School Mentorship a Major Boost to Social and Academic Performances for Pupils

One-on-one mentorship sessions held by Crime Si Poa psychologists in various schools have led to positive impacts on learners academic and social development. Through sessions held every week, in both secondary and primary schools in Kajiado, Kisumu, Nairobi and Nakuru Counties have help solve a number of challenges faced by pupils in schools.

According to Raphael a teacher at St. Gabriel Nahyeon Community Centre, guidance and counselling offered to student has help build a connection and trust among students and teachers in their school.

“Mentorship is the best modality when dealing with learners who have been affected psychologically, rather than canning them. These learners need someone from outside to talk to them and share their experiences,” he said.

Samuel Onyango a teacher at Friends Secondary School, in Dandora Slum, applauded, mentorship sessions saying they offered a structured, consistent time and space for teachers to better know their student away from a classroom setting.

“Weekly interaction helps learners develop a universal set of skills, goals, adaptability, and reflection that are necessary for success in school, career, and life. Through counselling and guidance, we have helped students especially those exposed to, substance and drug abuse, early sexual activities and crime overcome such vices,’’ said Onyango.

In addition to the personal connections made during one-on-one meetings, mentors have had access to content assessment data for each of their mentees. This has helped them collaborate with teachers to set learning goals across subjects for students as well as encourage the enhancements of students’ talents through co-curricular activities.

“These students have immense talents. The sessions you have been holding during this talent shows, are especially important. Students have been able to showcase their God-given talents something that is commendable,’’ added teacher Onyango.

The teachers acknowledged the impact of the mentoring sessions especially in curbing teenage pregnancy in schools based in informal settlement.

“Issues of teenage pregnancy among children in this school had become rampant. Since Crime Si Poa began counselling sessions here there has been a significant impact. We now have fewer case of teenage relationships. Students now focus on their academics,” Teacher Onyango concluded.

Information on what is happening with learners at a social and emotional level gathered from mentorship sessions has boosted performance in the classroom. The sessions have also helped mentors and teachers make informed decisions on the best interventions for students who may be struggling mentally and, or emotionally.

A date with MS. President Season 2 Contestants

By Calvince Otieno

On Mashujaa Day as the country celebrated legendary heroes, Crime Si Poa (CSP) was honored to host 6 final contestants of Ms President’s TV Show Season 2, at the head office in Nairobi. The purpose of the visit was to prepare the contestants on the topic of National Security, by learning the work CSP is doing in reforming and transforming communities into crime-free societies.  

The contestants from across the country included Pauline Odongo, Siaya County, Nuru Muhame, Kwale County, Bina Maseno, Nairobi County, Milkah Righa, Taita Taveta, Fridah Karani, Embu County and Angela Mbuthia, Kiambu County.

Speaking during the session with 6 final contestants from the highly contested TV Show aired on KTN Home, Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Director at Crime Si Poa, shared programs Crime Si Poa is working on especially with collaboration with the criminal justice system and the contribution it has made on matters national security.

“We are excited to host the final female contestants of the Ms President show and discuss pertinent issues concerning national Security. We hope the conversation we had during this session will prepare them for future high-level public service roles, whether elective or appointive, and contribute to making this country a crime-free society,” said Sylvia.  

According to Sylvia, Crime Si Poa is a non-governmental organization, anchored on three pillars, Inform, Reform, and Transform, hence such partnership will contribute largely to fostering good leadership, governance, access to justice and rule of law at the grassroots level.

“Our key goal with other organizations who are stakeholders in the criminal justice system is not to antagonize each other, but instead collaborate and find solutions to some of the issues affecting the community,” Sylvia said.

Rahma Ramadhan one of the Ms President finalists acknowledges the work being done by CSOs and especially Crime Si Poa of ensuring women and youth are involved in finding solutions to issues of security affecting communities in Kenya.

“Police reforms were informed by a lot of work done by civil societies. I am impressed by Sheria Mashinani project by Crime Si Poa. This is a great initiative geared towards ensuring access to justice for all is a reality,” said Rahma. Ms President’s show aims at increasing women’s political representation and participation. Women under this program are being exposed to leadership in various areas that the presidency handles from economics, governance and leadership.

