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Teacher’s passion is feeding street children

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Clifford Chianga Oluoch, cofounder of Homeless of Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

Clifford Chianga Oluoch, cofounder of Homeless of Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

By JACKSON BIKO

Posted  Thursday, January 5   2017 at  16:20

Clifford Chianga Oluoch has been running a feeding programme for street children and families for a few years now. The organisation he co-founded - Homeless of Nairobi - feeds and helps take them back to school.

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The BBC called him “Nairobi’s Messiah” in an earlier interview.

His day job is an educator. He has been teaching for 30 years and is currently the headteacher at Premier Academy. He has also published 13 books.

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You could have done a million things with your life, yet you decided to feed street children. Why?

Why not? (Laughs). I grew up in Eastlands, okay?

Where?

Jericho Estate.

You’re a tough guy?

Yeah, I’m a tough guy. (Laughs) I grew up in abject poverty, in the sense that one meal a day was almost standard. So I know what hunger is, I know how it feels to wear your school uniform on Sunday because that’s your best. And the thing is that at the time everyone was going through more or less the same thing, so it didn’t look as bad.

What’s the most profound lesson you’ve learnt about these street children?

One is that human beings are all the same — this means inherently selfish. Those guys, for lack of a better word, appreciate things, but they also take things for granted. You know, like that handout mentality is one thing that I have had to break. Because initially it was like you bring them food and that kind of thing, but ownership and accountability is just not there at times.

You have a 30-year- old street guy who thinks like a four- year-old kid. You know, they imagine I will solve everything. If I showed you the messages on my phone, there’s this guy who has a toothache and is waiting for me to give him money to go and get the tooth extracted. Initially I used to do it, but after sometime I told them no. I have identified these Nairobi county government clinics. Go there.

If you imagine about poverty or think about it, what’s that smell that reminds you most of poverty?

(Pause) It’s difficult. And one of the reasons is that sometimes when you’re poor, you don’t even know that you are poor. Because everyone around you is more or less the same. You had tattered clothes, everyone had tattered clothes. Some ate githeri everyday, others ate ugali and sukuma wiki everyday. You didn’t think about it until Buru Buru Estate came up and the children there looked different. Then you realised you were poor.

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