No Justice for Baby Ryan Yet: Part 3: Suspect spotted building her house as Baby Ryan stays in Orphanage
Read Part One and Two of this Story on the Home Page and on My Blog Go Women Go. “Who did this to Baby Ryan” and “Who Will Save Baby Ryan”?
Yesterday, we paid a visit to the Saidia Orphanage in Gilgil to follow up on Baby Ryan’s story. We had agreed to leave at 6 am so we could meet the Children’s office before he left for a Wedding Ceremony. But Dorine and her stepsister Teresa showed up at Kencom Stage at 8 am. Dorine, Baby Ryan teenage mother and Teresa could not raise the Sh40 (half a dollar) from Kaloleni Estate to town. I had agreed to take care of the Day’s travel expenses and do a little shopping for Baby Ryan. Well, a neighbour finally lent them Sh40 and Dorine, Teresa, I and Transworld Journalist Mary Mwendwa took a Matatu at Nyama Kima and set off for Gilgil. Mary Mwendwa is a young Professional Media Woman under mentorship at the Media Liaison and Advocacy Centre Consultants’ Programme. We arrived at the Home at 10.45 am.
From Right: Baby Ryan, Trans World Journalist Mary Mwendwa, Dorine Odipo and her Stepsister Teresa Odipo at the Saidia Orphanage.
The handlers at the Saidia Orphanage were friendly and welcomed us warmly. We had lunch and tea and met hundreds of abandoned, neglected, sick and needy children. Baby Ryan ran and danced towards us when he saw his mother Dorine and so did the other children.
The woman who allegedly abused Baby Ryan, Evalyn Achieng’ Ouma, is at her husband’s Boniface Odipo’s home in Kajimbo Village, Nyakach. Evalyn surfaced there last week. She had gone underground after an irate mob tried to lynch her, frog-matched her to the Gilgil Police Station and handed her over to the Police. Evalyn who has been spotted at Kajimbo turned up with a lot of building materials and is doing final touches to her permanent house. Relatives suspect her husband may be around or may have sent her money for their family project.
Despite a call to a police officer in Gilgil and to the Gilgil Volunteer Children’s Officer Mr Henry Wamae, no action has been taken. Evalyn is free and on the loose as the traumatised Baby Ryan finds temporary shelter at Saidia Children’s Home.
Mr Henry Wamae, Volunteer Children’s Officer at Gilgil Children’s Department and Jane Kinuthia, Co-Founder Saidia Orphanage during the visit.
“I called my mother the moment a neighbour alerted me that my sister-in-law Evalyn was at our home. But my mother (read stepmother), said Evalyn was a new bride in her home and she could not chase her away. I called the police officer, Ms Nafula who is handling the case. I called the children’s officer Mr Henry Wamae. But nothing has happened,” says a teary Dorine Odipo.
Dorine Odipo’s story is heart-rending. It is the story of a teenage mother who had a baby at 15 while in Form Three. The family took her back to School at Tieng’re Secondary School Boarding in Kisumu County. Dorine claims she was sent home from School because she failed to clear an outstanding balance of Sh27, 000. She missed the Kenya National Examination (KNEC) Registration as a Form Four candidate. Not one to lose hope on her education, Dorine registered as a Private Candidate at the nearby District Commissioner’s Office in her Village.
Lunch hour: Dorine cries as she feeds Baby Ryan at Saidia Orphanage.
While still chasing her School fess issues at home, she got a call from Gilgil Police Station asking her to go and identify her son Baby Ryan who was a victim of child abuse. Baby Ryan had allegedly been bitten, scratched, knifed and burnt with hot oil and matchsticks and starved by Dorine’s sister-in-law Evalyn Achieng’ Ouma. The suspect had bitten Baby Ryan’s private parts and he was oozing pus and blood upon admission at Gilgil District Hospital. The P3 Form signed by a Dr Sang, Medical Officer of Health indicated the details.
