Posted December 29, 2012 from Kenya

The day began early with numerous phone calls to make sure everything we needed was in place. Well, just like the many ones before, some things worked, others didn’t. Meshack (a boy I am mentoring) and I met Maureen and Jerry her brother at Tender Touch Barbershop and Salon at Ayany Estate where we were to pick to stuff and get Ambrose to accompany us. Meshack had his work cut out. Since he wants to be a lawyer, his role was to see and get to listen to stories about boys his age. Ours was to shave, talk to the boys and share with them the Christmas spirit.

On our way to the prison we picked a cake from Syokau at Nakumatt Prestige then after picking a few things at the supermarket – a box of biscuits, plastic cups, knife and juice – we set off. As luck would have it, we met Pauline Wanja, who in charge of the prison and she had very good things to say about our work with the juveniles. Well, ours was an easy task – get in, shave the boys, talk to them after which we were to share the cake, biscuits and juice with them. This is easier said than done. It took us a whole four hours to get this done. By the time we were done nobody wanted to hear the word Christmas, juveniles and shaving. We just wanted to go home and crash to bed.

I am eternally thankful to the wonderful people who make it possible through their generous support, contributions, advice, time and energy they put into the programme in general. Since we began in late July 2012, a lot of good things have happened. Many boys have given their lives to Christ, many have regained their freedom, many have reconciled with their parents and the people they had wronged. A few of them have been convicted for the offenses they committed while some of them are still behind bars as we try all we can to help them. Being in prison isn’t a cup of tea, neither is it a walk in the park nor something I would wish even on my worst enemy.

We have been able to help the boys go home after intervening in their cases. We have also spoken to parents over the phone and managed to convince them to visit their sons in prison. We have also accompanied parents to the court, sought for recommendation letters from schools and visited a number of very grateful parents. Only in one instance have we dealt with the men in these boys’ lives, the other men have wanted to have nothing to do with their sons. The rest of the people we have been dealing with are the women, the mothers to the boys. In a world where mentorship is needed now than ever, I strongly believe men should get involved in raising children instead of leaving it to the mothers.

The prison authorities report that our intervention is reaping fruits. Such kind of good reports need sustainability which means funding, human resource and a concerted effort from each one of us. I remember the first time I met the boys. Richard Onchuru, a lawyer whose assistance has sustained this dream this far, and I met the Assistant Prison Commissioner, Wanini Kireri. There I was, thinking I needed more resources and funding. But she was adamant that if I wanted to make a change then I had to start the programme there and then since she was convinced I had come at the right time and was therefore the right person to do it. At that time I was undergoing a lot of challenges which I am yet to overcome.

A lot of water had passed under the bridge and there we were – celebrating our first Christmas with the boys behind bars. Nothing was enough, nothing really is when you are behind bars. But we had to make do with what was available. We had three shaving machines and we got busy, after hours of toiling, standing inside the dingy hall, the time the boys had been waiting for came. One of the new boys who had spent a mere week behind bars shared with us his experiences behind bars.

“I was arrested for defiling a girl,” he said. “While what I have done isn’t a good thing I don’t like being behind bars especially on Christmas. But I thank you guys for coming to cut our hair and share with us a cake and juice. “

After this we cut and shared the cake and a glass of juice. About five hours later we stumbled inside a restaurant in town and had a much deserved lunch as we shared our experiences for the day. I am happy to have spent half the year and my Christmas with the boys. And though some of them have committed serious offences against humanity my conviction is that they deserve to stay behind bars, go to court and rejoin the society once they are free with dignity. These are our sons, our neighbours, our children’s friends, our daughter’s future husbands, our grandchildren’s fathers, uncles and neighbours. And much as they have done what is not right they deserve a second chance in life. They need our help. Who knows, through our intervention we might save tomorrow’s Kenyan man.

This can only happen to one boy at a time. I take this opportunity to thank each and every person who have helped keep this dream alive and afloat. I don’t know where I would be without your help and generosity. This is a difficult journey that only you made possible. I will be forever grateful. And as we step into 2013, I hope to get the funding needed and ask that you continue giving the way you have done this year. In 2013, the year of jubilee, we look forward to scaling greater heights and transform more lives through this noble cause.

Thank you so much for being there for us in 2012. May God bless you abundantly and may He supply for all your needs, now and forever.

Comments 3

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  • Olutosin
    Dec 29, 2012
    Dec 29, 2012

    I so much appreciate all your efforst, May God Bless you tremendously. Amen.

  • Jensine Larsen
    Dec 31, 2012
    Dec 31, 2012

    Dear Lifesong-

    What a joy to hear your voice here again. You have been busy doing good works my friend!! Congratulations. It makes our spirits a little lighter and freerer to know that there are wonderful men out there standing in support of their sisters and using their voice to make a difference like you. Thank you for all that you do.

    Wishing you a wonderful new year!!

  • JaniceW
    Jan 09, 2013
    Jan 09, 2013

    Jambo James,

    My heart soured when I saw your post. Your generous spirit and dedication to your brothers and sisters in Kenya continues to inspire me and is the perfect note on which to start my year.

    I look forward to hearing more about how you are transforming these lives. It all starts with one – one man who learns to respect his mother, sister, girlfriend, or daughter. One man who becomes a role model for the other men in his life. One man who represents the hope for Kenya's future. Asante sana for all of the good work you are doing.

    Mwaka mpya! Barikiwa sana, Janice