600 REFORMED

Nyali youths dump crime through dialogue

This helps young people reform than using excessive force to tame them

In Summary

•There is a need to empower the youth to enable them to get capital and start businesses to sustain themselves.

•Community called on to embrace the reformed youths for the reintegration process to succeed.

Some 50 youth, who are part of the 600 criminal youth that have reformed in Nyali sub county being trained on business opportunities at Ziwa la Ng'ombe on Tuesday.
FIGHTING CRIME: Some 50 youth, who are part of the 600 criminal youth that have reformed in Nyali sub county being trained on business opportunities at Ziwa la Ng'ombe on Tuesday.
Image: ONYANGO OCHIENG

At least 600 youths who terrorised residents in Nyali have dumped crime and reformed through dialogue initiated by Nyali District Peace Committee.

The committee has worked in collaboration with community organizations and religious leaders to lure youths. 

The programme uses dialogue to help young people reform than using excessive force to tackle crime.

Benta Natasha, 24-year-old, is a reformed youth from Kisumu Ndogo slum in Nyali.

Speaking to the Star, Natasha said she regrets her criminal life and involvement in drugs for about 10 years. 

The second born in a family of five was raised together with her siblings by a single mother.

The hardship they faced to get basic needs led her to that life to help her mother fend for the family, 

Natasha joined criminal gangs that used to snatch villagers’ belongings and later started selling and distributing drugs to Tanzania

“My family’s situation led me into crime and drugs. I saw my friends getting easy and quick money, so I joined them to support my mother,” Natasha said.

However, Natasha has reformed.

She has seen some of her friends being arrested while others were not very lucky as they were gunned down by the police.

“My turning point was when I escaped death by a whisker.  I was almost shot dead, but the bullet missed me. My friend was shot eight times and died on the spot. When I look back and reflect, I regret that life,” she said.

Natasha, a member of Maweni Divas Group, is among the 600 youths who have reformed after training from Nyali DPC working together with Kenya Community Support Center and the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

She said her reform journey was not easy because they had to deal with security officers whom they feared. 

On Tuesday, Natasha and 50 other reformed youths were trained on how to counter the stigma from society after dumping crime.

They were trained on business opportunities and linked to potential empowerment agencies including, Uwezo and Youth Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund, Nyali national government constituency development fund among others.

Mwalimu Rama from Kecosce said there is a need to empower the youth to enable them to get capital and start businesses to sustain themselves to avoid reverting to their past criminal life.

“We have talked to them and they have been directed on how they can access some of these grants and loans to empower themselves. We have journeyed with them and we remain committed until the end,” Rama said.

He said there is no need to use force in dealing with criminal gangs, especially juveniles because dialogue is the best way to avoid deaths.

“We have held several dialogues within the subcounty and managed to reconcile rival gangs,” he said.

“We were able to take them to the police who embraced them and so far we can attest that the crime rate within Nyali has reduced.” 

He called on the community to embrace the reformed youths for the reintegration process to succeed because the community needs to support businesses opened by these youths.

His sentiments were echoed by Ziwa La Ng’ombe assistant chief Benard Omollo, who said before the programme, he had assisted the police to arrest and jail several youths.

“Arresting them is not the solution because some were young people. We changed tactics and began talking to them. It has worked because many have changed and criminal activities have gone down,” Omollo said.

He said Nyali subcounty had become an area that everyone wants to bench-mark following the initiative put in place to curb crime and the rise of juvenile gangs.

He called on the community to embrace them back because that was his initiative to bring some of them to his baraza meetings

Edited by Kiilu Damaris

Some of the reformed youths share their experiences during a training at Ziwa la Ng'ombe on Tuesday.
Some of the reformed youths share their experiences during a training at Ziwa la Ng'ombe on Tuesday.
Image: ONYANGO OCHIENG
Benta Natasha during an interview with the journalists at Ziwa la Ng'ombe on Tuesday.
Benta Natasha during an interview with the journalists at Ziwa la Ng'ombe on Tuesday.
Image: ONYANGO OCHIENG