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Garbage turns into cabbage

Initially, they were popularly known for mugging people in Nyeri town.

The glue-sniffing street children would then sell mobile phones and other snatched items at a throw away price. They have lived and grown up at garbage.

But today, they have reformed and now spend most of the time in farm growing horticultural crops which has also helped in economic building.

Jesse Gakuo, 24 escaped from his father’s home in Ndaragwa three years ago, he joined other street children commonly known as ‘chokora’s gang’ in Nyeri town where they had formed a gang of mugging people.

Sixteen-year-old Kevin Kiboi and Joseph Mbiga, 19 also escaped their homes several years ago to join others on the streets.

It is until a programme initiated by Thunguma Youth Empowerment and Rehabilitation Centre known as ‘Drop – In Centre Programme’ which started in May this year that the over 20 street urchins joined and are now engaged in farming.

In the quarter farm which has been provided by Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in the town, the boys are now very active in farm unlike when they were very active in streets for the wrong reasons.

They grow sukumawiki, spinach, tomatoes, carrots and cabbages among other horticultural crops.

So far, they have planted over 1,000 seedlings of Sukuma Wiki which has brought good harvests as they use a Money Maker machine to irrigate the plants daily.

The harvests are used in feeding them and the other children in the rehabilitation centre.

“Here, we enjoy farming. We sleep peacefully on bed unlike in the past when we used to sleep on the streets. Police no longer chase unto us. We have reformed and we no longer go on the streets to steal,” said Kiboi who was one of the notorious muggers.

Mbiga says that they now known how to bathe and dress decently since they joined this programme.

They have also been helped them to join churches and they never fails to go to church every Sunday.

The centre also provides them with food and clothes as some of the basic needs.

The programme has encouraged them to improve mentally and physically.

Drop – In centre programme official in charge Stephen Njenga says that the programme has proven to be very positive since the children have also undergone counseling and engaged in learning of informal education.

The rehabilitation centre provides them with seedlings from their green houses which they transplant in the farm.

“We don’t take them directly from the streets but have to undergo various stages in order to fit in. We have also engaged them in dramas, artwork, comedies and counseling,” said Njenga.

Another initiative the street children have been engaged in is the rabbit keeping project.

The children have over 20 rabbits which they have been rearing and want to add more.

They started this project together with farming project which they have also enjoyed.

Njenga says that the children’s aim is to become prominent farmers who would be supplying horticultural goods to local and international markets.

He says that the demand of rabbit meat is always high and expects to expand the project more so that they can be supplying meat to the local hotels.

Although the programme is being hampered by lack of funds, the street children have aimed high and want to make a difference of their lives.

The children urge others on the streets to join them in order to start noble projects which can help them in future instead of surviving in garbage.

The official in charge of the programme adds that they are planning to add more horticultural crops of different varieties which are not mostly common in the area and expand rabbit project.

Joseph Mukubwa


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