Community Members Lead Anti-FGM Campaign in Kajiado County

By Calvince Otieno

In Kajiado County Female Genital Mutilation, (FGM) is prevalent and forced on young girls despite being illegal in Kenya. The harmful cultural practice has largely affected school-going girls. Most teenage girls drop out of school and engage in early marriage, after undergoing FGM. Crime Si Poa (CSP) in partnership with Kwetu ni Loitokot community-based organizations (CBO) are trying to end this vice that is deeply rooted in Masaai culture.
Speaking during a forum held in Loitoktok by Crime Si Poa (CSP) and Kwetu ni Loitoktok CBO, last week to facilitate constructive debate on how to eliminate FGM and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Kajiado, Patrick Bure, Assistant County Commissioner urged community members to drop harmful cultural practices such as FGM and gender-based violence that are retrogressive to the growth and development of the Community.
“As a community, we must come together, join hands with other activists and support the government’s drive to end cases of female genital mutilation in Kenya. We need also to have equal rights for all to ensure everyone lives a dignified life,” said Patrick.
In Kajiado County, FGM was perpetuated by the misguided belief that it instilled good morals and discouraged promiscuity in young girls. A belief that has been termed misleading and not backed by any scientific research.
“FGM and gender-based violence do occur because they are culturally supported in this community. A woman is treated like a child. There is a bad perception that a woman can be corrected when she does something wrong, by punishment. This is unacceptable and against human rights,” said Rafael, a member of the community.
The practice of FGM is illegal in Kenya, with the government pledging to eradicate it by the end of 2022, eight years ahead of the global deadline of 2030.

According to Moses Orundu, Sub-County Health Commissioner, FGM has largely contributed to Gender-Based Violence with one gender perceived to be lesser than the other. However domestic violence among families has also been fueled by drugs and substance abuse, especially among male counterparts.

“In this area, there is high usage of marijuana and consumption of alcohol. This has resulted in misunderstandings among family members, which end up being violent. The high cost of leaving has also pushed community members to engage in crude ways of earning a living. We need urgent intervention,” Lamented Orundu

Crime Si Poa and Kwetu Ni Loitoktok after the event met with Shadrack Ruto, OCPD, Kajiado South Police Division, and engaged in ways to protect young girls and women from vices such as FGM and SGBV.

“Unfortunately many locals are not willing to cooperate with the police officers including area administrations like the chiefs. It is important to work with you to create the much-needed awareness in this area to eradicate, FGM, SGBV, drug and substance abuse as well as empower our community,” the OCPD concluded.

Crime Si Poa is in the process of extending its hands to partner with other community groups in Kajiado County to sensitize the locals on issues concerning mental health, domestic violence, and FGM.

Balling with the Community: Providing Alternative Solutions to Crime and Drug Addiction

By Calvince Otieno

Last Saturday saw over 400 youth and community members, mostly street families, from the Majengo area in Nairobi took part in a sizzling football tournament dubbed “kicking off crime and drug addiction from society” at St John’s Community Center in Pumwani.

Organized by Street Changers CBO in partnership with Crime Si Poa and other community-focused organizations, the event was aimed at creating awareness of social issues affecting young people in the city.

Young people from the area hitherto infamous for social vices including radicalization had an opportunity to showcase their talent in singing, dancing, and acrobatics. The community also benefitted from free guidance and counseling services at the Crime Si Poa tent and a medical camp by CheckUps Medical Center.

‘’The health of these children matters, and as an organization, we have today decided to offer free medical checkups so that if one is found ill, he or she can start medication as early as possible,’’ said Dorcas Saina, Marketing Officer, CheckUps Medical Center.

According to Ruth Wambui, Project Officer Crime Si Poa, the tournament came at a time when most young people in the community are facing a myriad of challenges, ranging from, unemployment, drug and substance use, mental health issues, crime, as well as sexual and gender-based violence.

“Apart from ensuring we keep sane and fit; the event creates awareness of the effects of crime and substance use, especially among street families. We are also here to avail services such as counseling to help build better mental health among young people,” said Ruth, adding “A great way to spread awareness about mental health is by engaging in events in your community such as this tournament to learn more and connect with others.”

Ruth further urged young people to speak out against sexual and gender-based violence in the community.

Speaking at the event, Thomas Lindi from Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) cautioned the youth especially members of the street families against consuming tobacco substances, warning of their adverse effects on health.

‘’Smoking tobacco causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also increases the risk of tuberculosis. Young people, please keep away from tobacco substances,’’ Lindi pleaded.

Three teams, Pumwani Football Club, Young Achievers, and Zero Street participated in the tournament with the hosts Pumwani emerging as the winners after defeating Zero Street 2- 1 in the finals. The winners and runners-up were all rewarded with a new ball and trophy while the third-placed team got a trophy.

The Crime Si Poa street families project is aimed at the holistic reformation, rehabilitation of, and reintegration into the society of street children and is ably supported by the Schooner Foundation.

