Scandal of the children who take chang’aa for breakfast
Pupils, some as young as six years old, are reporting to schools high on chang’aa.
The learners are served a glass or two of the potent liquor as breakfast by their parents before they dash to school.
Some of the parents like Mary Wambui claim poverty in Mathare slums has pushed them against the wall and being brewers of the illicit spirit, it is the only thing they can afford to fend off their children hunger.
“Getting breakfast in the morning is a problem and sometimes I just don’t have the time (to prepare breakfast). I prefer preparing my changaa early in the morning which I will sell and earn a coin and my son will have half or one glass, that will do no harm,” she told NairobiNews.
The problem is prevalent in Bondeni and Mathare Valley areas where chang’aa is distilled along the banks of Nairobi River before being supplied to estates.
The local administration and NGOs have however rubbished such claims and termed them as simple cases of parental neglect.
A teacher in one of the schools who requested anonymity said they were forced to summon several parents to school after pupils came to class drunk only to sleep through the lessons.
The schools have now teamed up with NGOs to offer free meals to the learners.
Jane Wangare, a children rights activist of Mission of Hope organisation said they had identified 10 schools in the slum where they were providing meals and subsidised education to children from poor families.
Isaiah Juma, a community health worker attached to one of the schools said majority of the children entangled in chang’aa drinking were raised by single mothers.
“Some mothers have become too careless to the extent of drinking in front of their children. This makes it more difficult to help the children out of such behaviors,” he said.
One such parent said getting food to feed her children had always been a challenge and therefore allowed her eight-year-old son to take a sip once in a while.