Who’s telling the truth? Muchiri, Bonfire counter street couple’s claims of exploitation

Blackie and Virginia before and after the makeover.

The interwebs have been on fire. A homeless couple who made headlines following a makeover during Valentine’s Day in 2018 are back on the streets.

According to Sammy (Blackie), he has been thrust back into the harsh street life with girlfriend Virginia Njeri following ‘empty promises’ from would-be well-wishers.

Speaking to KTN’s Lofty Matambo in an interview that aired on Tuesday 19th March, Blackie revealed that their lives only changed for a short period of time and that Njeri is currently being detained at Central Police for demonstrating.

READ ALSO: Glued for life: Kenyans blown away by street couple after romantic makeover

“Life changed for four months only. During that period, we were flown to Diani for a holiday, eating very good food whose names I can hardly recall. During the flight to Diani, I had thoughts of becoming rich as I saw God blessing us,” he said.

“I never thought I’d be back in the streets. It pains me whenever I sees pictures of the makeover. My friends in the street question me why I boarded a plane only to return to the streets.”

Exploitation claims

Blackie’s dreams of having a better life were however short-lived with the street urchin accusing travels and tours company Bonfire Adventures and photographer Johnson Muchiri of exploiting them.

According to Blackie, his claims were founded on being barred from entering Bonfire Adventures' offices during a visit alongside Muchiri.

However, when SDE reached Muchiri for comment, he countered Blackie’s claims saying that despite all his efforts to assist them, the couple were unwilling to change their ways.

Muchiri’s side of the story

According to Muchiri, the wedding photographer, the idea for a photo shoot was conceived around Valentine’s Day in 2018. “We wanted a couple who love each other but could not treat themselves on Valentine’s Day so we settled on a street couple. We were introduced to Blackie and Virginia (real name Zipporah) by one Laban.

“During our first meeting at Arboretum, I told them I was not planning on changing their lives but to treat them on Valentine’s Day,” says Muchiri.

READ ALSO: Street couple gifted luxurious holiday, five months' rent

After appearing on a local TV show, donations started pouring in for the couple. According to Muchiri, the funds were used to furnish two houses rented separately for them and to also cater to other needs such as food and transport.

The couple board a plane for Diani in 2018. Photo: Muchiri Frames.

Turned down job offer

Muchiri accused Njeri of selling a mobile phone and household items purchased by funds from well-wishers. “I never took a single coin contributed towards the couple. Virginia sold a phone bought by a well-wishers just two days.

“The landlord called me one day informing me that Virginia had sold all household goods she had been bought for.  Within two months I spent over 200,000 of my own money on them. At some point, I received a call from someone claiming that Virginia is pregnant with his child." 

The photographer further claimed that a well-wisher from Bomet County offered them a job and while Blackie turned down the offer, Njeri abandoned her job as a cook after just three weeks.

“Blackie fell ill at some point and after collapsing at a hospital, I was called and he stayed at my place for four days. I bailed out Blackie from Central Police Station after he was arrested for fighting. Someone even offered him employment but he didn’t have a driver’s licence as he’d earlier told me."  

READ ALSO: Jobless: Viral street couple expecting child

“Blackie was always on drugs and I started getting tired receiving calls to deal with issues that don’t even concern me."

Blackie and Virginia before and after the makeover.

“When he started badmouthing me, I decided I had too much and bailed out,” said Muchiri.

When reached for comment, Bonfire Adventure CEO Simon Kabu declined to comment on the issue.

However, Bonfire Adventure’s Managing Director Sarah Kabu addressed the accusations via social media.

“We paid six months’ rent and gave them cash to start a business. I don't know what else they want, we can’t feed them forever!” she pointed out.