For the past three years, 16-year-old Jackson Mwangi has been parenting his four siblings after their mother and father abandoned them.
Mwangi who is a class eight candidate at Muthigiriri primary school in Kiharu Murang’a has been working in the quarry to fend for his younger brothers and sisters who look up to him.
He says their mother who was violent and an alcoholic left home one day to never return forcing him to take up the role of the parent at his tender age.
“Even before she left she would go for days, come back empty-handed and drunk and we were relying on well-wishers to feed us,” he said.
“When I saw the struggle we were going through I started looking for menial jobs to get money to buy food,” Mwangi added.
He however said the mother shows up occasionally and sometimes they don’t even get to see each other as they only get reports that she was around.
Mwangi approached their neighbour who offered him a job at a quarry to make ballast.
On a full day at work, he crashes up to 20 debes of ballast which is a small percentage since it requires at least 200 debes to fill a lorry.
The price ranges from Ksh1500 to Ksh3000 per lorry but he says most buyers look down on him because he is a child.
“Some people come to collect the ballast and they give less money unlike when they are dealing with adults,” he said.
To strike a balance between school and his hustle, Mwangi goes to the quarry in the evening after classes in the company of his siblings
“We come here every evening but on weekends we spend the days here,” he said.
On a typical day, he wakes up to prepare breakfast for his siblings aged 14, 11, Seven and five years and they are all set for school and luckily for him, the school headteacher allowed them to learn without paying a penny after learning their situation.
Mwangi however is hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel and one day their star shall shine again.
He says the situation back home does not deter him from performing well in class and he aspires to become a neurosurgeon in future.
“I also encourage my siblings to work hard in school so that they can perform well and I assist them where I can,” he added.
He is however not certain of how to get to the next level after completing the primary school education because of financial constraints.
“If I get a wisher to sponsor me for my secondary education and that of my siblings too, we would be very happy,” he said.
Mwangi also pleaded with well-wishers to build them a house since the one they are living in is almost crumbling down.
“We are living in fear that the house might collapse when the rains come and we have nowhere else to go,” he said.
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