Serious violence has doubled, and many young people are dying due to crime related acts including drugs and substance abuse. While law enforcement is an immediate response to this epidemic, creating space for youth to gain employability or entrepreneurship skills is key in addressing the challenge.
A report released in May 2023 by The National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), reveals that children as young as six years old are suspected to be engaged in drugs and substance abuse. The report shows an increased consumption trend among the youth.
On other crime related activities, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, put the number of jobless and idle youth in Kenya at around 3.5 million, indicating they are frustrated and more vulnerable to criminal activities.
Reports indicate that most young people are able to attend primary but drop out in high school due to poverty. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 30 per cent of the adult population in Kajiado County is unable to read and write. This means that many young people do not gain proper skills for employment once they drop out at the primary level.
Crime Si Poa has been building the capacity of young people on digital livelihood and soft skills in Kajiado county to improve their employability and ability to run their businesses.
“A strong aspect of our work is linking and preparing young people for gainful employment through entrepreneurship skills. With the world moving towards digitization, we work to provide them with competitive skills which improve their employability and income in the long-run. This, in turn, lowers the financial frustrations on the young people and reduces the likelihood of them getting into crime related activities.” says Mr. Peter Ouko, Executive Director at Crime Si Poa.
“We have targeted 30 youth in this Cohort 5, who will go through a 2-month training curriculum which will equip them with basic ICT skills, soft skills, and other employability skills. So far, we have trained 91 (cohort 1 to 4) youth in Rongai with more than half of them currently in employment and entrepreneurship while some went back to school to advance their skills,” says Ms. Phanice Kimutai, IT Lead, and Digital Livelihoods Officer at Crime Si Poa.
“We are seeking partnerships with organizations that can absorb these young people who have gone through the training, either offers them employment or hands-on skills through internship programmes,’ says Irene Were, Crime Si Poa Programmes Manager for community engagement, adding that the students will be awarded certificates of completion.
Purity’s journey from a young orphan living in a challenging environment to a successful receptionist in Dubai is a powerful testimony of hope, focus, and resilience. As an organization that encounters many young people from underprivileged backgrounds, Purity’s story stands out as a faith powerhouse that embodies the true spirit of perseverance.
Born and raised in an informal settlement called Gataka in Rongai, Kenya, Purity never got a chance to meet her parents, for she was orphaned when very young. “I may not describe anything pleasing about my early life as my peers do,” said the 23-year-old Purity.
At just seventeen and in high school, she got pregnant, and the baby’s dad could not take care of them. Trouble had hit home. “Hell broke loose for me, and I had to choose my next step. I quit school and started doing menial jobs to support my child as well as my aunt who I was then living with. I started working even before I could regain my health after giving birth,” Purity remembers with sadness.
Life had happened, and before she could rationally think of the next step, fate had mapped out her life like a movie scene and she ended up engaged to another young, orphaned man.
Their similarities had brought them together, but their dream of Romeo and Juliet moments died on the altar of newly added bills. “Life became unbearably difficult, and I had to go back to my guardian’s house as my then-partner could not sustain our primary needs. A 17-year-old would not have withstood marriage,” she chuckled.
Back at home, she learned about Crime Si Poa and the opportunities it offered youth from underprivileged backgrounds. She grabbed the opportunity as was enrolled in the very first cohort of the Digital Livelihoods class. She would attend classes in the morning and work in the afternoon to feed her son.
Even with this training, she still had an unquenchable desire that she wanted actualized; “I dreamt of completing my high school education, but the situation at home was not favorable.” She recalls. Talk of the audacity of hope; Purity approached and explained her desire to the Digital Livelihood Officer Phanice Kimutai as well as County Program Officer Halima Guyo, and together, they managed to get her a sponsor.
“We had planned to take her back to school after the ICT graduation, which she greatly wanted. I could see her resilience when interacting with others even outside of class. She was destined to be more than her present condition,” narrated Phanice Kimutai.
However, there was an issue: “At home, when I expressed my desire to go back to school, it was met with resistance, and I knew that I was all alone,” said Purity. She was offered two options: to either go to school with her kid, (an impossibility) or discard the thought and if she went ahead to actualize it, she would have to look for somewhere else to stay.
She was shuttered!
Amid the desperation, she heard of opportunities to travel for work in Dubai which she applied for. “The certificate I had gotten from Crime Si Poa after graduation came in handy and placed me ahead of other interviewees. I passed the interview, and I could now smile.” Said Purity. Today, she is a successful receptionist at a hospital in Dubai, a testament to the power of perseverance and hard work.
