Meet Irene Wanjiku and Samuel Mugure; a couple who called it quits after 22 years of marriage. Theirs was an experience of an ending anguish and contempt that stood in the way of the way of the rights of their children and more so education of their 13 year old daughter. After months of feuding, they agreed to solve their feud out of Court. Through CREAW mediation services, they agreed to set their differences aside and agreed on child maintenance. They tell their story of how mediation helped bring together their family.
What circumstances led to you to mediation? Wanjiku: My husband and I separated 3 years ago. We had been married for 22 years and had five children; four of which are adults and are already married. I was left with our 13-year-old daughter who is now in her first year of high school. When my husband moved out in 2015, it was extremely upsetting for all of us and we decided that he would never be part of our life again. We cut all means of communication and engagement with him.
Samuel: When I moved out I was bitter and my emotions ran high. My children were not talking to me any more. I was pained and did not know what to do. I did not want to cause more conflict so I decided to also cut them off from my life. Over the years, the distance between my family and I grew even bigger, there were more frictions and my children denounced me as their father and would not want anything to do with me.
What actions did you take as parents to end the family feuding?
Wanjiku: When our 13-year-old daughter graduated from primary school in 2017, I had no means to support her through to high school. I reached out to Samuel but he was adamant to engage with me; he did not pick my calls. As days grew for the Form One admissions, I was worried that our daughter would miss out. I was desperate; there was a need for a truce for the sake of our children. The thought of going to Court criss-crossed my mind but I had no idea where to start from and how much it would cost me. Again time was not on my side. I approached our area chiefs who tried to mediate on our issues three consecutive times but it failed. That is when I heard of CREAW and decided to approach them.
Samuel: I felt like the Chief was leaning on one side He was not neutral and did not want to hear my side of the story and so I walked out of the sessions. When I got a demand letter from CREAW, I also thought I would go through the experiences. At first I did not heed to the call, but after various calls from CREAW I agreed to the discussions. Deep down, I wanted peace between my children and I despite our differences as a couple.
What was the mediation process like for you both?
Wanjiku: At CREAW officers were so approachable and warmly. They were willing to support us reach an amicable solution. Initially I had a one-on-one meeting with our mediator and explained our issues but he called for both of us in one sitting. The first one did not bore any fruit and so the mediator reached out to both of us separately then there was a third meeting that brought us together.
Samuel: Seeing how we had progressed in our conversations, I was confident that we would finally agree on issues. Beyond that, all the further meetings were together allowing for an open talk and exchange of ideas how we could co-share our responsibility to our daughter. There were issues of her upkeep and maintenance but first we had to agree on her education. The mediator supported us in agreeing how to split the responsibility. I wanted a boarding school that I could afford which my wife agreed to. A month later, we both took our daughter to school. It was a joyous moment; my wife also agreed to visit our rural home, which was nearer to the school. This was after several years.
What can other couple learn from your experience?
Wanjiku: It was not an easy process but I am happy we resolved our issues. Though we are separated our key interest now is for the benefit of our younger child. I am at peace knowing that my daughter’s needs are well catered for and my family is at peace again.
Samuel: Initially I did not care whether the matter proceeded to court but now that I understand the benefits of a mutual agreement when it comes to our children, I appreciate the need for the out of court resolution. Mediation processes brings a sense of relief and opens the avenue to dialogue and we incurred no cost. The court processes would however be long and tedious.