Dorine comes from a large polygamous home, next to Kodingo Police Camp in Kusa, Nyakach County. Dorine’s late father had two wives. Dorine has only one brother from her mother’s house. This brother, Boniface Odipo, a KDF soldier in Somalia is Evalyn (the suspect)’s husband). The other house has 12 children. Dorine’s parents both died leaving Dorine to be raised by her stepmother. It is the same stepmother who has been taking care of Baby Ryan.
Asked why the culprit has not been apprehended, Saidia co-founder Jane Kinuthia says Evalyn needs counselling and not police arrest. “There must be something in her past that may have triggered her action, “says Kinuthia. She however admits that it is sad and unfortunate that Evalyn is at home with Dorine’s stepmother.
The Children’s Officer handling Baby Ryan’s case is said to be on leave for the last one month and will return to work on May 9th, next month. A Volunteer Children’s Officer, Mr Henry Wamae told the writer that we have to wait for the Children’s Officer to return to work. “We cannot release Ryan Brownstead from the home as he is still healing. Both mother and child are vulnerable and have no proper place to go to. But we will release Baby Ryan to his mother as soon as she is settled and can support the child.”
Although Media Liaison and Advocacy Consultants had offered Dorine a job, Wamae says this is not enough. “We must follow protocol and ensure Baby Ryan is stable. The interest of the child comes before the interest of the mother or the relatives,” a firm Wamae says.
Baby Ryan (Front Row in Navy Blue Sweater) and Mum Dorine pose for a group photo with some of his Saidia Family.
Meanwhile, Dorine has been allowed to visit her baby as often as she wants, despite the fact that she cannot raise money to travel to Gilgil.
Who will save Baby Ryan? Who will take Dorine back to School? When will justice be done so Baby Ryan’s abuser it prosecuted? Why did the police release her when she was already in their custody?
Baby Ryan in his new warm Jacket and Baby cap, poses with Saidia Manager Teresa Wahito in the Dormitory.
It was a tearful departure for both mother and child yesterday, with Dorine crying outside the gate and Baby Ryan crying inside the home. So I gave Baby Ryan a sweet as his house mother Risper carried him away. I gave Dorine a sweet too, to distract her from the sad scene. The rains pounded heavily on us as we left Gilgil and jumped into a speeding Nissan Matatu, back to Nairobi.
Who Will Save Baby Ryan – Part 2 of Who Did this To Baby Ryan?
Story and Pictures by Omwa Ombara
A crime has been committed. There is conspiracy by the Kenyan society to deny 4-year-old Baby Ryan justice. And as his teenage mother Dorine Odipo drops out of School before completing her Form Four, Baby Ryan has now found temporary shelter at the Saidia Children’s Orphanage in Gilgil. The Children’s Department, the Police, no one is willing to talk. Who will save Baby Ryan?
Baby Ryan’s mother Dorine Odipo during the interview. Who will save my baby, she pleads.
It is a wonder that Baby Ryan’s 14 aunts and uncles and other relatives never realised that the child was undergoing such inhuman torture. Dorine was called from School by Police to go and identify Baby Ryan at the Gilgil District Hospital. She told the writer: “The baby saw me and started crying. I asked him what happened. He told me he was beaten with a belt, cut slit with a knife, on the hands and forehead. He was burnt on the hands with live matchsticks. He was bitten on the right hand and uncle. The wounds were still fresh,” says Dorine. Baby Ryan’s stepmother, (Dorine’s brother’s wife who allegedly tortured him), is the wife of a Kenya Defence Force soldier currently fighting Al-Shabaab under Amison in Somalia. He is in the Paramilitary Unit.
Dorine Odipo (centre) , Step-sister Theresa Odipo and Step-brother Shem Odipo during the interview
But Baby Ryan only stayed in the hospital for three days before being released to the Saidia Orphanage. The Children’s Department is reluctant to release the baby to any member of Baby Ryan’s family.
