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Heartrending tale of Meru family’s squalid livelihood

A family in Kibari village, Mitunguu in Meru has been forced to put up in a house that is not fit for human habitation.

The family of eight lives in a 3×2 metres mud house with an iron sheet roof that has neither a door nor windows.

The makeshift door comprises of a piece of polythene paper and rag to cover the doorway which is about 1.4 metres high.

That is the story of Mr Julius Kiambi, his wife Anne Gacheri and six of their children.

Ann Gacheri carries her last born twins Naomi Ntinyari (stripped top) and Neema Kendi (pink top) as Norah Nkatha (purple top) sleeps and Blessing Riinya (blue dress) looks on during the interview at Kibari Village in Mitunguu, Meru. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL
Ann Gacheri carries her last born twins Naomi Ntinyari (stripped top) and Neema Kendi (pink top) as Norah Nkatha (purple top) sleeps and Blessing Riinya (blue dress) looks on during the interview at Kibari Village in Mitunguu, Meru. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL

“It is so demeaning and this is not what I had wanted for my family. I look at them going through all this and it hurts me so much,” Mr Kiambi says.

Mr Kiambi has two sets of twins, three years old and one year old, a twelve year old son who is in boarding school and an eight year old daughter.

Life becomes even worse at night because they only have one bed which is 3 by 6 inches to share and the biting cold becomes unbearable.

“Four of the girls sleep on the bed and I sleep while sitting because there is no space left for me to sleep. I give priority to the children because three of them are in day school. My husband sleeps on the floor with the other son,” Mrs Gacheri reiterates.

WORKED IN FARMS

On the floor, they spread all their clothes to make a makeshift mattress.

Mrs Gacheri adds that the children wake up crying because they feel tired. They squeeze themselves so much that the body gets fatigued.

She too faces a similar challenge as she wakes up even more sleepy and tired yet she has to prepare her children for school and tend to the last born twins.

Until ten years ago, Mr Kiambi had little to worry about their family land.

He used to live with his family in Kionyo where he and his wife used to pick tea for a living.

Mr Kiambi had provided his family a comfortable life until something happened that made them relocate back to their home in Mitunguu.

Julius Kiambi sleeps with his three-year-old son Newton Murithi inside their house at Kibari Village in Mitunguu, Meru. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL
Julius Kiambi sleeps with his three-year-old son Newton Murithi inside their house at Kibari Village in Mitunguu, Meru. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL

For five years, they worked in various farms and would fend for the family comfortably knowing too well that the land back home was big enough for his family’s future plan of building a good house.

He and his family were shocked when they were informed if they would stay away from home longer, they would have no home.

His dad, who died in February this year, had sold the family’s piece of land and no one was involved.

Ever since, Mr Kiambi’s life became a living hell because none of his family members knew how the transaction and land ownership was done, the lawyer involved, if any and how much his dad was paid.

LAND SOLD

The father of six told his wife that they had no choice but go back home and fight for their land since they say that the land had not been sold in a legal procedure.

“When we came here dad had already sold the land to our former councilor and I came to find out there was no legal process followed. My dad used to be paid little money over time and we are not sure how much he sold the land for and how much he was paid in total,” Mr Kiambi adds.

His worry is that even as his house sits on a portion of the land, one day people might come to claim ownership of that small piece of land and chase them away.

His family lives in fear and he worries about his children’s future since he has no money to buy land elsewhere.

His wish is to find out what happened to the title deed since he says nobody in the family is in possession of the document.

“As you can see, I have a young family. I am now 58 years old  and I am worried that if I die before fighting for my family’s right, they might suffer. This is not right,” he laments.

Mr Kiambi and his family are hoping for a brighter future and wants the buyer to come out and reveal to them how the sale was done so that they can be at peace.