The morning before our graduation, I discovered that thieves had tried to break into our shop. This being so, I went to prison with a heavy heart. Read This boy came back to share his journey and find out how my sadness was replaced by joy and peace.
More than two years ago, Lifesong Kenya began its first computer class. Two months after we began our programs, Tobias Odhiambo signed up for our program. At the time, we were only going to prison once every week.
Though we were struggling to raise bus fare and take care of our own needs, we recognized the importance of our program. We quickly learned that we needed to have something tangible other than providing handouts. That is how we got the idea to stay in prison from Monday to Friday every week.
While struggling to go to prison, we seldom thought that our work was of any importance. We would go to prison and leave feeling like we were drawing water from the ocean using buckets. Little did we know that one of the boys took us seriously and went on to join high school.
The morning before our graduation, I woke up in very high spirits. I went to our shop that doubles up as our office to pick up a crate of empty soda bottles. What I saw shocked me to the core. Thieves had tried to break into our shop.
Breaking and Entering
Since this wasn’t the first time this was happening, I felt deeply hurt. Within an instant, the sacrifices I have made to sustain Lifesong Kenya’s program in prison came flooding in. I thought about the graduation ceremony and how I had struggled to find money to buy soda.
I picked the crate of soda bottles and took them to the car. My wife realized how deeply hurt I was. When I arrived in prison, I went to buy sodas and went to our class. The 17 boys seated inside the classroom were happy to see the cake and the soda. The guests we had invited kept entering the room.
I looked around the room at the faces. These boys have become part and parcel of my life, and indeed the other staff members of Lifesong Kenya. Behind each boy lies a remarkable life story of exceptional young man being birthed through our REAM Program.
Truth be told, each of our boys has hurt their families, the people they wronged and the communities they belong to. Through our intervention, families have reunited with their sons after the people their sons wronged volunteered to drop the charges.
That is why our original class of 10 is graduating three boys only. However, we decided to share the cake and sodas with the whole class. Having struggled to secure this graduation’s cake and soda, we reckoned that our new class can eat cake and drink sodas in advance.
This Boy Came Back to Share His Journey
As our graduation party went on, a boy I don’t remember seeing entered. His white shirt, tie and grey pair of trousers made him stand out. He came just in time to hear me speak about what happened to our shop.
“I’m still fighting to stop tears from streaming from eyes,” I said. “Seeing thieves trying to break into our shop and office hurts me deeply. My wife and I have sacrificed a lot and I don’t like failing her.
“Every month, we struggle to come to prison and have this program running,” I continued. “Our shop isn’t making profit and closing it would be the right thing to do. However, the shop is a source of income to some of our boys and young men in our community.
“That’s the only reason why I can’t close the shop,” I said, swallowing in pain. “Please do me a huge favour. Take the lessons we are teaching and offering to you seriously. Do all you can to become better men of courage, integrity and character.
“That’s all I am asking from each and every one of you!”
Then the boy wearing the white shirt and tie stood up. What he said compelled me to ask for a hug. The moment I hugged him, peace, joy and satisfaction flooded my whole body. Click on the link below to read what Tobias Odhiambo said.
Hugging Tobias Odhiambo
As I walked towards where Tobias Odhiambo was standing, joy, relief, peace and satisfaction flooded my body.
Suddenly, I felt the dark heavy cloud of sadness hanging over my head dissipate. I felt at peace and grateful that I had one more reason to keep fighting for a just world.
It is a war that I cannot win alone and need you to get onboard. Together, we will provide a second chance that at risk teens need to get afresh break in life. Tobias Odhiambo is one among the many reasons why restorative justice works.
Lifesong Kenya and the boys we work with needs your support. Anyone – and we know you are one of them – who has a male son, a sibling or a neighbor knows that we can no longer push this under the carpet.
You and I have the opportunity to transform, not only the lives of these boys, but the many generations to come. Find out how you can plug in today.
For more information on how to support, please visit Lifesong Kenya’s Half Way Cycle page.