Wanja Mwaura, a nurse from lower Kabete, Kenya, was leaving the market when a random, dirty homeless man called her by name. Wanja was understandably shocked that this person knew her by name. At first, she thought he was a mad person until he began reminding her of their primary school days such as their classes and their friends. Before long, Wanja recognized her old friend Patrick Hinga, and realized he wasn’t a “mad person.” He was in fact just someone suffering from the adverse effects of drugs.
Understandably, Wanja was not able to recognize Patrick immediately as she hadn’t seen him in several years and his looks had changed quite drastically. The last time Wanja had seen Patrick, he was a shining student and “one of the brightest boys in class,” she recalled. But sadly, his life was full of struggle.
After his grandmother’s death, Patrick got expelled from school for smoking cigarettes and marijuana. Shortly after, he gave up high school and began living on the streets. Eventually, he turned to drugs in 2004, as many homeless people do to cope with street-life hardships.
His mom tried to help him, even took him to a mental hospital to fight his addiction, but he escaped the hospital frequently, running away and being re-admitted several times.
Patrick’s mother told SDE, “He complained a lot and said all they did was give him medication and treat him like a mental patient and yet he was not mentally ill and that is why he kept running away. But when he was out of the hospital, he would walk around the neighborhood completely naked, or he would rummage through garbage.”
At the mental hospital, Patrick’s drug habit grew worse when he discovered a drug called Attain. Nancy explained, “It isn’t supposed to be used daily, but because it got him high, he got addicted. It was only Sh2 (a few cents) per tablet. He even stole prescription papers and got them from chemists.”
Despite Patrick leaving the hospital and roaming the streets of Nairobi, Nancy still looked after her son and helped him as much as she could. She revealed, “We were always a spectacle; people would call each other to come and stare, laugh and point at us as we ate. I was known as Mama wa wazimu” (i.e. the madman’s mother).
Fortunately, in the unexpected turn of events, Patrick was reunited with his old friend Wanja, and his whole life changed. After catching up with him, Wanja helped convince Patrick to go to rehab. He also shared with her that he had aspirations of going back to school one day. Wanja was determined to help him realize that goal.
As a nurse, Wanja knew that Patrick needed a strong support system to avoid a relapse. So she did what she thought was the best way to really help, she turned to social media to reconnect with other primary school friends and give Patrick the support system he needed to get his life back on track. She also gave Patrick her phone number with the assurance that he could call her anytime he needed her.
Wanja said, “It’s all about love. If I didn’t show him love, he wouldn’t have gone to rehab.” To show her love, she would eat from the same plate as him so that he didn’t feel like a reject. Over the course of the next few months, Wanja continued to look after and care for Patrick, and Patrick’s transformation over that time speaks for itself.
Patrick looks like a brand new man, and it’s all thanks to one selfless, caring woman who gave him a hand in his time of need. Not only is Patrick healthy and thriving now, he also has his very own business to focus on: a shop called “Hinga’s Store” which his old friend Wanja helped set up. “I feel like I am a new man,” he told Daily Nation. “I pray daily, asking God to deliver me so that I am not pulled back to that life of drugs.”