The Valuable Lessons I’m Learning While Teaching Our Boys How to Fish

James Ouma
Posted March 27, 2020 from Kenya
Boys from our After-School Program experiment with acrobats (Lifesong Kenya File Photo)

I am grounded at home and to tell you the truth, I am not enjoying any bit of it. On the one hand, I am missing the boys that I work with through Lifesong Kenya. This is actually the second Friday and week that we have failed to go to prison and my heart aches for my boys who are not able to meet the outside world.

Apart from boys and male teens in prison learning essential skills and getting to know what is happening in the outside world - through their interactions with us, our weekly meetings also gives them hope that their freedom is nearing and very close. On the other hand, being in quarantine is enabling me to accomplish the numerous tasks that I am usually too busy to attend to. Leading an organization and being the volunteer, social media campaign manager and playing all the other role that comes with it isn't a walk in the park. Add to this to the fact that I am married and have to give my wife quality time, and you know why I consider this quarantine as a blessing in disguise.

“Just remember, you can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Flashback to 2 Weeks Before the Quarantine

Two weeks ago - before COVID-19 struck in vengeance - Kevin Odundo, a volunteer of Lifesong Kenya and I decided to pilot an idea that involves collecting and delivering stuff using bicycles. It is an idea that as come as result of desiring to provide a source of income to the boys that depend on Lifesong Kenya for bus fare (to and from high school), shopping for boarding school and pocket money. We are planning to use this to continue teaching our boys about earning an income, having a financial plan and saving for their goals.

So, Kevin and I posted a poster at our shop announcing that we were open to delivering Pizza, packages and everything else in between. It didn't take long before we begun getting orders to collect and deliver stuff. We delivered ground nuts, painting colours, parcel and fish! By doing so, we started learning what it takes to cycle and deliver goods and services as a courier cyclist. We learned how to get the best deals for Pizza, how to negotiate with security guards and cycle in traffic.

A few days ago, I received two calls from different courier companies that would like to give jobs to us! As we wait for the quarantine to end, I look forward to what the future holds. Even though we still lack the resources and funding we need to effectively pull this off, I am looking forward to these two meetings with hope, faith and belief.

Above all else, my life has become an adventure that wouldn't have happened had I turned a cold shoulder to this unique calling to empower boys in juvenile prison. As I seek to teach our boys how to fish, I am also learning how to become a better fisher! My destiny and that of the boys are tied together and we will learn how to develop wings that soar above limitations and make the world a better place!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLqCUF0xxNU

Comments 8

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Elizabeth Ziro
Mar 27
Mar 27

Hi James, always good to read from you.
You are so innovative and determined.
I pray that the meetings are fruitful and you be in a position support and reach more boys. It's my prayer the pandemic will come to an end ASAP so that we can all go back to our normal duties. Keep you and yours safe.
Kind regards from Kilifi

James Ouma
Mar 27
Mar 27

Thank you Elizabeth Ziro. We need to do all we can to ensure that our exceptional young men grow and become the best they can ever be!

Anita Shrestha
Mar 29
Mar 29

Dear James
Thank you for sharing

Paulina Nayra
Apr 02
Apr 02

Hello James,
How kind of you to devote your time with young people. And congratulations on your new venture. This reminds me of a movie about cyclists serving as couriers in an American city. May God bless you in your work . Stay home for now.
Huggs.

JULITON
May 07
May 07

Wao I may say as you love ur people you will be blessed to,

Chioma Nwaoha
May 07
May 07

Hello Brother,
Trust you are safe?
Thank you for sharing.

magg6789
May 12
May 12

Hello James,
Thank you for everything that you do. Your contributions mean so much to those in your community, I guarantee it. The impact your actions have and the lives you touch through them speak loudly about your kindness.
Thank you and best wishes.

Antonia Bih
May 14
May 14

Hello James your passion is so motivating. Keep impacting lives