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Mama Mary Metobo: A Heart That Gives

Once in a generation, there comes along a few individuals who impact society in a significant manner that leaves an indelible footprint on posterity.

These are ordinary individuals who despite their often meager resources and limited political capital endeavour to leave society with less suffering and more light. Think of Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi or our very own Wangari Maathai.

Motherly Care Children’s Home situated in Ruai, just about 25 km from Nairobi City is a testament to John Bunyan’s famous quote that you have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.

Members of Dr. BAMU Alumni Association – Kenya present their gifts to the children of the Motherly Care Children’s Home during their visit on 22nd November 2018.


Founded by Mama Mary Metobo in 1998 in response to the cry of the needy children in her neighbourhood then who would incessantly knock at her door begging for something to eat, the Home has grown over the years to become a safe haven for hundreds of HIV orphans, child victims of sexual abuse as well as those from poverty stricken homes who are treated like her very own children here.

We are welcomed by the cheerful Administrator, Mr. Moffatt Oseko upon arrival at the Home on this sunny and humid Saturday afternoon which has all the indications of a possible downpour.

The weather does little to dampen our spirit as some members of our Dr. BAMU Alumni Association – Kenya who subscribe to the Adventist faith have already spent the entire morning worshiping together with the children as planned.

Our day would be made already if we could now just handover the few goodies we brought – but not yet.

The Administrator, as a matter of protocol, takes us around the institution showcasing the impact of some projects in the children’s lives as a result of assistance from some well-wishers and also some projects which appear to be work-in-progress; and this is when he breaks the news that Mama Mary Metomo is no more.

I ask him to repeat what he just uttered in desperate hope that he is one of those characters prone to dark humour, but he is not laughing.

This is not exactly what we had in mind during the many weeks of planning with the Alumni Association, and I can gradually sense a bit of denial on my part though I have never actually met the graceful lady.

Before the distressful news sinks in, we are already back at the assembly grounds where the staff and all the children have gathered awaiting the ceremonial handing over and dedication of the first of the early Christmas presents.

The young ones, oblivious to the recent development, can’t stay calm with the new footballs, badminton rackets, chess and snakes and ladders sets as well as a few hula hoops for the girls in sight. They are probably used to receiving foodstuffs and other materials from visitors but not such an array of sports paraphernalia.

One can, however, notice a tinge of sombreness from the older kids who are most likely pondering what the future holds for them after their Mother has exited the scene; or it could be just the effect of  examination blues as we are told some just finished their KCSE recently.

With that realization, we switch gears and engage them in a myriad of fun activities and before we know it the place looks like a mini-amusement park of some sort, which really warms our hearts though at the back of our minds we know the situation might change once we leave.

This is apparent to everyone later in the day as soon as we return back to the institution’s premises after an impromptu nature walk and find scores of people seated as others trickle in to the compound to what is quickly turning out to be a memorial service.

After humbly accepting an invitation to commiserate with the mourners present by Mzee Stanley who is now the de facto head of the Home after his sister’s passing, we beg our leave.

None of us can comprehend why the Almighty God appointed us to be the designated visitors at such a time as this; but we are thankful for it is all in His great purpose since this was a culmination of weeks and weeks of preparations in line with our Association’s calendar of events for this financial year.

Her Legacy

We are informed that Mama Mary passed on that very morning after a long illness while in the United States where she had been receiving treatment for diabetes under the care of one of her own children.

You can tell that these children, now all grown up, are blessed too for also sharing their mother’s kindness and love with the destitute since they were young, true to the adage that a heart that gives, gathers.

One can only begin to imagine the depth of this lady’s love towards her adopted children in going so far as to donate her own homestead for their betterment.

We sense a bit of irony when, as a way of appreciating our gesture, the management severally invokes a blessing under James 1:27, ‘‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained.’’, while in all honesty it is they whom God is really happy with and has chosen for the ministry.

Corporates as well as individuals usually feel good about themselves each time they pay a visit to such homes for a few hours yet for Mama Mary it was her way of life.

Cases such as that of Baby Baraka rescued at two weeks old after being abandoned at the entrance of the Motherly Care Children’s Home three years ago, or the three sisters rescued from their father-turned-molester, as tear-jerking they are, are what gave Mama Mary the fuel to reach out to more children suffering in society.

Tributes are already pouring in from far and wide and also from those children who have passed through her hands, the eldest being a second year student at Kenyatta University; and in order for her legacy to continue, we have a solemn duty as a society to see that the vulnerable and destitute left behind are impacted positively and shielded from the vagaries of life.

Well-wishers and citizens of goodwill (individual and corporate) are, therefore, encouraged to join hands together to ensure continuity of Motherly Children’s Home’s projects as initiated by Mama Mary before she rested.

These include the renovation of the dilapidated kitchen and replacement of the uneconomical stoves; construction of a new boys’ dormitory as their population has outgrown the intended capacity; the completion of the multi-purpose hall half-way done, where they can hold their church services as well as other extra-curricular activities; payment for college tuition and opportunities for apprenticeship for those who have finished high school, and any other kind of assistance.

You can visit www.motherlycare.org and identify ways in which you can partner with the Home.

In this regard, we call upon all local Alumni Associations to set aside days when they can spend their lives with the needy in society as such interactions are likely to plant seeds of hope in to these children as well as erase their self-limiting beliefs.

A case in point is a girl named Anne who told me that she now wants to be a Judge when she grows up after engaging with one of our Alumni present who happens to be a Senior Principal Magistrate in the Kenyan Judiciary.


Mama Mary’s passing on during this month of November which is also marked as the National Adoption Awareness Month might also be a sign that we need to relook at the expanded role of the family in the upbringing of orphans and destitute children.

Remember that a children’s home is not an end in itself but rather should be a stopover before such children are assimilated by various families where they can grow in nurturing environments with security, love and affection.

Every child deserves that.

So, as we prepare to inter the remains of this great lady in the next coming days, let us all look around us for opportunities to leave a legacy just like she has by touching the lives of the needy in society.

This will be more impactful when our time also comes to be with our Maker and as Mother Teresa put it, ‘‘If you can’t feed a hundred people then feed just one.’’

To Mama Mary Metobo: You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, and you have kept the faith. Well done good and faithful servant. Well done.


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