karen and Peter and talked to them about joining Saint Martin rehabilitation Centers and they agreed. The volunteer contacted the staff of the programme and arrangements were made to take Karen into St. Rose Girls Centre and Peter into the boys Drop in Centre. The two children joined the centers and were happy for a while. Nevertheless they were very attached to each other and the separation in different centers was more than they could bear. Three weeks later, they met during joint centre activities and agreed to leave and return to the streets.

This time it was much harder on the streets. The weather was hostile and the hunt for food was more difficult. At one time, Karen was trapped by a big street boy who wanted to rape her. Her brother was too small to defend her, but she called out to passersby who rescued her. This was her turning point. Karen was re-admitted to the Girls Centre where she underwent a 6 month rehabilitation process after which she was reintegrated with her grandmother.

Rigorous efforts were made to prepare Karen's mother, grandmother and uncle to receive her back and jointly support her. Unfortunately, this failed when both Karen's mother and uncle died in short succession within two months of her re-integration. Karen then dropped out of school and was on the way back to the streets when her volunteer contact person intervened and she was re-admitted in the girls Centre. A foster parent was found for her and she was re-integrated in Nanyuki, 200 Kilometres from her grandmother's home. She is now happy and has regained her previously lost sense of belonging and self worth. The family that fostered her has found a new happiness in welcoming Karen to be one of the 3children in the home. Though their income is low, they are happy to share what they have with her. "She has brought us what we needed most", her foster mother said during a home visit. "She has made our family whole".

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