“As someone fortunate enough to witness many young people transform their lives through the power of ICT and employability skills, I am inspired by Purity’s story. Her determination and unwavering faith in herself makes her a true powerhouse. And while there are many more young people like Purity who could benefit from the opportunities that we provide, the reality is that resources are often sparse,” said Phanice.
Purity’s story shows the need for more benefactors to support programs targeting young people from underprivileged backgrounds to acquire the skills they need to succeed and grow for bright futures.
You can support the Digital Livelihoods program on this page: https://www.crimesipoa.org/donate-to-crime-si-poa/
Muungano building Ongata Rongai was a hive of activities on 19th April as 28 students graduated with ICT and employability skills under the Crime Si Poa Digital Livelihoods project. The ceremony brought together various stakeholders in the digital industry who came to not only celebrate the students’ achievements but to also support them through advice on successfully navigating the digital era.
During the ceremony, Mr. Anthony Atuko from the Digital Opportunity Trust, urged the trainers to maximize their God-given talents and take advantage of the numerous opportunities available in the digital era. He opined that there are plentiful opportunities in the digital industry, and individuals willing to work hard and acquire the necessary skills can both excel and achieve their dreams. He also promised to absorb five of the graduates to train them in data analysis and mining, which are currently highly sought-after skills.
Anthony Chege from Ajira Digital under the Ministry of ICT also urged the graduates to embrace the steep learning curve in the digital industry and seek help whenever needed. “The opportunities out there require you to invest your time learning and getting the relevant tools.” He noted.
One of the trainers in the fourth cohort- Kelvin Wavomba, encouraged the graduates to work hard and not give up on their dreams and ambitions. He shared his experience and emphasized that crime doesn’t pay and eventually catches up with an individual. This was a powerful message to the graduates, reminding them that hard work, resilience, and determination are critical ingredients for success in life. “You don’t have to engage in crime and end regrets like me, he said. see his story https://www.crimesipoa.org/echoes-of-hope/
Jackline Mugure, one of the program’s beneficiaries, was elated to have completed her high school education and acquired digital skills. She expressed her gratitude to Crime Si Poa for the skills they have imparted on her. Her mother, who was also in attendance, urged the young people to stay away from delinquency and criminal activities and focus on building their future.
Crime Si Poa’s Digital Livelihoods officer Ms. Phanice Kimutai, congratulated the graduates urging them to share the skills they have acquired with others who were not as lucky to be in the program, thus extending the program’s reach beyond the 28 graduates.
The digital livelihoods program is a testament to the fact that digital skills are essential in today’s world. The program has equipped young people from underprivileged families with employability skills in the previous three cohorts, making them marketable in the digital industry. The support from stakeholders in the digital industry and partners makes the already-in-demand training viable. To support the noble cause, visit https://www.crimesipoa.org/donate-to-crime-si-poa/
An endearing, jovial smile hidden in a reserved and shy mien is the first impression that hits you when you meet him. An intern ICT trainer at our digital livelihoods department who has been impacting young people from the underserved areas of Kajiado County with ICT skills, his mastery of, and prowess in software development and computers is mesmerizing. He exudes an aura of serenity and a pinch of nerdiness. Meet Kelvin Wavomba.
His eyes betray a raw determination and willpower, born of adversity in life, to be great in life. He was not always like this he says.
Fate turned Kelvin into adult life long before he could stop being a child. “Life was not rosy growing up and I was constantly at home due to fees.” he nostalgically recalled. That however did not deter him from getting cluster points to join higher institutions of learning. Through the help of well-wishers and access to limited bursary funds, he was able to finish his high school education “I got a C+ grade, something I had not anticipated with the challenges I had gone through. Even though I was relieved, I knew it was not my ideal grade,” Kelvin says.
He had passed the first hurdle and the next waited- there was no fees for his university education. All he could cling to was hope, hope that help will come. “ I had to think fast on what to do, and without any papers for a formal job, I ended up as herder earning ($30) three thousand shillings monthly,” he said.
Even though Kelvin knew that herding was not his calling and he would eventually transition to something big in the future, he had no idea what that “something” would be. Call it an audacity of hope driving his desire to move to look for big opportunities. After working for three months, he quit his herding job and with Sh.7,000 saved from his salary, moved to Nairobi.
