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Echoes Of Hope

An endearing, jovial smile hidden in a reserved and shy mien is the first impression that hits you when you meet him. An intern ICT trainer at our digital livelihoods department who has been impacting young people from the underserved areas of Kajiado County with ICT skills, his mastery of, and prowess in software development and computers is mesmerizing. He exudes an aura of serenity and a pinch of nerdiness. Meet Kelvin Wavomba.

His eyes betray a raw determination and willpower, born of adversity in life, to be great in life.  He was not always like this he says.

Fate turned Kelvin into adult life long before he could stop being a child. “Life was not rosy growing up and I was constantly at home due to fees.” he nostalgically recalled. That however did not deter him from getting cluster points to join higher institutions of learning. Through the help of well-wishers and access to limited bursary funds, he was able to finish his high school education “I got a C+ grade, something I had not anticipated with the challenges I had gone through. Even though I was relieved, I knew it was not my ideal grade,” Kelvin says.

He had passed the first hurdle and the next waited- there was no fees for his university education. All he could cling to was hope, hope that help will come. “ I had to think fast on what to do, and without any papers for a formal job, I ended up as herder earning ($30) three thousand shillings monthly,” he said.

Even though Kelvin knew that herding was not his calling and he would eventually transition to something big in the future, he had no idea what that “something” would be.  Call it an audacity of hope driving his desire to move to look for big opportunities. After working for three months, he quit his herding job and with Sh.7,000 saved from his salary, moved to Nairobi.

His destination was Kawangware commonly known as ‘Kakamega ndogo’. “I did not know anyone in Nairobi, leave alone Kawangware, but I wanted to be there. I had been told that would be like my second home,” he narrated. With his little savings going to renting a room, the next nightmare was how to get a job to maintain himself. Lady Luck gave him an immediate smile, because after just a week, his next-door neighbor alerted him of a guards’ job which applied for and got.

The immediate success birthed greed. He wanted to grow fast,  rules notwithstanding. He fell afoul of the law and was soon on the radar of crime busters. The proverbial fortieth day arrived sooner than he expected, and when the sleuths called and asked him to surrender for interrogation, he decided to go on the run. He was a fugitive from justice. “I had bought a few computers to set up a cybercafé back home as my exit plan, hence my decision to run. ” he continued.

It started raining and before he could know it, it was pouring. His cybercafé was wiped clean by thieves just after a month of operation. He could not also hold phone conversations for more than thirty seconds and lived in perpetual fear of being traced and arrested. “After the burglary in my cybercafé, I knew that I could not fight or run anymore. I just did not have the energy. My time was up.” Kelvin notes while in deep thought.  He however, for two years, managed to evade the dragnet laid for him. “When the investigations officer called next, I surrendered and made my location known to them. I was duly arrested the day after this phone call.”

At his trial in court, he pleaded with the Magistrate to allow him to go back to school as he was a first-time offender. After a two-month stay in remand, the Probation officer tendered a favorable report to the court, and he was given a conditional release. The Probation officer then linked Kelvin with Crime Si Poa who financed his entry to a Technical College where he is pursuing a Diploma in IT.  

Jovial Kelvin at main office perusing files during digitization of finance department.

“Kelvin’s story was different. There was something unique about him and I knew that he had reformed. He stood out as determined and we could not deny him the chance to reboot his life,” stated Ms. Flavier Mwika, the Prisons and aftercare Program Manager at Crime Si Poa. “We support returning citizens (ex-inmates) willing to go back to school like in the case of Wavomba,” she added.

Kevin has not only proved to be an innovative and stellar student leader in his college, but has been , during his long holidays, interning with us at the digital livelihood project in Kajiado County where his teaching skills stand out. He is deploying his passion to help and mentor young Kenyans on the adverse effects of crime while equipping them with employability skills.

“My past does not define me, and I am way better than I was back then.  On the flip side I would not have known Crime Si Poa who have been pivotal on my growth journey,” he said. “ I urge them to devolve all these services they are providing to the villages where many people are ignorant about the law,” Kelvin confidently says.

With our interview ended, Kelvin, the now tech guru, excuses himself to go back to the Finance office where he is helping digitize records. I can’t wait to record his next journey in life.

About our Prisons and Reintegration Program (Phoenix) – Phoenix deals with the well-being of inmates through well curated psychosocial, spiritual and life skills mentorship sessions within in prisons and aids in their reintegration back into the community upon release.

To support the Phoenix Program and ex inmates in their re-intergration journey, kindly visit: https://crimesipoa.org/donate-to-crime-si-poa/

Read Joseph Kangethe’s powerful story here : https://crimesipoa.org/hope-restored-in-a-second-chance/

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Nairobi West Prison Receives 133 Mattresses from Alliance High School


Crime Si Poa, in partnership with the Alliance high school student welfare group, donated one hundred-thirty-three mattresses to Nairobi west prison to improve the facility’s conditions.

The team was led and accompanied by their deputy headteacher. Mr. Karimi Mwangi and welfare teachers noted that there was a need for students to be exposed to the social dynamics and need to have them see what happens in the prisons. He further urged other schools to take the initiative.” Instead of burning the old mattress after the form fours leave them, it’s noble that we have them donated to the prisons after they have been given voluntarily by the students,” said Mr. Karimi. “You cannot know who will be in prison; when there, you never know what might happen. That’s why we decided to make an impact on those who are suffering,” Mr. Karimi noted.