Stigma to Acceptance – Creating Safe Spaces for Mental Health

By Calvince Otieno

One notable outcome of the COVID-19 era is the demystification of mental health. Gone are the days mental health was labelled a “generational curse” only discussed in hushed tones and which required special exorcism. The era of locking up patients in dark rooms and feeding them through doors like caged animals is also gone.

These strides gained in the fight against the stigma associated with mental health, were widely acknowledged during the commemoration of World Mental Health Day forum organised by Crime Si Poa in partnership with Sarakasi Trust, Mental 360, NACADA, Kenya Red Cross, and varsity students among other stakeholders at the Sarakasi Dome, in Ngara, Nairobi.

The forum, preceded by mental health awareness walk in Nairobi, aimed at amplifying the voice of young people, on mental health challenges they are facing, possible remedies and avenues of available support.

Marking the international day themed “Making Mental Health a Global Priority,” Jacob Onyango from NACADA highlighted the adverse effects of drugs and substance abuse on mental health among the youth.

Issues of drug abuse are also issues of mental health. Drug abuse reduces psychological resistance, making it easier for individuals to give in to suicidal thoughts’’ said Onyango.

He encouraged young people to keep off drugs, noting that treating addiction is a costly and long drawn process. Onyango further called for increased psycho-social interventions, including establishment of more mental health facilities, to deal with the rising cases of mental health issues in Kenya 

Touching on mental health challenges facing varsity students including acute depression, occasioned by external stressors, Marcelyn Joel a student leader from JKUAT, stressed on the need for young people to take advantage of available psycho-social support services offered in learning institutions and like-minded organizations instead of taking extreme measures like suicide.

“Many students have difficulties in their academic journey. Though issues like poverty are family related, others like poor academic performance, peer and social media pressure, alcoholism, and drug abuse, are some of the stressors that affect their mental status negatively,” Marcelyn said.

Mental 360 CEO, Bright Shitemi, mentioned that although mental illness is more pronounced today than ever before due to the increased awareness of mental health issues as well as the increased pressures in life as our society progresses, more must be done.

Kenya is said to be lagging in awareness and treatment of mental health illnesses. Hence an increase in resources and awareness campaigns to build up support systems in the society is needed.

“Psychological support needs to be accompanied by economic empowerment. Most people dealing with mental issues also have economic challenges that inhibit them from accessing help contributing to the vicious cycle,” he said.

During the forum stakeholders urged the government to incorporate young people as well as survivors of mental health illnesses while developing policies that advocate for mental health. This is said to be a key demographic mostly ignored by the Ministry of Health Taskforce.

Martha Lee a consultant counselling psychologist from Crime Si Poa echoed sentiments from other speakers, adding that there was an urgent need for a holistic dimension in tackling mental health.

“1 out of 5 people experience mental health issues, depression and anxiety being the most common. We need to create more spaces for people dealing with mental issues,” lamented Martha, adding, “Positive associations in the environment such as a family keepsake, photos, or familiar objects can boost mood and a sense of connection.”   

She urged people to seek counselling as therapy can be beneficial for both the individual with mental illness as well as the other family members.

Crime Si Poa has since COVID-19 prioritized mental wellness as a core operational and programmatic issue with a fully-fledged wellness unit. The organization has also cascaded the same to all our activities in prisons, schools, and communities by creating awareness through psychoeducation and offering psychosocial counselling to the affected.

Peace caravan ahead of August 9 polls

Crime Si Poa this Saturday joined government officials, Kajiado County residents and other stakeholders in a peace caravan that aimed at fostering peace ahead of the August 9 general elections.

The peace caravan, organized by the Deputy County Commissioner, Kajiado North Chiefs, Beacon of Hope, Kajiado North Peace Ambassadors, and Crime Si Poa, transverse the larger parts of Kajiado county, from Ngong, Matasia, Kiserian, Ongata Rongai to Kware conducting civic education and awareness to promote peace and unity.

Speaking during the event Irene Were, Programmes Manager Crime Si Poa, called for community members to embrace peaceful co-existence before, during and after polls especially now that we have one week remaining to the elections.

“I would like to second what the speakers have said, your neighbour will remain to be your neighbour even after elections. Let us maintain peace throughout this electioneering period. Politics should not divide us,” said Irene.

Patrick Mwangi, Deputy County Commissioner added that the government is keenly monitoring the happenings in the region to avoid instances of chaos. He further called on Kajiado County residents to maintain peace and unity despite being a very competitive race.

