A JOURNEY FROM CRIME TO SELF-EMPLOYMENT
By Diana Maweu
As a child, 27-year-old Francis Ombima dreamt of becoming an electronics technician. But as fate would have it, Ombima became an orphan living with his grandmother in Luanda, a rural area of Vihiga County in Western Kenya. He struggled to survive and barely received an education or training.
In an attempt to improve their livelihood, Ombima moved to Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. The residents of the slum live in one-roomed tin or wooden houses that serve as a living room, kitchen, and bedroom. And in like any other informal settlement, security is also a major issue in Mathare slums.
For Ombima, however, moving to Mathare seemed like the only path to success, but without formal education or training, he could not find employment. Like many youths in the slum, he started abusing drugs and engaging in petty crime to survive.
I used to make a living by stealing from people in Mathare. It is quite scary because you never know if you’re going to get caught, recalls Ombima, “I have had many struggles in my life and I would not wish my children to go through the same.”
Fast forward, Ombima is a married, electronics technician and a father of one thanks to the Enterprise Based Technical Vocational Education Training (EBTVET) project by Save the Children. The Programme, being implemented in Mathare informal settlement and Turkana County, empowers youth with market-driven vocational skills. The young people selected are placed under mentors over a period of five months for apprenticeship training, networking and business mentorship.
The youth are also equipped with Life Skills for Success (LS4S) and Entrepreneurship skills to enable them to effectively navigate their environment, identify opportunities and exploit them by initiating income generating activities.
The main objective of the project is to empower the youth with skills that they can apply and make a living while serving their local communities, explains James Kabau, TVET Coordinator, Save the Children.
Ombima is among a group of 200 young people who have benefitted from the Programme. And just like the others, Ombima has a job and is now using the skills he acquired during his training to do what he loves.
Francis had great passion to learn more about electronics. I gave him the opportunity and he did well. He is a go getter, has a lot of potential and he will be able to conquer the market, says Naftali Ogana, a successful electronics technician in Mathare slums who hosted and trained Francis.
Upon successful completion of the training, Save the Children offered Ombima a startup kit that comprises essential tools that have helped him to start off his electronics technician career.
With a steady source of income, Ombima hopes to get a better education for his son, improve the welfare of his family, and share the skills acquired with fellow youth for free. He is strongly guided by his personal mantra – forward ever backward never.
With this kind of training by organizations like Save the Children, we can be sure the youth will be able to employ themselves, generate their own income and there will be less crime in the slums since all will be busy, concludes Naftali.