Barry Silah @obel_barry
W who is Faith Tanui and what drives her? I am a 29-year-old community development specialist who is passionate about youth empowerment. I am the first-born in a family of three and studied Information Technology at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) and Dickinson State University in the USA where I studied Community Development.
I have experience in developing mentorship programmes to improve the lives of boys and girls in the community. While at Pangani Girls High School, I realised my passion for helping people, which set me on a path to start my organisation – Pendo Africa.
As a Christian, I wanted to use my faith to help those who I felt were in need and through my church Immanuel Africa Gospel Church, we have done a lot around our community. I have received accolades such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship in 2016 because of my work.
I was posted to Appalachian State University in North Carolina. I have also received the Social Founder of the Year Award for my work. As an ambassador for the Women Ambassadors’ Forum, I have shared my work with other young women leaders across the world. I am also a delegate for the Kenya National Youth Congress, representing Kericho county.
What is Pendo Africa all about?
This is an organisation that empowers the youth for personal, spiritual, academic, social growth and economic transformation. Based on our research in Kericho county, where we are situated, the key areas we focus on are alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancies and girls who drop out of school due to lack of sanitary pads. We now want to look at boy-child mentorship around career development, life skills and understanding responsibility.
How did you begin this project?
We began in November 2016 when I was in the US pursuing an advanced degree in Information Communication Technology (ICT) at the University of North Dakota. I was involved in many community projects that opened my eyes to the kind of problems people were facing back at home. For me the biggest driver was the need; in my county we faced problems that did not seem to get proper attention.
Who does your project target?
Today our programme covers five counties, targeting youth between 13 and 24 years. This is because this age bracket is the most vulnerable. Our focus is schools and inner communities where access to proper information is lacking.
This lot just needs affection and understanding and that is why our trained counsellors deal with them through compassion and not judging. What Pendo Africa is doing is strategic because we zero in on needy areas and invest our time and resources there.
What would you describe as your biggest impact?
In association with I-Care Pads, we have donated 5,000 reusable pads over the years. This has a direct co-relation to girls staying in school during their menstruation cycles. We have roped in important institutions such as the church and community leadership in spreading the message.
In Kericho county alone, we have covered 11 schools. We will start a Girls Study Drive in Migori county soon targeting 100 girls. We have had sensitisation sessions through local radio. With the Boy Study Drive, we are seeing many young fathers now accepting what responsibility is all about and how to psychologically handle it.
Tell us briefly about the rehabilitation programme
This one has a special meaning because my own brother is a recovering addict and that was the reason I started it. He is, in fact, in charge of that programme and so far about 23 people have been taken through a 90-day rehabilitation plan. It is the first-of-its-kind in the county and is generating a lot of interest.
As Pendo Africa, through what we have christened Believe, Belong, Become, we do outreach programmes targeting schools and open barazas, where we talk about alcohol and drug abuse, which is a big problem in the South Rift.
What are some of your biggest challenges?
Funding for most of the programmes is dependent on aid, so this continues to be an issue. Apart from that, strong cultural beliefs are a concern that cannot be wished away and often complicates our work.
Poverty is another problem that complicates programmes such as Girl Study Drive and the alcoholism programme. Anyway, it is a work in progress and we try to learn as we go and consult authorities in extreme cases.