There are many instances when hours spent with at-risk male teens who are in conflict with the law feels like a wasted effort. A typical day in juvenile prison often begins at 5 AM when my alarm goes off and a grumble vibrates from my belly. Much as I love my boys, waking up early in the morning after a few hours of sleep isn't a walk in the park!
Once I get out of bed, I take a cold shower and make sure I leave the house before 6 AM. That is the only way I can be in prison at 8. Leaving early also helps me minimize the amount of bus fare I have to spend in the morning. Since my pair of faithful leather shoes is getting worn out, it has begun letting in pebbles through the cracks.
After I alight from the second matatu (public means of transport in Kenya) I walk for 15 minutes. By the time I arrive at the facility, my shoes have collected a fair amount of pebbles and sand while a cake of brown dust clings to both my shoes and trouser.
Luckily, I am wiser than I was when I was starting out, thanks to my wife. I always carry a small brush that she bought me. After arriving in prison, I take off my shoes so I can do three things. I remove pebbles and the sand that I have collected from walking. Then I brush off the gathered dust from off my shoes and trouser. The other thing that I often do while going back home is by sugar cane.
Rescuing Just One At-Risk Male Teen is Enough
While doing this, I think about the inspiration behind Lifesong Kenya's work. One of my default -go-to motivation when I am facing challenges such as lacking enough resources and funding for our program is recalling what happened during one of our home visits last year (in 2019).
“Why do you bother with these boys?” the dad I was visiting asked.
“Giving your son the opportunity to reconcile with his family, the police and the person he has wronged will prevent him from becoming a hardened criminal," I replied.
“Don’t you realize that my son is way beyond saving," he continued. "Visiting my son in prison won't make any difference!”
Because I didn't give up , we went to prison together. A few weeks later, the person who had been wronged offered to drop charges, enabling our boy to exit prison much earlier. He later went to his rural home where he joined a local polytechnic where he is learning masonry.
As we sat in today's class, I looked at each boy. I knew that each minute spent, listening politely to each story leads to one thing.
We are making a DIFFERENCE in the life of ONE AT-RISK MALE TEEN who deserves it.
I know that there are many wonderful women, ladies, mothers, wives, sisters and grandmothers in this forum who are doing great things. What they often don't share is how difficult it is for each of them to continue doing good. I would like to encourage us to think of just that one individual whose life we are transforming and use it as an inspiration to keep moving. Just one person is enough. That's what matters the most!