Jerry, a 22-year old youth from Naivasha, Kenya, and his family have seen the bitter side of life. The family lived on a hand-to-mouth basis, at times slept hungry, and Jerry was constantly in and out of school. Despite the ups and downs, Jerry never gave up. When the opportunity arose to join a vocational training program, he grabbed it with his two hands. Jerry is now not only a trainer, but also an inspiration to his peers.
Jerry was born in an extended family that included his grandmother, mother, and a younger brother. He was brought up by a single parent after efforts to find his father proved futile. As is customary in his community, he adopted his mother’s name as his surname. His mother, the family breadwinner back then, hawked along the Nakuru–Nairobi highway selling food products. On average, she earned 60–77 euros per month , which was not enough to cater for the family's needs.
The family lived on a hand-to-mouth basis and occasionally went without eating any food. On good days, they could only afford two meals. Additionally, Jerry’s family could not afford a house and were accommodated by their grandmother in a house donated by a well-wisher. The well-wisher had a children’s home where Jerry’s grandmother was a matron.
During his school life, he would be sent home for school fees and would stay home for long periods before his mother could get money to pay. Despite the challenges, Jerry managed to complete his secondary education in 2018. However ,he was unable to get result slips and school leaving certificates due to school fee arrears.
After completing his secondary studies, Jerry used to hang out with his peers aged between 18 and 20 years old. With no meaningful activities, his friends started to influence him to engage in illegal activities, including sex, in exchange for money. He contemplated this for days, his conscience would not allow him to be involved in these activities.
Fortunately, a local pastor living nearby Jerry's home had been monitoring his movements and activities. In February 2019, he called Jerry to the church compound and had a few sessions with him. Additionally, he also provided food, and after the sessions, he would give Jerry 1.8 euros to help cater for family needs. In the evening, Jerry would go home to check on his mother. Since then, the pastor and the church hosted Jerry and managed to keep him away from the bad company until 2020. Sadly, the church reached a point where they could no longer host him due to financial constraints.
In October 2020, K-NOTE team introduced the project to community stakeholders and identifying youth and children at risk and victims of sexual exploitation. The pastor, who is also the community dialogue leader, identified Jerry as one of the beneficiaries because of his vulnerable state. As a result, the project supported him and he enrolled in an electrical installation course at Classic Su training institute in February 2021. The training took six months and he was taken through classes and short courses including life skills, reproductive health, and job skills training for a month. The training aimed to help him understand himself and his environment, communicate effectively and develop skills to handle customers. Jerry became the best student in his class and graduated in August of the same year after sitting for the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) NITA exams.
“For now, I have raised my esteem and confidence because I can confidently knock on the door, which requires my skills and negotiation, and be given that opportunity, unlike before, when I wouldn’t," he said confidently.
After the training on electrical installation, life skills, and psychosocial support, Jerry was employed at the institution in January 2022 as a trainer and currently earns between 59 and 77 euros monthly.
Jerry is now able to cater to his family's basic needs and also pay for his brother's school fees. Additionally, Jerry also moved from his mother's house in February 2022 and he currently stays with a friend with whom they share bills. Jerry’s health has also improved because he can afford to have a balanced diet. Gone are the days when I would go without food, "he recalls.
Jerry not only appreciates the help he has received, but he also hopes to set a good example for the youth in the community." I aim to motivate my peers who feel like giving up on life due to challenges and also pass on the knowledge I gained to others," he concluded.