In August 2015, an 11-year-old boy Michael Otieno saw his family off as they started on a journey to Narok, not knowing it would be the last time he would see them.
Little did he realize that his life was about to change in the most tragic way possible.
Michael fell seriously ill and was unable to join his family on that fateful trip.
“I could not join them because of the illness, we still communicated over the phone and the last words my mother told me before I went to bed was that I would get better and she loved me,” said Michael who was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, a genetic disorder that affects the shape of red blood cells and their ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.
A call from his aunt later revealed that his family hadn’t arrived in Narok as planned.
She believed it was a misunderstanding, but Michael informed her that he was the only one left behind. The others were on their way to her place, or so he believed.
His attempts to contact them were in vain.
His aunt’s frantic search for the family led her to the last place anyone would want to find their loved ones—the morgue. It was there that she discovered the devastating truth.
His entire family had perished.
The news shattered Michael’s world, and he was left grappling with the harsh reality of being an orphan while simultaneously battling sickle cell anemia.
Despite losing his entire family, Michael displayed incredible resilience.
When his family considered taking him to a children’s home, he refused. He insisted on living wherever their household belongings were kept, showing an indomitable spirit.
His journey was fraught with hardship, as he moved from one family member to another, often facing mistreatment and rejection.
His situation grew so dire that he lived with his grandmother for a period. One night, his grandmother, unable to afford a motorbike, transported him to the hospital in a wheelbarrow.
His condition deteriorated, leading to a two-year hospitalization at Kenyatta National Hospital. Throughout this difficult period, he relied on the compassion and kindness of well-wishers.
A Catholic priest emerged as a guardian angel, providing Michael with the care and support he desperately needed. This priest took on the role of a parent, offering love and sustenance during his time of need.
Michael’s life changed when he was interviewed by Nimrod Taabu, a significant turning point. The interview garnered significant attention, resulting in the waiver of his hospital bills.
More importantly, it led to him finding a new family that embraced him with love and care. Although he had lost his biological family, he had gained a supportive and loving new one. Michael, once an 11-year-old boy left behind by his family, had found hope, love, and a brighter future.