When photos of an Administration Police officer– Ms Dorris Wako – sharing a meal with at least 16 street children surfaced on social media on Monday, she did not know her act of humanity would have attracted a lot of praise and support from different quarters.
This is simply because for many years, the police department has been associated with corruption and extra-judicial killings that have eroded the relationship between the law enforcers and the public.
When not extorting motorists, police have always battled assault or brutality cases reported by suspects upon arrest, bluntly denying them right to protection.
It is for these reasons that legislators and rights groups have called for police reforms in a bid to restore sanity in the disciplined force that has on several occasions come under sharp scrutiny.
HELP FOR STREET CHILDREN
But despite the many shortcomings of the police force, there still exists some like Ms Wako who care for the less-privileged in the society.
The Busia-based AP officer uses her meagre salary to help the underprivileged in the society.
Ms Wako’s noble gesture has won her admiration from many Kenyans who have shared on social media photos of her helping street children.
She developed a touch for street children in February 2017.
She told journalists recently that, at first it was difficult to bring them close to her since they used to run whenever she appeared, thinking they would be arrested.
The street families have camped at the Kenya Uganda buffer zone in Busia.
DANCE AND JOKES
“I resolved to use dance and jokes to entice them. However, the idea to teach them karate was an instant crowd puller. They would come and say, “Sasa afande, si hata utununulie maji,” (Please officer buy us some water) and I would agree by offering roasted maize which they would share,” said the mother of one.
With time, Ms Wako revealed, the number had increased from two to 12.
To effectively distribute sweets, meals and clothes, the group of street children showed her their leader, only identified as Sowedi.
“Sowedi told me that if I had something for them, I should channel it through him for fair sharing since they used to fight over the same. From my salary I have been able to spare some money for food and clothes,” Ms Wako.
Ms Wako further revealed that she has been facing numerous challenges balancing between her work and maintaining her links with the street children.
But after discussing her passion for the children with her boss, Sgt Joyce Nasambu, she was allowed her adequate time to interact with the children.
“I report here every evening after my official duties. I always find them here waiting for me and once I arrive they start shouting mathe, mathe (mum, mum). I occasionally buy them soap though their bias is towards meals,” the AP officer said.
She added that she only skips meeting her new-found “family” when she travels to Nairobi to attend to her five-year-old son who developed a complication of the oesophagus after birth and has to be taken to Kenyatta National Hospital every month for check-up.
“When I am off duty in Nairobi, my boss Sgt Nasambu takes care of them. She sometimes donates Sh2,000 towards my support kitty. In a day I spend at least Sh400 for meals alone.”
EMBRACE STREET CHILDREN
The officer urged the society to embrace street children instead of looking at them as a nuisance.
“The challenges these children are facing can be solved. Being at the border, most of them are used for cheap labour, illegal business or criminal activities. Most of these children just need guidance and counselling to leave the streets even though results may not be instant,” she said.
Ms Wako said she welcomes support from well-wishers to see the children access basic needs.
Already, a non-governmental organisation – Harvest of Hope Africa – has pledged to work with her.
Fredrick Ojiambo, the organisation’s director, said the officer’s rare gesture prompted him to rally his group behind her.
“When I saw the photos online I immediately inquired for her number requesting to support. We have verified today that what we saw online is indeed the reality on the ground.
“From now henceforth, we have pledged to support this initiative started by Dorris. We donate food, clothes, assist some to go back to school and if possible reconnect them with their families,” said Mr Ojiambo.
One of the beneficiaries of Ms Wako’s kind heart, Kevin Owino, who has been on the streets for over three years, thanked the officer for her good gesture.
“She buys us food and occasionally brings us clothes. Frustrations pushed many of us to the streets but I hope to leave this life very soon,” said Owino who hails from Bumala in Butula Sub-County.
His colleague, Steven Onyango, (now reformed) said he was counselled by an assistant chief to leave street life and now want his friends to follow suit.
“These are like my brothers. I feel bad when I see them sleep hungry without food and a place to call home. I thank madam Dorris for lending a hand.”