Jack Nadel in Africa: Norman Mumbo and How Gideon’s Orphanage Shaped his Life
Updated: Jun 26
Newton Atela and Caroline Weda established Gideon’s to help the disadvantaged children of Ramba, in western Kenya, through a particularly difficult stage of their lives. Norman Mumbo is one of the fortunate individuals who met Newton and Caroline at a pivotal point in his development.
Norman’s Escape From a Life of Poverty
Norman grew up all over Kenya, his father was a policeman and as such was forced to relocate often, but he spent some of his childhood years in Ramba.
His childhood was an uncomfortable one with frictions and family issues that eventually proved too much for him. At the early age of 12, he decided that a life elsewhere seemed better than the one he was forced to endure.
So, he made a radical decision that would not immediately pay off. He moved to Nairobi, Kenya’s capitol, to forge a life for himself, away from his family. He stayed in Nairobi, living on the streets and scraping together a living selling scrap metal that was given to him by local craftworkers.
Norman’s life was precarious in Nairobi. So precarious, in fact, that he resolved to relocate again. This time, at age 15, he journeyed to Kisumu, nearly 7 hours drive away. Unable to afford the bus fare, he did so travelling underneath the bus, pressed dangerously and painfully, against the vehicle’s internal machinery.
In Kisumu, Norman and one of his close friends, Maxwell, were forced to steal to survive. They would wake at 4 a.m. to choose their marks. They would take scrap metal and sell it, just as they had in Nairobi, but this time around they did so without consent of its original owners.
In 2006, however, on a day not unlike any of those that had preceded it, Norman and Maxwell were discovered. Maxwell was shot with a bow and arrow. The projectile struck him in the chest and he died then and there, in front of a 16-year-old Norman. The experience naturally shaped him but his fortunes did not improve until the following year.
A Timely Intervention
In 2007, while Norman sought other ways to survive but felt himself without options, he was walking along one of Kisumu’s streets when a motorcyclist paused at a traffic light. The man stepped off his bike, evidently having recognised Norman, and called his name.
He took in Norman’s appearance, his dirty clothes and oil-stained hands, and told him that a better life was waiting for him. Norman recognised this good Samaritan as Newton Atela, a man he had not seen since his childhood.
Newton’s timely arrival in Norman’s life was the impetus he needed. So, Norman returned to Ramba, completed his education at Gideon’s and went on to college.
In July of last year, Norman graduated college. His life, once one of desperation and hardship, now looks set for greater things. His story is far from over and Norman is thankful of that. There was once a time where it did not seem as if the future held much in store for him.
There are millions of young girls and boys just like those at Gideon’s. Children who are suffering through no fault of their own. If you want to help them find their path to a brighter future, text JOY to 70085 and donate £5 per month. A small sum for a life-changing contribution.