His destination was Kawangware commonly known as ‘Kakamega ndogo’. “I did not know anyone in Nairobi, leave alone Kawangware, but I wanted to be there. I had been told that would be like my second home,” he narrated. With his little savings going to renting a room, the next nightmare was how to get a job to maintain himself. Lady Luck gave him an immediate smile, because after just a week, his next-door neighbor alerted him of a guards’ job which applied for and got.
The immediate success birthed greed. He wanted to grow fast, rules notwithstanding. He fell afoul of the law and was soon on the radar of crime busters. The proverbial fortieth day arrived sooner than he expected, and when the sleuths called and asked him to surrender for interrogation, he decided to go on the run. He was a fugitive from justice. “I had bought a few computers to set up a cybercafé back home as my exit plan, hence my decision to run. ” he continued.
It started raining and before he could know it, it was pouring. His cybercafé was wiped clean by thieves just after a month of operation. He could not also hold phone conversations for more than thirty seconds and lived in perpetual fear of being traced and arrested. “After the burglary in my cybercafé, I knew that I could not fight or run anymore. I just did not have the energy. My time was up.” Kelvin notes while in deep thought. He however, for two years, managed to evade the dragnet laid for him. “When the investigations officer called next, I surrendered and made my location known to them. I was duly arrested the day after this phone call.”
At his trial in court, he pleaded with the Magistrate to allow him to go back to school as he was a first-time offender. After a two-month stay in remand, the Probation officer tendered a favorable report to the court, and he was given a conditional release. The Probation officer then linked Kelvin with Crime Si Poa who financed his entry to a Technical College where he is pursuing a Diploma in IT.
“Kelvin’s story was different. There was something unique about him and I knew that he had reformed. He stood out as determined and we could not deny him the chance to reboot his life,” stated Ms. Flavier Mwika, the Prisons and aftercare Program Manager at Crime Si Poa. “We support returning citizens (ex-inmates) willing to go back to school like in the case of Wavomba,” she added.
Kevin has not only proved to be an innovative and stellar student leader in his college, but has been , during his long holidays, interning with us at the digital livelihood project in Kajiado County where his teaching skills stand out. He is deploying his passion to help and mentor young Kenyans on the adverse effects of crime while equipping them with employability skills.
“My past does not define me, and I am way better than I was back then. On the flip side I would not have known Crime Si Poa who have been pivotal on my growth journey,” he said. “ I urge them to devolve all these services they are providing to the villages where many people are ignorant about the law,” Kelvin confidently says.
With our interview ended, Kelvin, the now tech guru, excuses himself to go back to the Finance office where he is helping digitize records. I can’t wait to record his next journey in life.
About our Prisons and Reintegration Program (Phoenix) – Phoenix deals with the well-being of inmates through well curated psychosocial, spiritual and life skills mentorship sessions within in prisons and aids in their reintegration back into the community upon release.
When Ms. Flavier Mwika, Crime Si Poa-Phoenix program manager called Mr. Joseph Kang ‘ethe to go and pick a sewing machine that had been donated by Crime Si Poa from the Nakuru Main Prison, he was over the moon. He could not hide his joy as he mumbled words of gratitude. His prayers had been answered! “Tears dropped from my eyes. I finally had the chance to do something that I loved and I’m good at, I could not believe it, “he said.
When we made a follow-up call a week after his release to know how he was settling down at his rural home, Kang’ethe was elated about the possibility of owning his own business. “I have rented a shop at our home shopping center-Murinduko where I’m going to run my tailoring business, something that is going to give me great satisfaction,” the excited Kang’ethe remarked.
He was also happy that the community had fully embraced him. “The church and community have fully accepted me back in the fold and I can feel and see their love in their actions, they are my clients at the shop, “he remarked.
Joseph looks forward to increased business once he increases his clientele base. “For a start, I’m grateful that I’m getting my livelihood from this. On a good day I can make $1 (KSH 100) from repairs which I’m grateful for since I’m not begging, he postulated. He further said that he lives by hope since clients do not come by easily. “I live by hope, that farmers who go out in the forests and have clothes torn come back to me to fix them,” he apprehensively noted.
This has made him anticipate the rains as he also hopes to venture into farming to supplement the little, he is getting from the tailoring business. “I’m waiting for rains so that I can plant, I have prepared the farm and I’m just waiting to plant, hopeful Kangethe told CSP.
