Hello. My name is Victor. I am a 23 year old African, born in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. My story is not unlike thousands of other African children who remain victims of poverty, overpopulation and the Aids virus.
I grew up in a gigantic garbage dump. Walking through Kibera will assault your nostrils with the stench of raw sewage, rancid feces and rotting garbage. The eclectic odors will most likely activate your gag reflex when you suck in the hot, humid, smoky air. It is beyond belief that living in this bustling pile of refuse once seemed normal.
I lived with my mother, sister and 3 younger brothers in a mud hut about 9 feet by 9 feet. Our furnishings included a bed, a table, a bench and a large wooden box. My father died of Aids when I was 7, and my older sister was raped and beaten to death when I was 8. As the head of our household at the age of 9, I did what was necessary to provide food for my family.
My little brother and I were entrepreneurs in Nairobi. During the crowded lunch hours, we were open for business. Scanning the streets for rich tourists, my brother would single out sympathetic travelers and try to sell them pieces of worthless jewelry. With their attention focused on my brother, I would then sneak up from behind and grab their purse or wallet. Within seconds, we could seize a treasure and instantly disappear within the dense crowds.
One day, a shiny gold earring got my attention from fifty feet away. I stalked it like a leopard pursuing a baby antelope. I snuck up, reached out and yanked hard………but the earring did not come out. It remained connected to the woman’s ear and she screamed like a banshee. I held onto the precious bauble until……a man turned and started after me. The earring slipped through my fingers and I ran like a gazelle, dashing between pedestrians, around cars, through alleys……I ran hard, but this man was not your typical chubby tourist. A few moments later, he grabbed my filthy t-shirt and pulled me to the ground. We both lay panting…breathless. Cheers arose from meddling onlookers.
Dragged to a car and thrown in the back seat, I feared for my life in anticipation of the dreaded Nairobi police. There was little sympathy for a juvenile street con.
With an open hand, the policeman struck my face so hard that I flew across the room, hitting my head on the side of his desk. Piled in a heap, he approached me for a second blow. The white man caught his arm in mid-air yelling, “No more! Stop!”
I held my bloodied nose and wailed, the pain growing fiercer every moment. As my blood-soaked tears splashed onto the concrete floor, the stranger gently lifted me up by my arm. Those once-angry eyes were now filled with sorrow and compassion. After paying a bribe for my release, he put me back in the car and drove away.
With tear-filled eyes, he studied me in the rearview mirror and asked in Swahili, “Where do you live?”
I pointed towards the slum and he shot a knowing glance toward his wife. She answered the look with a shake of her head………… sadness clouding her face.
He pointed the car towards the camp, stopping short of my destination. Looking first to his wife, then back at me, he asked, “Can you sing?”
Right there, the man “auditioned” me for the African Children’s Choir. I must have passed because from that day forward, my life changed.
I was enrolled in the Music for Life program. After a few months, I traveled with a team to Uganda for 5 months of special training, preparing for an American tour. Following my return, I was given a scholarship to complete my education. My brothers and sister were enrolled in the Music program and are now on their way to becoming successful adults. I currently teach Computer Science and Swahili, and have chaperoned two choir tours in the UK.
Because a man looked at me through the eyes of Jesus, I have begun to view life through those same lenses. God has given me a heart for the people of Nairobi, and it is His heart that gives me the desire to serve and love Him by giving back to the children of my homeland.
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