Baby Ryan is unwell and needs treatment. He cannot control his bowels and he remains traumatised. He cries a lot and keeps to himself. Whenever a visitor goes into the home, Baby Ryan hides under the bed.
The 24-year old step-mother, who allegedly committed the crime, has gone underground. The police say they have to wait for Ryan’s uncle to come back from the war before they press charges on his wife. Meanwhile Dorine is under pressure from the family to withdraw the case. Dorine alleges that her soldier brother will not send her any more money for her School fees until she withdraws Baby Ryan’s case.
Teenage mother Dorine Odipo hopes Ryan will get justice. She has dropped out of School trying to find a way for Ryan.
But the Children’s Department and the Police will not release the Baby. The P3 form signed by the doctor is proof that Baby Ryan was tortured by a member of the family. But even if Baby Ryan was released to Dorine, she is under age and cannot support the child. Her own stepmother is the one who released Baby Ryan to the relative who allegedly abused him.
Ryan’s father who was a teenager of 17 when he impregnated Dorine, then 15 years and in Form Three is a layabout. He broke up with Dorine after impregnating her and they have not been in touch, says Dorine.
Dorine is stressed because she can no longer visit Baby Ryan. She cannot raise the Sh500 to go and see her son in Gilgil, She cannot travel back home either. She cannot raise Sh1200 to travel home. She is afraid to leave Baby Ryan behind. But she hopes and prays that someone somewhere can help her get Baby Ryan to hospital. She also hopes that one day she can go back to School. Who will save Baby Ryan?
See the original Story on Home Page – Who did this to Baby Ryan?
Story and pictures by Omwa Ombara
I hid my face from friends and family when you died. It took me time to attend your wake at your house in Lang’ata. Our friendship was such that you had to call me on Wednesday and prepare me for your departure. You asked whether we could meet and have a quick cup of coffee, but I was too busy at Sheria House chasing my registration certificate.
“Omwa, I don’t have long to live,” you chuckled. “I am travelling to Simenya for a Board meeting then I will pass by to see my mother. In case I do not make it back to Nairobi, just remind my family that I want a beautiful funeral. Make sure they dress me well and put red lipstick on my lips.” We laughed and made jokes over that. I did not believe she would be dead by Saturday morning.
Veronica had asked for red lipstick too. I preferred purple while Veronica loved pink. But in one of our regular dinners at Yaya Centre, Mary, being the most adventurous of us trio had often told us off and insisted that red was the professional colour. So after arguing over our Pizzas, we agreed to turn to red nails and toes and of course, red lipstick. I remember we buried Veronica in red lipstick too.
I saw you lying in your beautiful coffin at the Don Bosco Shrine during your requiem Mass and said I would not cry. You, Veronica Mburu and I had promised each other that we would not cry if any of us died first. But we cried when Veronica died and yesterday I cried as if my heart would break. I cried when all I wanted to do was smile. I tried to smile through my tears but forgive me my dear friend. I could not let you go without a tear, knowing what you had gone through, knowing the deep secrets we shared.
Caren Ochele, our dear friend ushers the Congregation at the Don Bosco Shrine during Mary Ted’s Requiem Mass,
It took our friend Caren Ochele, who was an usher to calm me down. “It is well!” She repeated as she hugged me and wiped my tears. “It is well with our friend!”
