A NEW RAY OF HOPE FOR THE YOUTH IN WAJIR COUNTY
A NEW RAY OF HOPE FOR THE YOUTH IN WAJIR COUNTY
Through the Conflict Prevention, Peace and Economic Opportunities for Youth in Kenya, the youth in Wajir County now have an optimistic view of the future. This is a project geared towards increasing peace and stability in Kenya by supporting youth to engage in economic activities. Through the Kenya Red Cross, the European Union has sponsored students to attend schools where they can obtain vital skills. These skills in turn help the youth earn a living while contributing to the development of their county.
Wajir County is located in northeastern Kenya, bordering Mandera to the north and northeast, Somalia to the east, Garissa to the south and southwest, Isiolo and Marsabit to the west, and the Ethiopia to the northwest. The name “Wajir” is said to mean “coming together” in the Borana language as the county is home to a number of clans and pastoral communities that used to congregate in areas around Wajir town to water their animals. It is no surprise that it is a place filled with opportunities of growth which have been fueled by devolution of the county government in the recent past.
Fardosa Osman is one of those who embodies the spirit of the youth in Wajir. “After High School, my family couldn’t afford to take me to college. At the time, we came across an advert on some scholarship opportunities which prompted me to visit the Kenya Red Cross offices here in Wajir and soon, I had enrolled for an electrical wiring course.” Fardosa is enterprising and identified a gap that would give her an unfair advantage “You see, few girls attempt to get this skill. I realized that if I became good at it, many organizations or people would be willing to give me opportunities because they would marvel at the rare sight of seeing a girl venture in to this space. I also knew that if I thrive, I will inspire other girls to take on this male dominated career.”
After Fardosa completed her coursework, she quickly landed a 3 month attachment. “I come from a poor family where none of us is educated. I see myself as the one who will empower my family both economically and intellectually”. From her attitude, you notice her proactive nature and eagerness to take on new challenges. “I now have work and it mainly involves the installation of solar panels. In Wajir, we have an abundance of sunshine and solar panels have been a blessing in catering for our energy needs. At the moment, I have reached ‘level-A’ in competence of skill. My hope is that I can get a sponsor me to complete level –B and eventually a diploma. I want to be the one who inspires other girls from Wajir County to take charge of creating their future. The European Union and Kenya Red Cross have changed my life for the better and I’m grateful”.
Numerous students from Wajir County have benefitted from the scholarships. Suleyman Saney, a Project officer for KRCS based in Wajir says “Many of the young men you see at Wajir Polytechnic were powerless to the point of desperation. With desperation, comes vulnerability where they are susceptible to recruitment by gangs who distract them from reaching their full potential”.
Among the skills acquired from the scholarships are Mechanical Engineering, Electrical wiring, Beauty therapy, Tailoring and plumbing. These are essential skills that are in demand in Wajir which is experiencing steady growth economically. In the past, some of these skills were so rare that during the holiday season in December, there was a standstill whenever there was an electrical wiring challenge.
Idris Ahmed Abdi is one of those who got a scholarship in Electrical Wiring. “Previously, I had studied an I.T course at a local college but was unable to get a job. It’s no secret that to access some of these opportunities, you need to have a good network. This can frustrate you a lot. In desperation, I took a chance in learning about electrical wiring and studied plus practiced for a year before gaining some competence in the skill. I am glad that my skillset is now in demand. I can now use it as a complimentary skill to my knowledge in information technology” he said.
The skills that the youth gain from these courses are in line with the needs of Wajir County and thus when they put themselves out in the marketplace, they find a ready market for them to make a living off. Halima Abdiza who works at ‘South C beauty Salon’ in Wair town says “We are no longer idle. The women in Wajir love to look good and we cater for that need with our skills. I no longer have disagreements with my parents over being idle, neither do I beg them for money anymore. I am happy and grateful for both the European Union and Kenya Red Cross for saving our lives from the jaws of desperation”.
The teaching staff at Wajir Polytechnic are equally grateful that they now have students to empower with new skills. Before this project came to Wajir, they had a little or no work during the day but now the school is buzzing with activity.