Tegla Loroupe Encourages Former Street Children

Story by Julius Mwangi

Tegla Loroupe (Second from right) the world renowned athlete and a peace advocate graced the Amka Album Launch organized by the children of Ndugu Mdogo Rehabilitation Center (NMRC) in Kibera. NMRC is rehabilitation center started by Koinonia Community. She gave a very important message of peace and encouragement to all the children in attendance.

Tegla Loroupe a record holding Kenyan world athlete and the founder and director of the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation graced the launch of the Amka Kenya album on Saturday 27th April 2012. The event was also graced by politicians, the government officers, schools and scores of organizations working with the children. The former Kenyan Gold Medalist Athlete had very special and encouraging words for the children. Loroupe holds the world records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometres and previously held the world marathon record. She is the three-time World Half-Marathon champion. She was the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon, which she has won twice. She has won marathons in London, Boston, Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Berlin, Rome and many of other cities.

She began by telling children that she was pleased and honored to listen to their powerful messages of peace. She also had a very important message for the former street children

“We should not let our bad past history hold us from the dream of becoming better citizens of this country.  We should not also let poverty or hardships hold us back from our determination to become better and also to better the society we live in. In some of  you children I see Kenya’s future president, I see doctors, professors, athletes, artists and business people. I see a successful Kenya of the future in you!”

She narrated to the children about her background which had so many setbacks. She however believed in the struggles and in the dreams she had for herself. The starting was never easy and nothing has ever been easy however believing in the hope of a better tomorrow makes all the heavy burdens lighter. In her speech she indicated that she had listened keenly to every message the children conveyed to the society through their poems, skits, songs, dances and mostly through their new Amka Kenya Album.

The Ndugu Mdogo children choir with their campaign Amka Kenya. This message conscientizes on civic responsibilities and the need t create a culture of peace and integration.

Peace is the only condition that could make Kenya be better developed than it is now. “It does not matter how rich or poor we are, if there is no peace then the prospects of development are nil. That is the beginning of human rights abuses. We have a duty to protect our country by working for peace!” She told the children that she had travelled across the world and has gone to Europe, America, Australia and so on and each and every time she visits those places she observes with wonder at all the developments they have made. Despite these observation, the concern that always strikes her mind is to find the answer to the question “why do we as Kenyans fight amongst ourselves; and why do we destroys the harmony of our own Nation?” As we move to the future, Tegla advised that the children should not allow to be poisoned to start despising people from other tribes and ethnic communities. “Well my children, ethnicity can be a great resource to promote social justice. Sometimes it has not been used well. As you grow up do not allow yourselves to become unjust to people who are not from your ethnic community. This injustice is the cause of violence. Try to find a way to always love the others just as you would your own father, mother, brother or sister. A Kenya full of loving and caring people is a healthy Kenya and as a result of this it will be blessed with development.”

Tegla had a strong message to the parents. She told them “Families have a responsibility to build peace at their homes, in their families and they should always love one another, to embrace each other. Those strong in the family have a responsibility to help the weak and the invalids.”  She recognized that families are passing through difficult moments because of economic hardships and the pressures of post modernism which have had the adverse effect on the traditional family structure. “Families should not allow to be defeated by these adversities. Every adversity has in it some seeds of equivalent advantage. Hence these adversities should not tear families apart but help them become more unified. This unity and working harder will make us be able to take care of our children. Hence they will get the best values first and foremost in the families.”

Turning back to children, Tegla reminded them again that they should arm themselves with love. She said, good leaders are those who forgive and forget and move on to create better solutions for the society. Africa is going to experience a transformation in the future if all children  focused on love instead of the despondency that has characterized the society today. Infact I am more optimistic of the future where you children will correct the wrongs made by we your parents.” She went ahead and urged the children not to accept to be used by people who have bad motives. They should refuse to be involved in either taking or peddling drugs and any other forms of activities that will end up ruining their lives. She also told the children to teach their parents, friends and teachers the meaning of love and peace. The children should carry around a message that Kenya is better of if peaceful. She then advised the children not to forget to build their talents. “The talents are a special gift God has given to each and everyone of us. It does not matter whether you are poor or rich, a street child or a child of the palace. We are all equal and we all have the ability to be what we want to be if we believe in ourselves. God will always do His part; hence  if one of you has an athletic talent, let him  run and run, and if anyone can play foot ball, then play it, and if you can sing then sing. Your talents have a unique message to the creation.” She finished by thanking Koinonia and all the organizations in front line of assisting and supporting the street children of Kenya be reintegrated back to the society.

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