A HOME AT
The story of Mike Kipyatich
It was another day just
like the day before. Kipyatich did not go to school. He was hungry and tired, and still feeling the pain of his beating yesterday. He knew his
father and mother would be home very soon, drunk and angry and violent as they always are after drinking too much in the local bar. He decided to hide and hope they did not see him
when they returned. But they did not return. Night came, and still they had not come. There was no food to eat, again, and in spite of the
hunger pains in his tummy, Mike fell into a fitful sleep.
“Get up, you lazy boy!
Cook us some food!” It was father, still drunk and still angry. Kipyatich looked out the tiny window above his bed, and saw that the sun was just beginning to
lighten the Eastern sky. It was early, too early to go to school, and there was no food to cook. There was a soft breeze blowing, carrying the voices of happy
children and mothers o their way to the field, hoes slung over one shoulder. Then he made up his mind. He was not going to wait for another beating
today. He would run away, and find food for himself. He would beg on the streets of the town nearby where farmers and missionaries came to buy and where there
were others like himself, who knew how to survive.
As quietly as possible,
Kipyatich, got up from his sleeping mat and moved toward the outside door. Only inches away his father lay sound asleep again. His mother lay under a torn
blanket that hardly covered her sleeping figure. It reminded Kipyatich of the poverty and trouble of the family and he was glad that he had decided to leave. He
might come back someday, but for now he had to find a way to survive the beatings and the hunger that stayed with him every day.
Even at this early hour,
young boys and girls were everywhere on the streets. They slept on garbage heaps to keep warm, and they walked all day from one place to another. Kipyatich did
not know them, and they didn’t talk. But he followed wherever they went, hoping they could lead him to food. They looked in every garbage can and every bag that
had been thrown away that looked promising. By the end of the day, Kipyatich had found two pieces of bread and a half full bottle of Coke. It was good, and it
helped relieve the pain he felt, but he knew he would have to do something else in order to stay alive. He would beg for money and hope he could buy a whole loaf of
Day after day Kipyatich
held out his hand, pleading for food or money. Sometimes, he got nothing—and sometimes he got enough to stop the pain in his stomach. It was
good. Good that is, until the older boys began to beat him and steal everything that he had collected that day. Then the pain came back and Kipyatich realized he
could not survive on the streets of the city.
He decided that he would
run far away. He would go to the forest to live. Maybe he could kill a rabbit or one of the big birds he had seen in the trees for his food.
He left early the very next morning.
By afternoon, he had
reached the dark forest, and Kipyatich rested. He knew he would have to go deeper among the trees in order to avoid the forest wardens and anyone else who might be
nearby. So, he walked and walked until his bare feet were cut and bleeding from the thorns, and he was too tired to walk anymore. He laid down on the soft leaves
and moss, and was soon fast asleep.
It was the rustling of
leaves that awoke him. Slowly Kipyatich opened his eyes. What he saw caused him such fear that he quickly closed his eyes again. Baboons were
all around him! Some were huge and old; some were smaller and some were younger. He carefully sat up, wondering how he would get away. Then it
happened. The baboons began to bring him food! There were unripe ears of corn, and dirty potatoes just dug from the garden. They laid the food
beside him, and then moved away.
His fear dimmed in the
urgency of his need for food, and the hungry boy ate thankfully of the corn, then wiped the potatoes on his already dirty clothes and ate them, skins and all. He had found
The next day, the
baboons brought food again, and also the days following that. Kipyatich began to feel stronger, and the pain became less. He was afraid to leave, and he didn’t
know where he could go anyway. His new friends were taking care of him, and he was glad.
Day after day, Kipyatich
grew more comfortable with his baboon friends. He learned to raid gardens on the edge of the forest just as they did. He built a shelter of sticks and leaves,
and found warmth in the presence of any of the baboons who would stay near him. Life was better now, and he did not think about his home or his angry father, or
For three years,
Kipyatich lived with the baboons. He learned much from them, but most of all, he learned that they cared for one another. The older ones cared for the younger, and the younger ones
cared for the older. Kipyatich cared for them all, and did what he could to protect them and help them find enough food. He somehow felt that this was the way
that life should be.
But God had a better
plan for Kipyatich. Pastor William from the Cheppema Hope Center had heard of a young child who had been seen in the forest. It was time to find
him. It took many days to find him, then many more days to convince Kipyatich of the truth concerning others who would love him and care for him. The promise of
school was of no interest, and even the thought of good food did not help. But when Pastor William spoke of happy children and friends, of new clothes and warm shoes, Kipyatich
gave in and began to trust this man who was not at all like his father.
Kipyatich changed and
grew in the Cheppema Hope Center. He had much to learn, but everyone was patient and helpful. Best of all, he learned about Jesus, who wanted to be his very best
friend and Savior, and it was a happy day when he opened his heart to Christ. Kipyatich has chosen a new name to go with his new life. He is now “Michael” and
continues to grow in the knowledge of God. To Kenya Hope, Mike is a Miracle; a blessing and a challenge. We love him and although we are still unable to find his parents, Michael
Kipyatich has a home at last!