“ in every election, we have winners and losers but that should not trigger violence even if there are those who lose feel dissatisfied with the outcome. We all have our lives to live, elections come and go, when we negate peace, even the things that we value so much will lose their values,” He said.

Street Conversations on Peace Kick Off in Rongai

By Fidel Castro

We are at a time when the political anxiety in the country has taken a worrying trajectory, with a rigorous campaign trail and a fast-approaching general election. With such a trend, Crime Si Poa has taken an initiative to engage the youth and members of the society in a street talk on crime and peace ahead of the August general election, in a bid to avert the possibility of violence.

This month the street conversation has been held along the Kware and Mandazi Streets in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado County. Encountering members of society, mostly the youth, has been an eye-opening expedition. We have come across raw issues affecting the community and what would be the reason for unrest in such a time.

 As we traversed the streets of Rongai, it was evident from our interactions that most citizens are pro-peace. They are trying as much as they can to keep calm. However, the mood set by political leaders in the country is to push communities to fight each other to gain political mileage.

“We are peace-loving people, no one wants to cause chaos, we are trying to sensitize ourselves not to cause chaos before, during and after the elections to avert our businesses from being affected by violence,” said Godana, one of the young business people in Rongai, adding “We urge our political leaders to caution themselves against using divisive statements in political rallies. This is what anger supports from different political factions and eventually causes violence.”

Entrepreneurs and business owners lauded the effort by Crime Si Poa to ensure a crime-free society, sighting the urgent need for expanding the good work to the interior parts of Rongai where crime has exasperated.

“I appreciate the work you are doing in our community; indeed, we should keep calm during this electioneering period and continue with our businesses after the elections are done,” Stephen Kenyatta, a garbage collector in Ongata Rongai.

According to the youth and the community members, most youth-related crimes during this electioneering period stem from the lack of job opportunities. The issue of unemployment continues to be a risk to the vision of attaining peace.

“The government should look out for the youth and give us jobs or at least create the opportunities. We are ready to do any work. The youth as well should take personal initiative and create opportunities for themselves.,” Allan Ngare, a business owner.

Crime si Poa continues spreading the peace message through available platforms at whatever cost for we believe that peace is a jewel worth paying the price for.

1200 Kenyan Youth Cover a 600km Walk for Peace

By Fidel Castro

Peace Walk in Nairobi CBD

Over 600 Kilometers were covered, with 12 counties across Kenya visited in 21 days, full of sweat, hunger, thirst, pain, joy, and finally fulfilment. This is the tail of the 1200 peace ambassadors who began their journey on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, preaching peace from Kakamega and culminating it with the final stretch at Sarakasi Dome in Nairobi.

Despite the long trek having a myriad of challenges and a couple of humbling moments, the final stretch was home. The young Kenyas led by a team of 5, took up a rigorous campaign in such a demanding political season. 

According to Yvonne Murugi, one of the members of the Peace Ambassadors Kenya, completion of the peace walk was made possible by the immense support they got from well-wishers and partnering organizations may it be in-kind, financial, or motivation. 

“Completing 600KM huge milestone for all peace champions across the country. Finishing the last mile was made possible by donations, support,  d goodwill from Kenyans. We were highly motivated by the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, “We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom,” said Murugi. 

Murugi further stated that with the fast-approaching general elections, a lot is expected from every citizen in the realization of the county having peaceful elections. 

“Peace is an invaluable asset, it can only be guaranteed by everyone playing their role. As peace ambassadors, we are doing our part of spreading the peace word across the nation. As a law-abiding citizen do your part,” added Murugi. 

Speaking during the awarding of the medals at Sarakasi Dome, Dr. Vincent Makokha, Director, Chaplaincy Counselling Psycho-Social Support, Kenya National Police Service assured the youth of their support as they continue spreading the message of peace. 

“As the National Police Service Kenya, we are proud of you. To fellow officers in the service, thank you for supporting young people throughout the entire stretch of the long walk by ensuring their security is taken care of to complete this noble cause,” said Dr. Makokha adding “We appreciate the great gesture from the church as well, your support contributed immensely to ensuring the young people are motivated to complete the tough walk.”   

He also expressed the need for the mainstream media to be present in such campaigns. “My call to the media is to tell the world of the great things the young people are doing. Stop showing the negative aspect only. This is one of the greatest ventures of this year by the youth. The youth is a huge investment in this County,” he lamented. 

Prof Joseph Galgalo, Bishop, Anglican Church of Kenya, lauded the efforts put in place by the young generation in spreading the message of peace, contrary to the norm of young people being commonly known for instigating and causing violence. 