Kang’ethe has hit the ground running and started training two gentlemen from his village. He promised to dispense the knowledge once out to the youth while educating them on the dangers and impact of crime. “I took in two gentlemen who were just loitering at the shopping center, and I have been training them how to do tailoring, they have greatly benefitted from the two-hour sessions that I give them daily, like today I’m training them on cuttings,” he noted.
Joseph Nd’ungu one of the beneficiaries of his teaching said that he had benefitted from the training that he is getting. “I used to be an alcohol addict but now I look at the future with hope, thanks to the training I’m getting from Kang’ethe. I’m using time productively to gain life skills. This will help me secure my future,” he commented.
This is motivating Kang’ethe as he said that it had received good feedback from the parents. “Their parents are happy that their sons have had something to do and to keep them busy, “he urged.
His last sentiments, however, will remain inscribed in our hearts and made our faces beam with admiration as he reaffirmed his commitment to working hard toward the future.
“I am not afraid of starting again from zero. I am a hard worker and can comfortably say without a doubt that my future is bright.”
Phoenix and Aftercare Manager noted that the organization is happy with the progress the tremendous Kang’ethe has made since. “I’m happy to note that Kang ‘the has greatly improved and his zeal towards improving himself, I also want to thank his community for not stigmatizing him,” she said.
Crime Si Poa continues walking with returning citizens in support through aftercare services, psychosocial support, and in some cases financial help to help them set up once they are reintegrated back into the community.
The sewing machine is purring as another order for a customer is being put together. It is only two years since James Macharia walked out of prison after serving a 15-year sentence, and though the transition from prison life and back into the community was tough, James has put all that behind him and is gainfully putting to practice the sewing skills acquired while incarcerated.
Even though there is a presumption that sentences served are commensurate with the offence one is convicted of, and the Kenya Prisons Service prides itself as a correctional service of excellence in Africa and beyond, the reality is that Macharia, just like many other returning citizens (ex-inmates), find it difficult to get jobs or even finances to start business upon release to due to the much dreaded “certificate of good conduct” from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
“After serving many years in prison, I faced a lot of challenges including stigma when I was released. The hardest part was getting a job or even money to start a business with the skills I had acquired. I knocked on various office doors with hopes of getting assisted to acquire an electronic sewing machine in vain. In most cases all I got was empty promises,” reckons Macharia.
According to Macharia, days quickly turned to weeks, weeks turned to months and months to a year, without securing any financial help to start a business to sustain his livelihood. He had whoever vowed and determined to not give up or allow himself to relapse into crime as an alternative to earn a living.
“I almost lost hope, but when I remembered how far I had come from my former life in crime, I decided to push harder. Sometimes you feel like doing the unthinkable, but you realize that crime doesn’t pay. I choose to approach Crime Si Poa, an organization that was founded in prison and which is now creating change in the society. This was a game changer and a beacon of hope to me,” said Macharia adding “To date, I remain grateful for the financial help I got from the organization.”
Crime Si Poa through its empowerment initiative program granted James Macharia, financial assistance to purchase an electronic sewing machine that quickly helped him realize his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
Born and raised in Nairobi, Macharia was able to quickly identify a niche for a proper location for his business and establish a customer base. His decision to start his business in the busy Jua Kali area of Ngara, aided him to tap into the thriving matatu industry.
“I have skills in sewing attained while in prison. When I got out of prison, I didn’t want to waste the skills. I am happy that today I have a customer base around Ngara area in Nairobi. Most of the cool seat covers in Matatus are made by me. This makes me feel satisfied,’’ Macharia said.
Through partnership with The Answer Foundation, a Dutch based Christian organization that focus on holistically empowering inmates and ex-inmates through spiritual, pyscho-social and employability skills, returning citizens like Macharia, have secured a second chance in life, and are now also offering job opportunities to other Kenyans. This not only helps reduce recidivism but also leads to reduced crime rates in society.
Other than sewing and upholstery, the multi -skilled Macharia is also NITA certified mechanic, carpenter, and welder. “I am requesting those who have got jobs, to bring to me as I am qualified while my charges are pocket friendly,” concluded Macharia.
Crime Si Poa has always been on the front line of empowering returning citizens, to ease their reintegration into society.
James is proof of resilience, audacity, and focus. A model citizen worth supporting. You may call our office number 0741506060 if you want to place orders to, or support James.