Seven months ago Rebecca Atieno, 20, hit the newsfeeds after delivering at Uhuru Park unaided. She now reveals her backstory.
“Seven months ago, I birthed my daughter in a ditch at Uhuru Park, alone. It was all over in under 30 minutes. There was my daughter lying on the grass, screaming.
Unprepared for this moment, I used my phone sim card plate to cut the umbilical cord and then a dry piece of grass to tie it up. Then I scooped my baby up in my sweater, held her firmly on my chest.
We then sat under a tree to shield ourselves from the afternoon heat.
For about an hour, I sat there bleeding, feeling my strength trickle away, too scared to ask for help from the street boys who were loitering around.
From a distance, I saw a man in a black suit and a red tie walking towards me. He seemed to be in deep thought but he stopped at my feet when he saw blood on my blouse.
He asked me what had happened to me and I was reluctant to tell him. When he threatened to call the police, I told him I’d just had a baby.
He didn’t ask any more questions. He ran to the makeshift kiosks nearby and brought a plate of food and a bottle of water.
Then he called an ambulance to take me to Kenyatta [National] Hospital where we were admitted. I never got to learn this man’s name or to meet him again so that I can thank him.
It was at Kenyatta hospital that I met Christine Nkatha, a kind-hearted woman who took my daughter, Hope, and I to live with her family in Ongata Rongai.
I was told that a local newspaper had carried my story after the Good Samaritan posted it on social media.
Many well-wishers came to see me in the hospital. Many of them brought me baby clothes. It was, however, only Christine, who came and offered me a place to live.
For the last seven months, she has been a mother to me. Her family has been my family.
How I came to be at Uhuru Park on March 12 is a long story. It’s a story that just a few months ago, I wasn’t able to tell without crying.
But I am stronger now and I have learnt that everyone has a story.
I was born an only child to a second wife in a family in Ahero, Kisumu, 20 years ago. I remember feeling unwanted growing up.
I would be told time and time again how I didn’t belong because my mother already had me when she got married.
Things began getting worse when my mother died suddenly in 2014 and my father stopped paying my school fees. I was only 15.
Then, in 2017, when I was 17, my father also died. My relationship with a boyfriend also ended when my father died.
Armed with my KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) certificate, I boarded a bus to Nairobi. I had heard stories of bureaus that placed girls with families that needed a housemaid.
It sounded easy. I planned to work my way up and then save money to go to college.
In the big city, I quickly learnt that getting a job was hard work. The fact that I had no ID (identity card) only made my search harder.
Unsuccessful, I began living in the streets. For a month, I slept on the street corridors and went to Muthurwa Market during the day to scavenge for leftovers.
It was during this time that I missed my period and found out that I was expectant. I was frightened.
Luckily, I encountered a lady on the streets who agreed to house me in her home in Bahati for four months.
When I was about six months pregnant, I landed a waitressing job in a makeshift hotel at Grogon, Kirinyaga Road, where I earned Ksh. 300 per day.
I managed to save up and get my own room. I had no furniture and would sleep on a carton box on the floor but I was happy that things were finally looking up.
Then Grogon structures were demolished through a government order and I could no longer afford rent.
I moved to a boarding house at Muthurwa Market where I would pay Ksh. 50 for a bed per night.
I kept looking for a job and I was hired in another makeshift hotel. The job this time was hawking the food around the market.
I was well into my third trimester at this point and each day I was getting clumsier and slower.
I was laid off on the morning of March 12, the day I delivered my daughter. Stranded, I decided to go to Uhuru Park to rest and think.
I needed to use the toilet. I didn’t have the Ksh. 10 to pay for the public toilet so I talked to the attendant to allow me free use of the toilet.
She let me on condition that I left my phone, my only valuable, with her.
It was after this that I began getting labour pains. I went and lay in a ditch where I delivered my daughter. She was in perfect health.
I was taken to Kenyatta Hospital where Christine picked me up from. She has nursed and taken care of me since.
But I need to fed for myself now. I am stronger and I want to work and stand on my feet. What is slowing me down is my ID which I applied two months ago and is yet to be processed.
I still hope I can go back to school to study cosmetology and then get a job. The future can only get better. Maybe I’ll even get married someday. Who knows?”