Mercy Esther was eight years old when she left home.
Raised by her grandmother in rural Tanzania, Mercy Esther and her siblings were born into poverty, sometimes without money for food, let alone schoolbooks. When their grandmother was approached with a job offer for Mercy Esther in Kenya, and the promise that money would be sent home, she accepted. The money could help Mercy Esther’s siblings. They might have a better future.
The job offer turned out to be a lie – the first of a string of broken promises that would deprive a young woman of her childhood and her family.
Mercy Esther was born with a deformity in one foot, causing a pronounced limp. On the streets of Nairobi she and other children were forced to beg. She was told to pretend she could not walk, to elicit sympathy from the public. Each day, what money she collected was taken from her.