By Sally Kivaya
Sometimes referred to as “Far East”, Kayole has had its fair share of misfortunes in the past years. With issues such as increased crime rates, unemployment, inadequate water supply, lack of proper sanitation, poor infrastructure, lack of public spaces and extra judicial killings, Kayole has long been considered a dangerous place to live in to the outside eye.
According to the area chief Danvas Mogire,Kayole is home to approximately 900,000people or more, with a huge percentage of the population being young people. Most of these young people are unemployed or work as masons, garbage collectors, touts, hairdressers and many more. But unfortunately a number of youths also go astray and engage in criminal activities, posing a great threat to the security of the community of Kayole and its surroundings.
Due to the increased crimes rates, a lot of youths lose their lives to extra judicial killings and gang related attacks. This is why a number of youths in Kayole decided to come together and make positive changes in the community.
Amongst them is Samuel Omare who was once a gang member. Born in Mathare North 1992, Omare and his family moved to Kayole in 2000 because the crime rate in Mathare was high.
By the time he was 13 years old, Samuel was already involved in petty crimes such as stealing from drunk men, and soon graduated to robbery, pickpocketing, snatching, breaking into people’s houses and business premises and stealing. The killing of his close friend who was a fellow gang member, drove him deeper into crime with an aim to avenge his friend’s death.
“We used to work under a Gang Called Alliance before Gaza. My best friend and partner in crime died in November 2011 at only 19 years from a gang war. The pain I felt led me to join boxing so that I could avenge his death. In February 2012,three of my gang members were burnt to death in Maria area. This made me rethink my life so I decided to join college in May 2012.” he added.
In 2018,Samuel Omare visited a youth group in Dandora reclaiming spaces and beautifying the environment, he decided he was going to do the same thing to make Kayole a better place. Together with other people they formed a group in 2019 called “Wahenga youth group”. The group’s objectives was to create a safe space for the young people living in Kayole, to inspire them to lead better lives and also change the communities’ perspective on the youth.
Impacting more than 500 young people in Kayole, the group’s achievements are not only felt but also seen. Taking it upon themselves to reclaim public spaces, create an art Centre where they nurture talents and also advocating against the human rights violations happening in the community has inspired more young people to form similar groups.
The positive impacts they make in the community are many, but despite this they also face a lot of challenges to make their vision of creating safe spaces. One of the challenges they face is financial constraints since a huge number of the group members are unemployed. The other challenge they face is lack of good will from the community who sometimes refer to them as thieves or do not accept their work because they are young people. Nonetheless, they are determined to make their visions come true for a better Kayole and believe that one day their hard work and sacrifices will pay off.