About the Campaign
It all started in 2010 when I could visit Malezi School with an Amy of security. Grace Kavoi used to warn me that, ‘please do not get into the slum without giving me a call to come and pick you’. At first it seemed as a joke but it was real when on the first day she had to introduce me to the chairman of the Slum who handled my security detail every time I visited Kitui Ndogo and even today.
I probed further from the Chairman about the crime situation of the slum. He revealed that all the residents of Kitui Ndogo know each other and a visitor is identified quickly as such, an unaccompanied visitor can make at most 10 steps into the slum and what happens thereafter, your guess is as good as mine hence, the need for security by the same youth, of course at a small fee. I remember of the day when I took stationery and other school supplies, a donation by a well-wisher to Malezi School and I had to be escorted by 15 youths as security. That day, a policeman had been murdered by the gangs in the slums after he followed them to a dreaded liquor den with the intent of making arrests.
In 2012, a drainage system project was initiated by Christopher Lowman in consultation with the CEPACET and the community through Grace. Labour was sourced from the same youths in the gangs who it had become apparent that their lives were in danger every day they work up. They confessed that they were being monitored by the police as some of them were converting and joining Al Shabab to earn a living. This project became an eye opener, they collectively yearned for a decent livelihood free from danger. They realized that Kitui Ndogo was their home and they must participate actively in keeping it clean and showing their appreciation to the financial supporters (Christopher, Elli, Ziba and Sonali). The frequent meetings that they held to discuss about the trenches that they had dug and constructed bound them more together and used this opportunity to discuss about their lives as they will not be youths forever. They have young families that need them for food, clothing, shelter, medication etc. they had children who wished to know what they as fathers do for a living. A number of circumstances weighed down upon them to rethink about their lives.
During one of our impromptu supervisory visits, Mwangi, one of the youths approached Jared and myself and asked how CEPACET can be of help to them as they want to establish a group that can be meaningful to the society. We encouraged them to form the group so that our future engagement with them can be more formal. We also advised them to collect Kshs 10 from every household that uses the trench per week as a cleanup fee. They used this money to register themselves formally. It is now a group of more than 20 youths both male and female and they have ideas on how they can work and earn a decent living especially undertaking garbage collection within Kitui Ndogo and surrounding environs. They have since approached the area chief to give them authentication letters so that they are allowed to enter into neighboring middle class estate to collect garbage without being suspected as masquerading gangs.
They are completely transformed and ready to work for the community. In fact, we shall engage them fully in the construction of the Malezi School.