“There are people who are giving hope, standing for peace and saying things can be different, things can be better and they have come together, particularly this group Peace ambassador of Kenya, to do several activities to sensitize the youth not to be used, and not to cause in conflict or violence Peace and unity in their communities,” said Prof. Galgalo. 

While receiving the peace walk flag from the peace ambassadors, Jacob Ouma, Deputy County Commissioner, Starehe reminded the audience of the terrible ordeal Kenyans find themselves in after every five years. The perilous and gory times when tribal conflicts and killings are usually on the rise and the pain of those times. He pleaded with everyone to carry the message of peace to their respective neighborhoods.

“We have a beautiful nation, only a fool can break down and distort such a beauty. We all have a stake in this nation and must protect it jealously.  No one should distance themself from this venture. Let us hold our hands together and push to the end. When we attain a peaceful environment all of us will be at peace. ,” the DCC concluded. 

The March For Peaceful Elections Begins

Over 50 members of Crime Si Poa (CSP) youth networks in Nakuru County today joined 1200 Peace Ambassadors in the Rift Vallley leg for a walk to preach peace ahead of the August 8 general elections in Kenya.

The walk that was flagged off in Kakamega on the 10th of June by Archbishop  Jackson Ole Sapit,  Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, will culminate in a major peace rally at the Sarakasi Dome in Nairobi on the 28th June 2022 after 21 days traversing twelve counties in five major regions with the peace message.  During the walk, the peace ambassadors engaged fellow Kenyans on the need to uphold peace before, during, and after the general election

The Nakuru leg of the walk which attracted large public goodwill was joined in Bahati Constituency by the local MP Hon Kimani Ngunjiri who implored the youth not to be manipulated by politicians during this electioneering period and encouraged them to continue advocating for peace.

According to Alvin Kisara, one of the CSP Nakuru County youth leaders, a clarion call during this peace walk is for the youth and the general public to shun crime, promote unity in diversity and accept divergent opinions, embrace oneness, and ensure peaceful and violence-free elections.

The peace walk aims at sensitizing communities on the need to avoid spaces where political players whip emotions and incite the public against one another for their own political mileage and self-gain. 

“We are excited to take part in the peace walk at a time we have begun seeing youth engaging in politically instigated violence and other forms of crimes in Nakuru and Kenya at large. As Kenyan youth, this is the best time to rewrite the history of the violent elections through leading by example and ensuring we protect and peacefully guard the democratic space in our country,” said Alvin.

“Crime Si Poa youth have been doing groundwork in ensuring young people, engaging in the August General elections whether as voters, campaigners and or as aspirants do not cause violence. Instead, they will be actively involved in violence prevention and cohesion promotion,” concluded Alvin. 

With the 2022 elections days away, a wind of political agitation is sweeping over the country causing tension and having adverse effects on national cohesion as well as the economy, something the peace walk hopes to mitigate. 

The walk is organized by the Peace Ambassadors Integration Organization (PAMBIO) in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government and Crime Si Poa.

Youth Call for Safer Cities in Africa

Youth in Kisumu City champion for crime free cities during the commencement of the 9th Africities 2022 Summit yesterday in Kisumu County. Over 100 youth led by the Crime Si Poa leadership team displayed and chanted strong messages calling for African leaders to ensure safer cities for development.

Young people in Africa have been acknowledged as key stakeholders and drivers of safer cities that will steer development, creation of opportunities for the youth and full implementation of United Nations Agenda 2030 & African Union Agenda 2063.

According to Peter Ouko, Executive Director, Crime Si Poa, there is a need for youth engagement in the implementation of government policies and approaches that will help combat crime to ensure safer cities in Kenya and Africa at large.

“Safer cities mean more investment opportunities for those who create jobs. Safer cities definitely translate to more job opportunities for young people. Because investors love predictability, they love security and availability of all the networks that can allow them not only produce the work they do but also ensure workers who work for them are safe and their product can reach the market safely as well,” said Pete adding, “Safer cites means better living and better living means we have to have less crime in our communities.”

Urbanization of African countries and especially Kenya, has seen rapid growth of informal settlements, accompanied by increased levels of crime, violence and lawlessness. People living in the cities face these vices on a daily basis posing a major challenge to the social and economic growth of the cities.

“Instead of young people involving themselves in crime, they should position themselves and take advantage of the opportunities arising in their cities such as the Africities event to make a living out of it,” Said Isaiah Okethi, Kamakowa Jamtaka CBO, Leader.

The Africities Summit 2022 brings together dignitaries and participants from across Africa that seek to strengthen the role of Local and Regional Governments as well as the integration and unity of the continent.