Cases of mothers abandoning their children in order to engage in drinking sprees have been on the rise in Nyandarua County, a trend that worries children’s welfare officers and residents.
Ol Kalou and Kinangop constituencies lead in cases of child neglect, abandonment, defilement and other child abuse-related incidents.
In Ol Kalou constituency, welfare officers say 35 abandoned children have been rescued in only two months.
In the latest incident, at Vatican Estate on Wednesday evening, residents, led by Ol Kalou Children’s Officer Mary Gitonga, rescued a five-year-old girl who had been abandoned by her mother in a rental house for three weeks.
A neighbour, Ms Martha Wairimu, said the child’s mother rented the room last month, left the home three weeks ago and has not returned.
“There are allegations that she is normally spotted in bars starting from midnight, but she is never seen during the day,” said Ms Wairimu, who has been taking care of the girl. “We do not know where she spends the day. She lied to the landlord that she hails from Nairobi, but we have since established she is from Murang’a County.”
The abandoned child raised the alarm when she went to Ms Wairimu's house crying that she was hungry and that she had not seen her mother for two nights.
“She was starving and very dirty,” Ms Wairimu said. “I gave her food and cleaned her. I have taken care of her for three weeks now. Our efforts to trace the mother have been in vain. We gave up and decided to report the matter to the children’s department.”
On Sunday, a mother of two died at Sende Moto estate in Engineer town, Kinangop constituency, after consuming illicit alcohol at a local den.
Residents said that she had a habit of waking up early in the morning to spend the entire day merrymaking in alcohol dens.
“She would report to the pubs early in the morning before making breakfast for her children or preparing them for school,” said Ruth Waruinge, a neighbour. “She has now died, leaving behind two children.”
On June 18, children’s welfare officers from Kinangop constituency arrested a mother and rescued five children she had abandoned in a rental house at the Kagera-ini market, where they lived in deplorable conditions.
The officers and members of the public found the children, aged between three and 12 years, starving and ailing when they entered the home.
They slept on the floor without beddings while their mother, who hailed from Nakuru, enjoyed herself in local pubs and at Engineer and Njabini markets.
“The three-year-old boy appeared sickly, emaciated, with severe wounds attributed to the harsh living conditions,” said landlord Mbugua Waweru.
Kinangop Children’s Officer Elizabeth Wanjira said none of the children had been enrolled in school.
Nyandarua Central Deputy County Commissioner Gideon Oyag said a crackdown was underway, targeting the children and their parents.
“I have directed the chiefs to … arrest the children and their parents.” he said. “We have arrested several parents in the last three weeks and the crackdown continues.”