Youths in Kibera turn to craft making to curb pollution
By Oliver Otieno
When we meet Kennedy Okal at Kibera, Kianda area, he is busy finishing up shaping a wooden spoon. As he tilts and turns the wooden spoon on a machine he begins to tell us the story of how he came together with a group of jobless youth in the area to escape a life of poverty and crime.
Okal, says when he came to Nairobi from his rural home in Homa Bay county over 10 years ago, he was full of dreams of how he would get a job and change his fortunes. Then reality dawned on him. With no job forthcoming, he teamed up with a group of 14 youth and formed Victorious Craft Group. They make jewellery and cutlery using recycled materials such as wood, brass, metals and waste bones from butcheries and slaughter houses. Some of the products them make include necklaces, bracelets, hair clips, bowls, salad spoons, key holders and earrings.
The group sells their products to the locals and export others. Through their business they have found a source of alternative income and are also fighting environmental pollution. The group makes between 30,000 and Sh10, 000 a month. The items go for prices ranging between Sh500 and Sh1,000. They channel some of the group bank account and use some for it to pay for rent and electricity bill as well as pay members.“We also train the willing youths for free so that they too can be employed and make a living on their own,” said Okal, a father of three. This has brought a ray of hope to the youth in Kibera as they have the opportunity to improve their skills in craft making.
Some of the challenges they go through as a group is that some of the machines are expensive and some of the group members have different works hence may interact the group’s expectation and also how they can produce large quantity of product.
According to Kennedy, he has no side hustle therefore; he fully depends on this job. This job has made him financial stable just as any other group member since he can manage to afford the basic and also educate his child. Kennedy seeing the impact of this skill he advises the young youths “there is no job or work that can challenge or defeat anybody as long as you follow your interest and passion then you will definitely earn a living from it.” said Kennedy. “We urge the government to come in to give us hand so that we can make the group to grow and also train more youths for this to become as their daily income. This will show some impact on the economy and also make the youth be productive in their society.” In addition he calls the government to provide the youths with job opportunity.