On the night of January 23, 2012, a 24-year-old Kenyan man named Anthony Omari awoke to find machete-wielding thugs breaking into the Kenyan orphanage where he lived and helped to take care of the children. The Faraja Children’s home had at the time grown from a one-room shack in Nairobi’s largest slum, Kibera, into a decent property that had taken in about 37 boys and girls who had been abandoned or orphaned.
It was not the first time the orphanage had been attacked. It had been attacked three times already by thieves believed to be from a tin-shack slum not too far from the orphanage, and each time, Omari had fought off the attackers.
On the night of January 23, the attackers were able to break into the bedroom where Omari slept. And to protect the children, Omari threw a hammer at the attackers, who then responded by splitting open his face with a machete. Omari would later leave a hospital with an 11-stitch scar that ran from his forehead to his upper lip.
He recalled that during the January 23 incident, the attackers first threw a machete at him after they entered his bedroom at the orphanage but he ducked and it hit the wall. He then managed to fight his way outside. However, the kids woke up and started screaming. He then tried to get the kids back into their room.
“I’m trying to tell them to go back, but they were not listening, so I turned and was rushing to close the door, close them in,” Omari said. “That’s when I think one of them got me with that double-edged sword, he got me in the face. So it was painful for a few seconds. But I swung my rod again, I hit him, he lost the sense of direction. I managed to close the boys in and I passed out.”
A few days after the attack, Omari went viral on Reddit for his bravery. Ben Hardwick, a 21-year-old Penn State student who was in Kenya on an internship at a nearby organization, posted Omari’s picture and his fresh scar on Reddit after he had gone to visit him at the orphanage following the attack.
Hardwick first asked for $2,000 to help build a new fence to replace the wooden one at the orphanage but at the end of the day, he raised over $80,000. More than 3,600 people donated from all 50 U.S. states and 46 countries, the Associated Press reported at the time.
A few days after the attack, the orphanage bought new locks, hired two night guards, and built a new fence around the property. They later bought four dogs.
“Wow. We didn’t expect this. This is amazing,” Martha Bosire, who was running the orphanage, said. Bosire said she relies on donations to buy food, pay rent, school fees, and medical bills. Since the kids sleep on the floor, she said at the time that she will use some of the money raised to buy beds and other things for the orphanage. Omari’s incredible story also caught the attention of the local police, which started patrolling the roads to the orphanage more.
In 2015, it was reported that the orphanage had moved to a new location in Loodarak Kajiado county, which was much larger than the previous home. At the time, Omari had also graduated from college with a degree in civil and structural engineering. He had moved out of the orphanage, having started his own family with two children.
He said at the time that even though he has registered his own construction company, he still visits the kids at Faraja almost every weekend. But he was quick to add that he does not like to be reminded of the January 23 incident.
“I can tell you: it’s not done yet. Even my body has adapted. You just wake up at night to see if your kids are okay. It affected me so badly. I think I became very overprotective (with the kids),” he told upvoted.com. He however added that “things have been good” and he is hoping for the best.