Rev. Mohammed W. Roba
I was born in a devout Muslim family in Ethiopia. I am blessed with a wife and two children whom I am very proud of. I am of Borana ethnicity and from unreached group. I’m a Christian, a pastor and an ordained minister. My father was a Sheikh and an Imam and my mother, a home maker. Due to Somali, Ethiopia war and after losing my sister Fatuma, my family fled to Kenya in search of a safer place. Shortly after, my father was murdered and my mother took the responsible of raising us as a single mother. It was very difficult for my mother. I saw the pain and fear in my mother’s eyes. She had lost her husband and she was new in a very unfamiliar country. We were called foreigners because we did not fit in. I was little but I could see my mother’s struggles. My mother was advised to register with the UNHCR office where all the refugees were required to report for monthly allowances and ration which she did but my father’s absence was unbearable to all of us and more so for me.
My life took a complete turnaround when I converted to Christianity at a tender age. My mother could not comprehend or bear the thought of losing 2 family members. My father was an Iman and I was expected to follow suit in my father’s footsteps. I was kicked out of home and lived half of my life in the streets of Nairobi, eating from garbage bins and begging for food from the Asian shops. I frequented prison following arrests by the police due to my faith, and defending the rights of other street children. Street children and their families became my immediate family members. Bible stories with street children were my everyday devotion and I survived the streets, because the Bible was my reference book and comforter. I learnt different skills and languages in the street and this led to ministering to my people, the Borana tribe and the Muslims.
We started the Boran Baptist Church which was reaching out to the Borana tribal group and the community as a whole with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mathare Valley and Huruma areas are surrounded by makeshift homes and poverty looms everywhere. We saw Boranas from all corners as far as the border of Kenya and Ethiopia become members of the church. Even my sisters and their children and mother watched from afar. Our Muslims brothers and sisters joined us as well. And with the support of the Surrounding neighboring slums, we were unstoppable. We started tailoring classes for women, money lending programs for young business entrepreneurs, and even loaned money to church members to start and invest in butcheries and slaughter houses. The tradition of celebrating the love of Christ and breaking bread with our fellow congregation members however did not last long. We suffered major persecution and lost all the newly baptized 72 members who converted from Islam to Christianity. Because of their faith they had become a major threat and easy targets. Even after killing these innocent faithful members, the killing continued and still continues to date. We lost my family members. But we did not give up hope. From this disastrous occurrence, a new vision was birthed.
We later started the Boran Children’s Education Center regardless of all the losses and mourning of our deceased family members and friends. Seeing the suffering of the orphaned Borana children and their struggling mothers, did not just make us despair and become hopeless, it made us stronger and gave us the motivation to start all over again. It gave us a more meaningful reason. HIV positive/aids victims and street children became our focus coupled with the refugees arriving in Kenya. The need to provide services that would bring meaning and purpose in their life has been our goal since then. The Boran centre became a beacon of hope and served as a safe passage for many refugees and the surrounding slum area children. The Boran Centre has been a bridge for refugees by providing ESL classes for Somalia and Ethiopia refugees; young adults and children transitioning to their next resettlement country. The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) /United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the government of Kenya started advocating and supporting the program. Training opportunities such as tailoring classes, small scale business skills and money management programs were made available for the refugees. But it was never a joy ride.
The Centre has suffered a lot of setbacks but has never closed down or shunned away any needy, poor individual or children; it continues to grow and has borne immeasurable fruits. From the humble beginnings, the Boran centre has seen 3 other branches open up with over 300 children including a rehabilitation centre for street children. The refugee young adults and children who were processed and left for their resettlement countries have achieved something valuable in live. Some are college graduates who have managed to get decent employment; others are self-employed while others are homemakers. There’s a lot to be grateful for seeing how second chances have been given to many deserving children, and how lives have been transformed as a result. However our quest to do more and reach more continues because there are many out there who need our help.
Your support will contribute towards changing the lives of these vulnerable children and the Borana Community… Take a step of faith and be a part of it! Proverbs 18:10.
I am a beneficiary of World Vision when we first arrived in Kenya from Ethiopia. And on behalf of my late family I am very grateful for this. I was rescued by Father Groa of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Eastleigh Nairobi when I was kicked out by my mother. Undugu society of Kenya was my counseling center during my youth. The Centre invested counseling and skills training opportunities of which I still embrace and enjoy today. Baptist Missionaries John and Marth Adams of Midland Baptist Church, TX were my sponsors when I was transitioning to adult hood and understating to cope with Christian life. They took me in and molded me for which I am very grateful for.
For this reason and most importantly because of every organization and individual who planted a seed of hope, I have taken the step to give back to the community through Child To Child USA and Boran children's Education Centre. I saw the void in children’s life especially those in the streets of Nairobi and started a Centre which provides counseling and rehabilitation services to help create awareness and fight for their rights. Life in the streets can be brutal and unforgiving, and this is a journey I have experienced myself as a street boy.
All children need and deserve love, care, happiness and education. Fighting for the rights of the children and gay community has given me the fulfillment and satisfaction to see that a child or any deserving individual does not miss out.
Because someone spotted me in the street, took time to nurture me, to care for me, to show me direction, I have taken the responsibility and the burden to give back to such as me. People with like minds and visions work well together to bring that change to those in need. Let this be your new vision and mission to bring change to children in need!