Kenyan Schoolboy Rekindled Dreams After Losing Father to al-Shabaab

04/02/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Fifteen-year-old Joseph Mwangangi lost all hope of attending secondary school after his father was killed and his family was displaced by al-Shabaab. These events occurred just a few months before he would have transitioned from primary school to high school. On the night of July 8, 2017, the quiet village of Jima in Lamu West was raided by armed Somali militants with the sole intent of killing the village’s Christian men.

“That fateful night changed our lives forever. They called my father outside and guided him outside the compound where they shot and beheaded him. We were so terrified that we could not raise our voices to call for help from our neighbors. In the morning, we found my father’s lifeless body lying on the way to the next homestead. That night, nine people were killed. The whole village was in shock and disbelief,” recalled Joseph, the second born in a family of five.

His family was among more than 200 families that were sheltered at a local church, AIC Witu. They lived there for months before they were dismissed to either return home to Jima or to look for another home away from the terror-prone Boni Forest.

“I sat for my final national exam in another school and managed to score very high marks to secure admission at Mpeketoni Boys Secondary School. However, I did not report to the school because I had no fees and shopping for boarding. One month passed, while other students had reported [for] learning. My mother was not able to raise any money for tuition because she was doing menial jobs in Witu town getting peanuts, not even enough to buy food for us,” added Joseph.

“That fateful night changed our lives forever. They called my father outside... where they shot and beheaded him. We were so terrified that we could not raise our voices to call for help from our neighbors.”

However, one of the pastors in Lamu learned of Joseph’s situation and shared his story with International Christian Concern (ICC). “I am thankful to Pastor Bernard for approaching ICC and telling them what my family was going through. Eventually, I received full fees and shopping for my admission to Form One at Mpeketoni Boys Secondary School. My dreams of becoming an engineer in the future were rekindled,” Joseph told ICC.

This is the second year that ICC is supporting Joseph’s education to equip him so that he can excel and become a pillar of hope for his family. Mr Nzaro, the deputy head teacher of Mpeketoni Boys Secondary School, shared, “He has been emerging among the top best students, not only in his class, but also in the whole school. He leads an exemplary life and he has become a role model for many students in the school. We have been encouraging him to remain focused [on] his academics and not allow persecution of his family [to] bring him down.”

Joseph’s mother, Syungu Mwangangi, is grateful that her son’s future is bright, saying, “He is the only star in my family and I pray that he will complete secondary school and join the university to study civil engineering and later have a bright future. His stay in school has been made possible by your organization and we shall forever be indebted to you.”

Unfortunately, Joseph is just one of the many children in Lamu county facing obstacles in their journey of obtaining an education. Please pray for Christian children throughout Kenya whose lives are routinely disrupted by religiously motivated violence.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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