Washika, 9, got up really early that day in order to get to his Compassion Center on time. He had to tip-toe around so he didn’t wake up his cousins who were asleep in the same room in his Kenyan home. He quietly dressed in his uniform — pink checkered shirt with a blue cardigan and a navy pair of shorts. Then he grabbed a quick breakfast of tea and mandazi that his aunt Amina had left out for him. He was so thankful for her because she had been so kind to take him in.
As Washika pushed the lock on the metallic door to open it, the latch made a loud clunking sound, waking up his aunt. Amina walked over to the door and let him out, bidding him farewell. She stood watching him cheerfully trot across the yard and out of sight. She remembered back to when he was only 2 and how much he had grown since she adopted him as an orphan. She had no idea what was about to happen.
After school that day, he didn’t return.
“When Washika did not return home that afternoon, I thought that he was still playing soccer with his friends as they usually do. I anxiously waited for him to come home, and when he didn’t show up, I sent word to all my relatives and neighbors, asking if anyone had seen him,” said Amina.
No one had seen Washika, so she ran to the Compassion Center at her church to tell the Compassion child protection officer. Then she went to the authorities. The search began and that search would last for more than 2 months. She recalls countless times when her heart sank at the possibility of never seeing Washita again.
One day, she had finished laying out the table when she saw a silhouette of a person standing outside her window. She knew who it was! With a loud joyful scream, she ran outside, threw her arms around Washika and held him. The young boy was dirty and his hair was long. His bare feet were soiled and cracked. His pink checkered shirt and blue cardigan were dirty and discolored.
Washika told her about that fateful day. On his way back home from the project, Washika was picked up by an unknown assailant in a white car with black tinted windows. “The man asked me whether I knew the directions to Kakamega town and convinced me to board his vehicle in order to direct him.” After what Washika describes as a long journey, the man suddenly stopped on the side of the road and ordered him to get out.
“I was terrified and disoriented. I did not know where I was, so I started crying. For about two days, I was confused. However, after regaining my senses, I decided to shelter in the streets. I would spend most of my nights on shop verandas. It would get very cold in the night and mosquitoes would bite me,” Washika said.
Washika was not old enough to remember where he was or the details of how he managed to trace his way back home. Perhaps God led him back.
Washika’s aunt is so thankful. “The Compassion center really showed me love and concern for his well-being. I would not have been able to do it alone. The ordeal strengthened my faith, having become a believer only a few years ago. We decided to change Washika’s first name to Simon to symbolize the miraculous return as well as to give him a Christian identity,” said Amina, beaming with excitement.
His traumatic experience now fuels a new passion of becoming a counselor. “I want to help people, especially children who have gone through experiences similar to mine,” says Washika.