- Alulu started Chosen Vessels in a single room iron-sheet house in Kosovo area as a daycare to support orphans and vulnerable children.
- Many of the children are from homes where the parents are infected with HIV.
He was not born in Mathare, Nairobi, but had many friends in the slums whom he visited regularly.
With every visit, Patrick Alulu saw the tribulations of children and toddlers and though he tried to turn a blind eye at first, the picture stuck in his mind.
“I never dreamt of starting a school or be a teacher at any point in my life. This was just a calling after witnessing the challenges young people in Mathare were going through,” he said.
However, one time during a visit in the area, two toddlers crawled up to him as he was eating and without a word, their eyes told the story of their hunger.
“I gave the two food and the next day more children joined them. Every day, more children came and one day, I was surprised to find more than 10 children, waiting for the small meal I shared,” he said.
Alulu approached the woman who sold him the meals and asked if they could start a daycare where they would charge parents Sh20 a day and provide meals and care for the children.
“She agreed and that is how we started the Chosen Vessels School. The children needed education,” he said.
Alulu started Chosen Vessels in a single room iron-sheet house in Kosovo area, as a daycare to support orphans and vulnerable children. Many of the children are from homes where the parents are infected with HIV.
When the population hit 157 children, he has was forced to open a second branch in Mathare 4B area.
Alulu said the school receives so many cases of vulnerable children who have been neglected because their parents, after discovering that they are HIV positive, lost hope and started abusing drugs.
“Today, I have a student whose mother is admitted in hospital after her health deteriorated because she drinks as if on a mission to commit suicide,” he said.
“The mother does not eat but drinks herself silly and often fails to take ARVs. The young boy scavenges for leftover foods from the dumpsite.”
Alulu said Chosen Vessels has partnered with children’s homes such as Tree House where they take in children who have been neglected by their parents and have nowhere to go.
HIV continues to spread in Mathare slums for many reasons, but Alulu said parental negligence and drug abuse are the major contributors of the blowout.
“The children are the ones who bear the brunt because if a parent is careless, the child is left exposed,” he said. “The performance of children also deteriorates when they watch their parents suffer or when they cannot afford a meal.”
The children from such families, he noted, are often unkempt, withdrawn from their peers and mentally disturbed.
Stigma is very rampant in Mathare and everyone interviewed by the Star noted that they would never disclose their HIV status for fear of being discriminated.
“When a parent is insulted, the child is often included and equally abused. Many people here associate HIV with prostitution and women especially are victimised and that spills over to the child,” Alulu said.
“I have a child here who had dropped out of school because his schoolmates continuously insulted her because her mother is HIV positive,” he said.
Alulu said he teaches all the children about HIV and focuses of demystifying the myths around the virus that mostly leads to the stigma.
“I tell them how HIV spreads and let them know that it is not the end of life. Positive living especially from people who are infected helps change the narrative,” he said.