Youth abused as a girl now offers children a safe haven
After escaping abuse and death as a young girl, Flora Nkatha is at the forefront of protecting children and giving them space to thrive.
Evelyn Makena @evemake_g
At 31, Florah Nkatha Mugao is a proud mother of 40 children. The founder and director of Frolics of Hope Africa child rescue and trauma centre in Nakuru County has created an oasis of calm for children away from chaos of different forms of abuse.
Since the centre was opened in November 2018, Nkatha has busied herself taking care of children who have experienced abuse, including sexual, physical and emotional.
She also supports children who have undergone trauma including experiencing their parents’ deaths, especially for those affected by the 2007/2008 post-election violence in Molo.
The youngest child at the centre is a six weeks old baby, conceived by a 13-year-old survivor of sexual abuse while the eldest is 16 years old.
In what has become her daily routine, Nkatha has been involved in rescue missions of children undergoing abuse around Nakuru. She offers them affection and ensures that they get justice and counsel
“My day starts at 4am. On other days, I have to stay up very late at night responding to distress calls from children in danger.
Not a day goes without a report of a child going through one form of abuse or another,” she says.
Growing up Nkatha always loved children. “I remember my mother joking when I was young that she thought I would have more than 20 children because of the immense love I had for them,” she says.
As a child, Nkatha also suffered severe emotional and physical abuse, which , she reckons, has left indelible imprints of trauma she battles to date.
The emotional abuse included being called names by her grandmother, more than two attempts to kill her nuclear family by her relatives and watching her father hacked to death in broad daylight by his own brother.
Scars and trauma
This kind of trauma never goes away. Nkatha admits she still harbours intense paranoia and finds it difficult to trust people.
As she grew up, she felt an immense emptiness that no amount of success or material things could fill.
By starting the rescue centre in 2018 after resigning from a managerial position with Old Mutual, Nkatha, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and Master’s degree in Finance, has found her purpose.
“I have channelled all my energy to helping children who have undergone trauma heal. Through this I have found my own healing,” she says.
Nkatha grew up in Nkondi, Tharaka Nithi county in what she describes as a happy home. Her parents were both teachers.
Despite growing up in a loving nuclear family, the second born in a family of four children says they faced open hostility from their extended family.
“My mum was Kamba and though no one really openly said it, it was clear that my dad’s family never approved of his marriage to someone from a different tribe,” she says.
At three years old, Nkatha remembers her grandmother calling her a caterpillar and all sorts of names.
As they grew older her relatives attempted to kill them including when an aunt poisoned their food and when the brakes of their family car were tampered with leading to an accident. “We escaped with injuries. I still have the scars to date,” she says.
But perhaps the culmination of the hatred towards them was in November 2007 when her father was killed.
Nkatha had just completed her KCSE and had been home for barely two weeks.
She remembers her father being summoned by one of his brothers for an urgent family meeting just as he was preparing to leave for work one morning.
Later that morning, she witnessed one of her uncle’s hack her father to death as the rest of the extended family members watched.
Well wishers support
A month after the burial, Nkatha’s grandmother kicked out her mother and siblings out of their home at 6am, telling them they did not belong.
Normalcy temporarily returned for them for the next three years with her mother settling in a different location and rebuilding her life.
Nkatha was able to go to school through a scholarship by USAID while her younger brother and sister were beneficiaries of Equity’s Wings to Fly Programme.
In August 2011, three months after her father’s killer was released from prison, he killed Nkatha’s mother by shooting her with poisoned arrows.
For most of her years, Nkatha has been on the run from people that were keen on hurting her including her aunts and uncles.
By helping these children, she hopes to impact the society positively noting that most of the vices today are as a result of unresolved trauma from childhood.
With little resources at her disposal, Nkatha majorly relies on support from well-wishers to provided food and other basics for the children.
Additionally, Nkatha is running a welfare programme for widows, inspired by the suffering she saw her mother go through after her father’s death.
Under the project, Nkatha has supported 27 widows, established Msafi, a cleaning services company based in Nakuru as an avenue to generate income and support the widows’ families.