Mary Ted wanted me to be an accountant. I remember Mary Ted mentoring me at the Agricultural Finance Corporation where I did my attachment after my ‘A’ Levels. She was the Financial Controller. Caren was our Secretary. After patiently trying me out with figures, balancing sheets with Shakila and Mrs Mwangoda, and with some goading from Mumo Matemu, the lawyer, Mary and Caren finally gave up on me. “Omwa has too many stories to tell, she does not have a Mathematical mind, so we declare you a Journalist,” she said. We were another trio, Mary Ted, Caren and I. So when I joined University, I opted for Literature and Linguistics, with Mary pushing me to master my Language ahead of my Journalism career…
When Mary Ted started her Kenya Breast Health Programme in Lang’ata, she picked me from Nation Centre where I debuted as a Freelance Correspondent. The Breast Health office was still bare. It lacked curtains, the wiring was not yet done and there were cables all over the floor. There was no electricity yet and one computer. Two young ladies, volunteers poured for us two cups of home-made tea from a white flask. The proud smile on Mary Ted’s face was infectious. “This is just a start. I want to reach as many women with cancer as possible. I want to stop as many women from getting cancer by encouraging them to go for the test early.”She said. The dream made her eyes glitter with hope. It was an exciting evening and we toasted Champaign to a Cancer-less future. Mary was diagnosed with Cancer on January 5, 1999. True to her dreams, Mary Ted spearheaded and championed a nationwide campaign on breast cancer awareness. She was a counsellor and a great support system to Cancer survivors, allowing them to stay in her house when they lacked accomodation. Mary Ted was indeed instrumental in pushing the Government to install Cancer support equipment in Provincial Hospital. Her mobile clinic on cancer screening became the face of hope in Kenya.
Breast Cancer survivors show up in style at the Requiem Mass. Their powerful message was,”what is your purpose in life?”
Mary Ted wanted a Breast Cancer Journalist who could break Cancer stories and break the stigma that enshrouded Cancer then. The media would not touch it and there was a general contempt by society for women with one breast. Mary Ted’s first assignment was that I go for a Mammography. After much reluctant persuasion, Mary Ted, Vero and I went to Nairobi Hospital. My tests were fine and of course we celebrated the results.
My first Cancer story was Veronica Mburu. I did the interview as Mary Ted and Vero tried on the latest prosthesis (artificial breast) in town down at Kijabe Street. I had not seen prosthesis before and I did not know women wore it after they lost their breasts to Cancer surgery. Despite my ignorance and shock, Mary Ted and Vero cat- walked up and down the shop making the salesman and I burst into hysterical laughter. And so I got into the Breast Cancer family as a Journalist and not as a survivor.
When I did Vero’s story, the challenge was whether we should show the Prosthesis to the public or not. My then editor, Rhoda Orengo took the bull by the horn and published the picture that shocked Kenyans to the reality of Cancer. The response was overwhelming and Vero had a rough time directing women to Kijabe Street.
At the fundraising dinner for the Breast Health Programme, I played both roles of Musician and Journalist as I performed with my Kalamindi band at the Panafric Hotel, Nairobi, backed up by Kenge Kenge Orutu System and Osogo Winyo.
Mary Ted was democratic with her daughters in a very special way. When I got an assignment from my then Editor, Betty Muriuki, to do a story on families with daughters only and boys only, Mary Ted asked me to talk to the girls and get their approval. We went to her sister’s house in Kariakor and found about 50 of her relatives ready to interrogate me.
From Left: Mary Ted’s sisters Margaret Alacoque ‘Koki’ and Dorothy Tsalwa at the Requiem Mass in Nairobi.
We sat in the kitchen where Mary Ted’s sister Margaret Koki made hundreds of Chapatis. Mary Ted sent her daughters one by one to the kitchen, sent Koki out and left me alone with the girls to persuade them on why they should appear in the papers. Such wonderful girls, Anne Marie, Amanda and Adelle allowed me to interview them and take their pictures. After lunch, The girls’ aunties interrogated and playfully teased me and finally allowed me to carry out the interview.
Catholic Priests, led by Father Emmanuel perform final rituals at the Don Bosco Shrine as they ask God to grant Mary Ted eternal rest.
The women danced themselves lame and our ever supportive friend George Otieno of Barclays Bank, whom Mary had nicknamed “Our Husband”, made the evening warm and cheerful.
