Peter came to Kitale in 2001. He arrived in this city all by himself. No money. No food. Nothing. Just the clothes on his back. He was only 8 years old. Before arriving on the streets of Kitale, he lived with his grandmother. Who, in his words, is the only person who ever really loved him. His parents sent him to live with his grandmother for reasons unknown to him, while he brother and sister remained at home. He speculates that perhaps they didn't love him enough to want him to stay. When his grandmother died in 2001, Peter made his way from Lodwar to Kitale with hopes of surviving. He had heard that things were better in Kitale and that there was food- something difficult to find in his region. Lodwar is an area of Kenya consumed with conflict. Two tribes, the Pokot and the Turkanans, are constantly fighting. The area is so dry and hot that water and food is nearly impossible to come by, and starvation is a tremendous problem. Peter's only hope of survival was to make the journey to Kitale and so at 8 years old he found himself living on the streets of Kitale.
Life on the streets isn't easy. Your bed is the ground outside and if you're lucky you might have an old potato sack to crawl into when the temperatures drop. Rainy season, although it is a blessing for this agricultural-based economy, is a nightmare when you're a street kid. It pours day after day, and the coolness of the night combined with the heavy rains is miserable. Kenya isn't always warm. In fact, it's 58 degrees outside as I write this. The kids try to sleep along the buildings, but police constantly chase them away by beating them. Therefore you can never sleep in the same place twice, your always on the move and just simply trying to survive. The street kids turn to sniffing glue as they attempt to forget about their misery. This high makes them forget that they are hungry. It makes them forget that they are cold. It makes them forget that they are all alone. It makes them forget everything.
It's a work of God that Peter's turned out the way he has. In 2009, after 8 years on the streets (8 long years of sleeping outside and begging or stealing for food) Peter came to live at Oasis. Since this time, God has completely changed his life. Peter has come to know the unconditional love of his father and Peter's heart and life are a depiction of that love. Today after church I went to Oasis to hang out with some of the boys. As we sat under an avocado tree, Peter began to tell me about the fullness and joy of God's love. It's amazing to hear a boy, whose life has been more difficult than anything I could ever imagine, boldly tell me about God's love. Beautiful.