Rescuing One Boy, One Piece of Sugar Cane At a Time

James Ouma
Posted February 10, 2020 from Kenya
Buying Sugar cane from a lady
Buying sugar cane from mothers gives me the opportunity to speak to their sons
Carrying a brush enables me to tidy up before our sessions with boys (1/1)

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Comments 14

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Elizabeth Ziro
Feb 10
Feb 10

Nice one James, a very inspiring story. Truly motivated.. One piece of sugarcane at a time

James Ouma
Feb 10
Feb 10

I am thinking my mantra should be... 'powered by sugar cane'. What do you think, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Ziro
Feb 12
Feb 12

Yes, yes
Powered by sugar cane sounds cool. Keep doing your thing.

Hello, brother James,

You are really a great writer and a storyteller. My mind began to create images as I read your story from the time you wake up til you arrive at the prison cell, and even during the conversation exchange of one father.

Wow, you are doing important work. Thank you for seeing the potential to these boys at risk. Thank you for looking beyond who they are and what they do. Maybe they only need someone to listen to them. The father you mentioned above already seemed to give up on his son.

Yes, one person is enough, especially when dealing with a traumatic past. Sometimes, one brave person is all the world needs to impact change. You are that one person, too, brother. And may you find inspiration despite the pebbles in your shoes as you inspire one person at a time. :) We need men like you who work with boys so they won't grow up being abusive to women, too.

Thank you for sharing!

James Ouma
Feb 10
Feb 10

Thanks Karen! I later learned that the that father is the son of a retired teacher who help me discover that I have a gift as a writer. It was so eye-opening that I met his grandson in prison, proving that what goes around always finds its way back!

Wow! Life does come in full circle. Thank you for sharing, and you're welcome, too! Please write your book already.

James Ouma
Feb 11
Feb 11

Karen, let me try. I may need guidance with this!

ARREY- ECHI
Feb 11
Feb 11

Dear James,
I like your final thought. Indeed, one person at a time is all we need to keep going. Thank you for making the difference in these boys' lives. One rescued boy at a time equals a safer space for women too.

James Ouma
Feb 12
Feb 12

Hello Arrey-Echi, we will keep doing our best to ensure the communities where our boys belong to are safer for women

Tarke Edith
Feb 11
Feb 11

Hello Mr James
You are doing a great job.brother
Taking the initiative to save this boys make us women feel better and keep up. thanks again dear brother.

James Ouma
Feb 12
Feb 12

Thank you Tarke. Let me know what ideas you have on how we can improve our program and ensure that women and girls are safe

Felicitas Wung
Feb 12
Feb 12

What matters most is transforming the lives of individuals and inspiring others.
Great!!!!
I love your writing style of telling the story

James Ouma
Feb 12
Feb 12

I agree and thanks for your comments

Felicitas Wung
Feb 12
Feb 12

You are welcome