Then Veronica died, creating a gap in our trio company. Vero died when I was out of the country on assignment. When I got back, Mary Ted and “Our Husband” took me to Vero’s grave in Lang’ata. The grave was well kept by Mary Ted and George with lots of lovely flowers. That had been Vero’s death wish.
So now Mary Ted will be buried tomorrow. She died in the arms of her mother Christine. Mary Ted made a difference to the Cancer community. She had passion for her battle against Cancer. So my two close friends are gone; Veronica Mburu and Mary Ted – two friends whose mark of friendship passed the test of time.
Your Eulogy was beautiful yesterday. And the Church was all so pink with brave faces. All your friends were there. The girls were brave. They smiled as you would have wished. For me, you were not the Vice Chairperson of the National Cohesion and Integration Committee or Chairperson, Nyanza Economic Forum. You were just Ted, my friend and bossom buddy. The Godmother to my great niece and friend Monica. Mary Ted, it was indeed a celebration of your life; the celebration of an achiever. Till we meet on the other shore, Mary Ted – Fare Thee well, my friend!
Mrs Ida Odinga, Patron Kenya Breast Health Programme and wife to Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Amolo Odinga at the Requiem Mass. Ida payed glowing tribute to Mary and asked Kenyans to make a difference in their own little ways.
This Man, Najib Balala
From those early days as a young man, he stood to be conspicuous wherever he went; even as a person he has a very pleasant personality. He is handsome (what the local community called a “natural attractiveness”). From the very beginning he has never been a fundamentalist – he is seen as a moderate, educated and westernised person. Even when other Arabs were being sent to local schools his family took him to Kakamega High School. He later went to Harvard University.
At Kakamega High School, Balala related well with the institution members that were not Muslim. This is not to say that he has not been loyal to his faith. He drives his inspiration from his beads. Balala speaks fluent Luhya and loves chicken. Although his favourite food is Biriani, he has had to go slow on the dish since it is quite fattening. The former Ag. Labour Minister has special praise, almost awe when he speaks about his old school. One cannot mistake his nostalgia. “Kakamega High School taught me to be an independent thinker. To appreciate different cultures and understand that there is no difference in humanity, in diversity.”
Najib Balala is a Monday child. He was born on an early Monday morning at Kikowani in Mombasa at the Mosque. This explains why he loves Mondays. His father died before he was born having suffered from Leukemia. He has always referred to his mother as a strong woman. “She was only 30 years and never remarried. She protected us (we were six siblings, four boys and two girls). She was a very poor woman. I am very proud of her. Her upbringing is very well cultured. Her honesty is the key to our upbringing,” he told the writer in a past interview. Balala is the last born of his mother. Being poor and fatherless always inspired him to work hard and change society. He is a down to earth person who drives himself around even though he has access to a driver.
Balala, 45 is a family man and rather proud of his family. “After work, I sit with my children. If I don’t give them time, they will lose personal touch. My timing is unpredictable due to the nature of my political work so I spend quality time with my family,” he said.
He first cut his teeth is politics as Mombasa mayor and later as Mvita Member of Parliament and Minister for Tourism. From the start, his family was against his joining politics and he struggled alone.
His mantra is the need to start developing leadership that is honest and trustworthy and to have a mechanism to block leaders who take advantage of communities because they are more vulnerable and who think they can buy people. His greatest achievement is in the tourism sector where he introduced tourism as part of Corporate Responsibility and turned the economic sector around. He has never ceased to be a darling of the media since he always gives interviews without a fuss and always picks his calls even in the middle of a meeting.
He is highly respected within the Muslim community and never misses a function at the Mosque. Balala is accepted among Muslims who are rich, poor and middle class and by non-Muslims who are also of the same status. He is also said to be a darling with women who are the majority voters at the Coast. Before his sacking a few days ago, he was a bossom buddy of Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga until recently when they started following different political paths. He once described Raila as the only person who seemed to fight for the rights of Muslims.
Excerpt from a past interview. Copyright Omwa Ombara.