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Doreen Mwende’s ‘surprising’ act of honesty



Doreen Mwende, a resident of Kawangware in Nairobi, had the option of becoming at least Sh30,000 richer on March 31, 2021, but her proper upbringing couldn’t let her go the thieving route.

Forty-year-old Mwende, a casual worker in Kawangware, on the said-date saw Steve Muchai drop his phone while aboard a bicycle at Lavington area in Nairobi. Before she could alert him of the fallen item, Muchai had already cycled away.

Clutched in her hands, was Muchai’s Sony Xperia ZX, a phone whose price ranges between Sh26,000 and Sh43,500; for the premium model.

Firmly held in her hands, was approximately Sh30,000 (depreciation factored in) had she decided to take the premium phone to the black market. She chose to be honest: “I’d keep this phone until the owner finds it,” she said.

After one hour of cycling, Muchai, a telecommunications expert, arrived at his Lavington home. Every other thing was in place, except for his phone, which was missing from his pocket.

As reflex action would demand, he picked his second handset, which he had left at home, and dialled the lost phone. To his surprise, the line was still active.

On the other end, a woman with a seemingly lively personality, based on her voice, received the call.

“I was nervous. Imagine calling your own cellphone line and you’re not sure who will pick it up! The 26 seconds which it took the receiver to accept the call, were a few of the longest I have had in life,” Muchai told The Standard.

When Mwende received the call, she told Muchai that she picked the gadget when it fell while he was cycling.

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“I asked if I could meet him so that I hand over the phone to him,” Mwende told The Standard in a separate interview.

To Muchai, the value of the phone wasn’t his major headache. His worry was the lost contacts, the archived conversations, work projects and gallery content.

Assured by Mwende that he’d find everything in his phone intact, Muchai hopped onto his bicycle, a mountain bike, and left for Lavington Shopping Centre, where Mwende had directed him.

After nearly 15 minutes of cycling, he was at the local trading centre.

On calling his phone again, while making a sweeping glance at the centre to see which woman would raise a phone to her ears, he saw Mwende.

Dark-skinned, tall, donning a white T-shirt, a pair of trousers, and neatly plaited hair, Mwende signalled Muchai she was the one he was looking for.

Muchai hung up, and the first thing he told Mwende was: “thank you, where’s the phone?”

The 40-year-old calmly handed over the phone, which was in her hands. Muchai couldn’t believe his eyes.

To show how grateful he was to Mwende, he took to his Facebook page that day (March 31, 2021) to narrate his ordeal.

“If you are looking for an honest person to handle your chores, DM (send a text to) me in the inbox section for her number. Let us help Doreen make ends meet as we also try [to] help her rebuild her business,” Muchai captioned a selfie he had taken with Mwende.

Business affected

Mwende, a mother-of-two, is among the thousands of Kenyans whose businesses took the hit after coronavirus crisis hit Kenya in March 2020.

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Her fruit-vending business collapsed, and her stall at the Kawangware Bus Stage brought down. That marked the beginning of financial troubles, which pushed her to menial jobs for survival.

Her husband, an electrician, tried his best to keep the family afloat, but his earnings were too meagre to allow for comfortable living.

Mwende says earning money honestly is priceless to her, and that no weighty financial challenge can push her to dishonesty. The mother-of-two says her husband is equally an honest person.

“His honesty has resulted in him being elevated to the position of treasurer in his men’s chamaa,” she said.

Attempted phone-snatching

Mwende recounted how after picking Muchai’s fallen phone, boda boda operators at the Lavington Stage attempted to snatch the gadget from her.

“I had to tell them that I knew the phone owner for them to leave me alone,” she said.

She says since that incident, Muchai has been a personal friend.

“He has referred most of his friends, who are seeking temporary house-help services, to me.”

Mwende is now urging any well-wisher with a job opening that requires basic skills to contract her.

By standard

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