August 28, 2008
and I returned from our latest trip, one of our nephews, Duncan, came
to see us. He came
to thank us for having sent him through college. He attended Maseno University
to become a secondary school Math/Physics teacher. He had finished
a year ago and got a local hire position which paid him
6,000/- ($92) per month for salary! He came because he has just received
an appointment as a regular
government secondary school teacher and his salary will now be 25,000/-
($385) per month. He was so
excited that he hadn't slept the night before coming to visit us.
of this bit of family information is that it illustrates how difficult
it is even for a youth who
does well in school and "follows all the rules" to get ahead
in Kenyan society. In Duncans case he was
lucky to have relatives who were willing to support him through college.
We appreciated his thanks.
But what happens here in Kenya when you don't have family to support
you in your young life's journey?
of our contract with the United States Institute of Peace, in conjunction
with the Laikipia Nature
Conservancy, we just finished three Basic AVP workshops in Kitale (a
town north of Eldoret at the eastern
base of Mt Elgon). The participants were youth living on the streets,
sex workers, drug addicts, etc. In
other words, those who have no family to support and guide them. Eunice
Okwemba, who was the lead AVP
facilitator in these workshops, told me that one young woman (16 or 17
years old) was an orphan and
already had a baby. A Pentecostal Fellowship with support from Norway
was working with these youth
and arranged the workshops for us.
On day one
of the first workshop 57 youth showed up! They had to turn away half
of them. Normally we
have 20 to 24 participants in a workshop, so 30 was already over the
limit. In the end we conducted three
workshops with a total of 85 youth. Eunice said that the workshops were
remarkable. As I listened to her
stories, two aspects came to the fore. First the "respect for self
and others", which they had not
experienced much in their lives, gave them positive hope. Then the "transforming
power" led them to
realize that they had within themselves the resources to change.
last day of the third workshop the youth, on their own initiative,
decided to have a closing
ceremony. They invited the government officials and media to attend.
Getry rushed over from Lubao to
participate and the youth presented a petition to the government to give
more peacemaking activities to
the youth. Two TV stations filmed the event, although I haven't heard
of anything being broadcast.
In the United
States young people have so many possibilities that it is difficult
to decide what choice
they want to make. Here there are so few possibilities in life that the
transition from youth to responsible
adult is fraught with discouragement.
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