Kenyans have been moved by the story of Patrick Hinga, a man who was completely lost, homeless and drug-addicted, until a chance meeting with a former classmate, Wanja Mwaura, kicked off a major transformation and turned his life around.
Patrick had endured major problems with addiction for years, beginning with an expulsion from school for smoking cigarettes and marijuana. This began a downward spiral, with his mother at her wits end trying to help him, eventually taking him to a mental hospital in an attempt to curb his habit. He became well known at the hospital, running away and being re-admitted several times. “He complained a lot and said all they did was give him medication and treat him like a mental patient and yet he was not mentally ill and that is why he kept running away,” Patrick’s mother, Nancy, told SDE. “But when he was out of the hospital, he would walk around the neighbourhood completely naked, or he would rummage through garbage.”
While at the mental hospital, Patrick’s drug habit took a turn for the worse, he discovered a drug called Attain. “It isn’t supposed to be used daily, but because it got him high, he got addicted,” Nancy said. “It was only Sh2 (a few cents) per tablet. He even stole prescription papers and got them from chemists.”
With Patrick showing no signs of recovery, he finally ran away once and for all and began to roam the streets of Nairobi, dishevelled and out of control, getting drugs wherever he could. His mother still tried to help him by bringing him food. “We were always a spectacle; people would call each other to come and stare, laugh and point at us as we ate. I was known as Mama wa wazimu” (the madman’s mother).
Then one day on the streets, in the little corner he had claimed for himself, Patrick met his old schoolmate Wanja. She began talking to Patrick, who expressed his desire to get off the streets and start a new life. Wanja promptly checked him into a rehab centre, and found support and donations for Patrick’s treatment through social media. She was also able to give Patrick something to focus on after his recovery, helping him start his own business, a shop called ‘Hinga’s Store’.
Patrick’s transformation, after detoxing from drugs at the rehab centre and cleaning himself up, is incredible. He is grateful for the second chance at life that Wanja has helped him find. “I feel like I am a new man,” he told Daily Nation. “I pray daily, asking God to deliver me so that I am not pulled back to that life of drugs.”