September is special to me for very many reasons.

One of them is Daniel (Not his real name).

Daniel will be turning 20 sometime in September (to be honest I don’t know the exact date). This one will be special not only to him, but also to his friends. Birthdays are special. Special because we get to eat cake, our friends get a chance to spoil us, to celebrate us and most importantly, to wish us God’s blessings as we grow a year older. On a normal birthday, under normal circumstances, we would get to spoil Daniel, buy him a beer or two to welcome him to “Club 20”. However, this time round, it will not be the case.

Three years ago, Daniel was a young boy, looking forward to finishing school. As a form three student, he was one year shy of freedom. With only 365 days to plan for the freedom ahead, Daniel and his friends decided to have a taste of what freedom is. Peer pressure culminated into an involvement in a petty crime. It is during one of these “freedom moments” that law enforcers got wind of a scuffle between certain ‘rude’ kids in the local neighbourhood. On a chilly Saturday evening, Daniel and two of his friends were arrested for robbery with violence. What began just like any other normal Saturday, turned out to be a long, exhausting 6-month battle for freedom within the corridors of Justice. It’s been 3 years since, and in a few days, Daniel will be free. Free to do as he desires, as a free citizen.

But as a society, are we ready to welcome him back?

Daniel’s story is one of the many sad tales in our Borstal Institutions where young boys and girls below the age of twenty, who find themselves in conflicting situations with the law, are housed. It’s in this new highly under-resourced and under-staffed environment where such troubled teenagers are able to pursue their Education and acquire technical skills that can help them stitch their lives back.

Members and guests of the Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central at Kamae Girls Borstal Institution

Since 2016, the Rotaract club of Nairobi Central has been working with four Borstal Institutions under the Kenya Prisons to provide Curriculum textbooks, Technical schools learning equipment, basic hygiene products, and mentorship sessions to over 500 beneficiaries spread across the country. Every year, with the support of Jomo Kenyatta Foundation (JKF), Rotary Club of Nairobi and volunteers from Faraja Foundation, we visit Daniel and his newly found family, share a meal, play some sports and converse about life, politics, dreams, and the society. Together with our partners, we have been able to make donations worth over 8,000 USD (approximately 870,000 Kenya Shillings) towards the institutions. Each donation is informed by a simple idea that we all deserve a second chance in life. It is the belief that we as a society, have a role to play in helping these young men and women transform. It’s against this mindset that we have always sought to invest in their skillset, equipping them with basic technical skills that we need as a society.

Through the project dubbed ‘Elimu Magerezani’ the Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central seeks to;

  • To assist the youth in our borstal institutions across Kenya gain more knowledge and information on education and current affairs.
  • Reduce cases of repeat offenders and consequently, the crime rate in the country.
  • Equip libraries in borstal institutions with more books and writing material to add value to the student’s reformation goal through aiding in the creation of Borstal book clubs.
  • Assist in the development of personal integrity while emphasizing the value of individual responsibility and literacy through mentorship.
Members and guests of the Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central during one of our community service activities donating books at Shikusa Borstal Institution in Kakamega

As Wangari Maathai said, It’s the little things citizens do that will make a difference.

Our little thing is facilitating Basic education and literacy in our Borstal institutions.

What’s your little thing?

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Article by: Ambrose Mbuvi (Rtr) |President || Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central

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