Bishop uses birthday gifts to build a house for his grandmother

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The house belonging to 86-year-old Paulina Teriki during the official opening of Kapkitet Village in Eldama Ravine on June 18, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

For many, birthdays are joyful events where gifts are exchanged between friends and relatives; and some go on vacation.

After many years of spending thousands of shillings on her birthday parties and saving presents for herself, Bishop Margaret Tanui decided to celebrate differently this year when she turned 60.

Last Saturday in Kapkitet Village, Eldama Ravine Constituency, Baringo County, Bishop Tanui decided to gift his aunt a house she had built with cash donations and resources it had mobilized during the celebrations of its 59th and 60th birthdays.

She handed over the 850,000-shilling two-bedroom house to 86-year-old Pauline Teriki in a colorful ceremony.

Neighbors danced and rejoiced as Teriki got out of a vehicle decorated with balloons.

The car stopped and the air was filled with dinghies. While the women sang and danced, Gogo, as she is commonly known, was presented with a bouquet of flowers by young girls who were waiting for her, before being led to her new home.

Despite her age, Gogo shook her legs as she struggled to keep up with the music playing.

Teriki, a mother of four, said she never believed such a moment would come. She said what happened was more of a dream and she still didn’t believe it.

“It’s scary and shameful when a family doesn’t have a home. I can’t explain this feeling and I never thought I would own such a home,” she said.

Tanui said she visited Teriki 37 years ago and the condition of her thatched house was appalling. She said she wondered how she lived in the house because the roof was leaking.

“The house was punctured, the walls had nothing to cover it and anyone passing by could see it from the outside. It was pathetic and I thought I would give what little I had to support it” , she said.

She said she had promised to buy iron sheets from him to build a semi-permanent house. However, she left before she could keep her promise, adding that things never went as she had planned.

Tanui said she forgot about it and moved on. Later, she left and settled in the UK.

“In January 2019, my brother called me and informed me of the promise I had made to the lady. I remembered and thought what would have happened if I had not done,” she said.

She wanted to build a semi-permanent structure but a voice kept informing her that justice would not have been served after such a long wait.

April 25 is Tanui’s birthday and she lived to celebrate it.

“Usually on my birthday, people bring me presents, money and other gifts. I announced to everyone who was thinking of buying me a present that this time I had a plan. The support has been overwhelming and people have given what they have,” she said.

Tanui said she formed a group and tried to pool resources. Initially, the plan was to build a Sh500,000 house but it has grown to Sh850,000. Supporters are still helping to furnish the house.

She said the project was not for Teriki but for the community, adding that the idea was to show people that they can change someone’s life.

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