This year, these same 25 young people are confident, reliable workers immersed in their second phase of training. Each morning, they go to work as apprentices to carpenters, welders, tailors and hairdressers. Every lunch hour, they eat together as a class and share experiences. Once a week, they meet Jitegemee staff for counseling, learning and support.
Mike Kimeu, our program director in Kenya, says this one -on-one mentoring provides a better education than more expensive, formal training, because youth get real-life on-the-job experience and build relationships that will help them earn a living in the future. Some students are already earning a commission from their labor.
“Taking kids to mentors in the field is working better than taking kids to vocational schools for training,” Mike says. “They are doing really well because the learning is practical.” It is a testament to the dedication of these young people—and to Jitegemee’s staff—that not one student has dropped out of this program.
Mike and his fellow teachers are now recruiting the next class through outreach workshops that Mike holds for the town’s street kids. This new class will be guided under the same principle as the last: once you master a skill, you will repay the program by serving as a mentor for another generation of youth.
Jitegemee’s primary schools students are also thriving, thanks to government-subsidized lunch, which has prompted a great improvement in their grades. “This term, the results are quite encouraging,” Mike says. Jitegemee plans to continue to provide free lunch for all our primary school children when this vital subsidy runs out.
Jitegemee is also developing internships for our secondary school scholars during their vacations. We hope that our students will soon volunteer in hospitals, law offices, or other institutions to prepare themselves for life after graduation.
Jitegemee would like to offer a special thanks to a group of interested professionals in Machakos who have formed our local advisory board, providing guidance, advice, and support. We would also like to express our deep gratitude to Safaricom, a Kenyan cell phone company that has given us a grant to help fund our vocational program.
By Farah Stockman and Mike Kimeu