Former destitute street adult Patrick Hinga, whose rescue and transformation by a former schoolmate became an internet sensation, has passed on.
Hinga’s rehabilitation from the abyss of drug abuse was captured and shared step by step on social media by Ms Wanja Mwaura, a childhood friend, who also broke the sad news on Sunday.
HOW THEY MET
“With deep sorrow, I want to inform you that Hinga has rested,” wrote Wanja on Facebook, where she uses the name Faith Nganga.
“He passed on this morning (Sunday, March 17). I do not have the strength to say much right now. Rest in peace, my friend.”
In early October, 2017, Ms Wanja was on her way to the market in Lower Kabete, Nairobi, when she heard someone shout out her name.
A chance meeting between two childhood friends helped one begin a journey back from drug addiction after many years of living in the streets.
She looked up and was surprised to see a tall man with popping eyes, an emaciated frame, dirtied black overalls and when Hinga introduced himself, Wanja says she found herself in shock.
Standing before her was a friend she had known since she was seven years old, Wanja shared their story on social media.
That is how Hinga was introduced to Kenyans for the first time as a destitute man in the streets of Wangige town.
This was until Ms Wanja took him out of the streets and got him help at a local rehabilitation centre.
Born on September 15, 1983, he attended Ndararua Primary School in Kabete and sat his KCPE exams in 1998 where he scored 447 marks out of 700.
He was admitted to Uthiru High School, then a provincial school, in 1999.
Hinga’s involvement with drugs started when he was in Standard Eight when his friends introduced him to the lifestyle.
“It all began with cigarettes,” he says.
“Before we knew it, we were smoking bhang. I gave in to drugs because of peer pressure,” he told Daily Nation in an earlier interview.
Hinga and his friends would sneak to the toilets to smoke cigarettes and bhang.
When his teachers discovered that Hinga was doing drugs, he was immediately expelled.
He was in Form Two.
This was the beginning of a downward spiral towards the path of self-ruin that would see him hit the streets.
After being expelled from Uthiru, he was enrolled at Elite High School in Kayole where he dropped out due to drug use.
Kenyans were amazed by Ms Wanja’s commitment as she launched an appeal that saw Hinga undergo a rehabilitation programme at the Chiromo Medical Lane Centre.
He successfully completed the programme in May 2018 and the hospital waived a Sh149,000 bill.
In August 2018, however, it is reported that Hinga had a relapse and was spotted at Wangige market in Kabete where a few people tried to reach out to him, including her former classmate.
"It's not an easy fight. Thank you for all your support and let's not judge him harshly for his relapse. Drug addiction is a disease and relapse is a part of the process. Let's pray for him .. We did our part as the society," Mwaura's Facebook post read.
Ms Wanja did not say what caused Hinga’s death.
By Monday, words of encouragement were streaming in their thousands for Ms Mwaura for her spirited fight to save Mr Hinga’s life.
Her post on Mr Hinga’s death was received in shock and grief by thousands of Kenyans.
“You released your ability, you blessed the young man, you are a worthy woman of value…you fought a good fight for him...be strong! The good Lord be with you and comfort you at this moment of loss,” Charles Mihaki commented.
For her part, Terry Beryl Ciko said: “Do good to a person when he is alive, you did your best to support him when his life was of use to many. May God bless you for your help. Now it's so sad that he has rested, may God give you and his family comfort. Rest In Peace Hinga.”
Additional report by Valentine Obara.