Sammy Githae and Zipporah Njeri never dreamed of taking a shower or having a decent meal at any restaurant in the city on Valentine’s Day. This is because the 20-year-old lovebirds live and eat off the streets of Nairobi.
But a few days to this year’s Valentine’s Day, all that changed. Nairobi-based photographer Johnson Muchiri of Muchiri Frames, and his team were racking their brains for something special that they wanted to do for a couple in Nairobi to celebrate the lover’s day.
Muchiri told Nairobi News that one of his colleagues Jacinta Njoki, who had worked with street children, came up with the idea.
“She suggested that we try finding any couple that lives on the streets, give them a makeover and have them enjoy dinner together on Valentine’s Day,” recalled Muchiri.
He added that Jacinta and another colleague went out and scouting for the couples. They spoke to several people and one told them he knew a couple at Central Park, next to Uhuru Park.
“We approached them and Githae alias Blackie was willing and ready but Njeri was a bit hesitant because they thought we would be taking advantage of them. We assured them that we just wanted them to have a good time and that is when she agreed,” said Muchiri.
Njeri and Githae met two years ago at Central Park which they eventually made their matrimonial “home”. Githae, who has been on the streets since 2012, was forced out of his home while in Standard Four because he was the “black sheep” of the family while Njeri was left an orphan. She abandoned school in Form One.
The man of the “house” told Nairobi News that it has not been easy being on the streets although he now hopes that after taking chances with Jacinta and Muchiri, all will be well.
Asked if he would go back to school if he had an opportunity, he said, “School will not be easy for me now. All I want is to get any kind of work that will put a meal on our table.”
He has a driving licence and hopes that one day he might land a driver’s job. On the other hand, Njeri wishes to pursue a career in catering, a dream that lights up Githae’s face.
According to Muchiri, the did not spend much because the entire make-over including their meal on Valentine’s Day at a top restaurant was all funded by volunteers.
However, pictures from the photo-shoot went viral on social media touching many Kenyans who have offered to assist.
“At the moment we are in meetings because people from all walks of life have volunteered to give them what they want to start in life. From a free rental house to clothes and even we are looking at the job offers.”
Muchiri is now hopeful that the couple’s dreams and ambitions “remain intact”.
But he remains cautious about people who have called and pledged to assist, although he welcomes any help.
“Their love story has defied all odds. They are a young, amazing couple with a genuine story to tell. When we took them for the shoot from Central Park, well-wishers just chipped in providing the stuff used in makeover such as clothes and makeup,” said Muchiri.
“We are inspired to be the change we want to see in our little ways and our little spaces. The Valentine’s shoot was a small gesture that not only transformed their physical appearance but their outlook in life. At the end of it all, everyone involved in the experience took life lessons on unconditional love to heart.”
For now, both Njeri and Githae are being housed by one of Muchiri’s friends as they thrash out details of the help from well-wishers.