Nairobi News

HashtagLife

Woman who reunited with family after 15 years dies

A woman who was reunited with her family in 2017 after the Sunday Nation carried her story has died.

Mary Njeri, born Sabrina Adam, died at the Kenyatta National Hospital on June 11 aged 26, leaving behind her 29-year-old husband and three children.

Nairobi News covered her reunion after the Sunday Nation story. NTV also covered the emotional event that drew crowds.

Tears roll down the cheeks of Sabrina Adam, 23, as she spoke with her relatives in Mombasa County when her relatives reunited with her in Dagoretti, Nairobi, on April 2, 2017. PHOTO| ELVIS ONDIEKI

The reunion was a chapter in Njeri’s eventful life. She had been born at the Coast to a family that was spread between Mikindani, Mombasa County, and Kibera, Nairobi County.

She was living with her Nairobi relatives in 2002, while aged eight when she wandered away from a mosque in Kibera where she had gone for madrassa sessions.

Her kin searched for her in vain, unaware that she had found her way to Dagoretti.

A few days after wandering away from home, Mary had been sighted in Dagoretti by Nelly Wanjiku, a mother of 10.

Ms Wanjiku was coming from a farm when she encountered this homeless girl wandering about. She would later report to the police, who took her statement and advised her to live with the girl.

It was a revelation that put to question the police communication channels because Mary’s family said they had filed a report in Kibera around that time.

It would take 15 years for the family to see Mary again, thanks to a story published on March 26, 2017. A relative of hers read the article then informed others.

Nation Media Group journalists led her Kibera family to Dagoretti on April 2, 2017, where the teary reunion happened.

Ms Wanjiku had said she was driven by compassion to adopt the young Mary.

“I said to myself, ‘This child is like my own. At my home, she may get a Good Samaritan to help her.’ But out there, anything could have happened to her,” she said.

The young girl identified herself as Sabrina Adam, but Ms Wanjiku found this name to be quite a mouthful and so she named her Mary Njeri.

That is the name on the late Njeri’s KCPE certificate and her national ID. She was also talking only Swahili with a coastal accent, but later she had to learn Gikuyu to conform with the way of life in her adoptive family.

Sabrina Adam (right) is overcome with emotion when her kin arrived to reunite with her. On the left is Nelly Wanjiku, 75, who adopted her and raised her. PHOTO| ELVIS ONDIEKI

After the emotional reunion, Ms Njeri was left in a dilemma. For 15 years, she had been following the Christian ways of Ms Wanjiku’s household, but her original family was Muslim. Would she now convert back to Islam?

Also, would she abandon her marriage with Martin Njenga, whom she had married in 2013, to return to her family? What of her children?

Equally, Nairobi News has learnt that some members of her family wanted her to travel to the Middle East to work as a house-help so she could rise above the abject poverty she was living in.

Eventually, she chose to stay in the marriage, which multiple sources say was characterised by physical abuse meted on her. The family has been living in abject poverty, often relying on well-wishers to get by.

Mr Njenga told Nairobi News by phone that his wife had been found to have “sugar issues” when examined at a local clinic, though medics at Mbagathi County Hospital administered a different treatment regime, showing that they might have diagnosed a different ailment. Mr Njenga also noted that Mary had been complaining of a stomach-ache.

“She would vomit whenever she ate,” said Mr Njenga, who eluded more questions from us.