Mr. Karimi Mwangi, deputy of Alliance High School, addressed the media during the ceremony. Image; CSP comms

The donation was appreciated by the welfare officers and team, who thanked crime Si Poa for the noble work that they are doing through their phoenix program. “The mattress donations that we have received are quite a help since we are experiencing scarcity in the prisons,” said Mr. Enock  Ogeti-Inspector of Nairobi West Prison.  Mr.Ogeto, who is also tasked with looking for partners and outsourcing donations, said, “I call on more partners to come on board and help us improve the situation in the prisons,” he said.

“You may not find or get 900 mattresses the capacity of our facility at a go, but a little help from different stakeholders will eventually meet our need,” he said.

Welfare officer posing with a section of the mattresses. Image; CSP comms

Peter Ouko, Crime Si Poa founder and executive director, thanked the students and the welfare team that made the event a success through their donations, “Leadership demands of us at any given time whichever school you went to. Instead of having the academic bonfire where people burn their mattresses at the end of the four-year course, the students of Alliance decided to keep their mattresses and donate to the society.”

He said that giving out what they are not using is one way to give back to the community. Mr. Pete also called on the criminal justice system to look for alternative ways of solving conflicts instead of sending them to jail.  “Young people’s lives are rotting within our prison system. If you look at Nairobi West, the majority are hawkers, car wash guys who are being kept here even though the constitution says anybody who is supposed to be jailed for less than six months is not supposed to be in prison,” he said.

An inmate getting the mattresses to the facility. Image; CSP comms

Crime Si Poa, through its constant engagement with the communities, has greatly reduced levels of crime in society by creating awareness. “We do not want young people to come here; we are mentoring and helping them to be better citizens in the community,” he narrated. “if you look at the numbers of people in prisons, almost 75% of the number are youths,” he continued.



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Answered Prayers.

When Ms. Flavier Mwika, Crime Si Poa-Phoenix program manager called Mr. Joseph Kang ‘ethe to go and pick a sewing machine that had been donated by Crime Si Poa from the Nakuru Main Prison, he was over the moon. He could not hide his joy as he mumbled words of gratitude. His prayers had been answered! “Tears dropped from my eyes. I finally had the chance to do something that I loved and I’m good at, I could not believe it, “he said.

Joseph, whose story appears in another article https://crimesipoa.org/hope-restored-in-a-second-chance/ requested well-wishers to donate a sewing machine to him upon his release after serving a 20-year jail term.

Kang’ethe receiving the sewing machine alongside welfare officers at Nakuru main prison

When we made a follow-up call a week after his release to know how he was settling down at his rural home, Kang’ethe was elated about the possibility of owning his own business. “I have rented a shop at our home shopping center-Murinduko where I’m going to run my tailoring business, something that is going to give me great satisfaction,” the excited Kang’ethe remarked.

He was also happy that the community had fully embraced him. “The church and community have fully accepted me back in the fold and I can feel and see their love in their actions, they are my clients at the shop, “he remarked.

Joseph looks forward to increased business once he increases his clientele base. “For a start, I’m grateful that I’m getting my livelihood from this. On a good day I can make $1 (KSH 100) from repairs which I’m grateful for since I’m not begging, he postulated.  He further said that he lives by hope since clients do not come by easily. “I live by hope, that farmers who go out in the forests and have clothes torn come back to me to fix them,” he apprehensively noted.

This has made him anticipate the rains as he also hopes to venture into farming to supplement the little, he is getting from the tailoring business. “I’m waiting for rains so that I can plant, I have prepared the farm and I’m just waiting to plant, hopeful Kangethe told CSP.

Kang’ethe has hit the ground running and started training two gentlemen from his village. He promised to dispense the knowledge once out to the youth while educating them on the dangers and impact of crime. “I took in two gentlemen who were just loitering at the shopping center, and I have been training them how to do tailoring, they have greatly benefitted from the two-hour sessions that I give them daily, like today I’m training them on cuttings,” he noted.

Joseph Nd’ungu one of the beneficiaries of his teaching said that he had benefitted from the training that he is getting. “I used to be an alcohol addict but now I look at the future with hope, thanks to the training I’m getting from Kang’ethe. I’m using time productively to gain life skills. This will help me secure my future,” he commented.

This is motivating Kang’ethe as he said that it had received good feedback from the parents. “Their parents are happy that their sons have had something to do and to keep them busy, “he urged.

His last sentiments, however, will remain inscribed in our hearts and made our faces beam with admiration as he reaffirmed his commitment to working hard toward the future.

“I am not afraid of starting again from zero. I am a hard worker and can comfortably say without a doubt that my future is bright.”

welfare officers receiving the machine at our offices.

Phoenix and Aftercare Manager noted that the organization is happy with the progress the tremendous Kang’ethe has made since. “I’m happy to note that Kang ‘the has greatly improved and his zeal towards improving himself, I also want to thank his community for not stigmatizing him,” she said.

Crime Si Poa continues walking with returning citizens in support through aftercare services, psychosocial support, and in some cases financial help to help them set up once they are reintegrated back into the community.

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Providing Psycho-Social Support in Kenya Prisons

When Crime Si Poa kicked off the mental health program early this year at the Kisumu Maximum Prison the reception was quite warm, with little hesitation from inmates to open up during the sessions. Inmates, however, became more interactive and found it easier to air their issues with time. 

According to Evans Ndigili, Welfare Officer, Kisumu Maximum Prison, positive responses from the inmates that include attitude and behaviour change are being recorded in the prison.  

“Thank you to Crime Si Poa for offering psycho-social support to inmates, especially through mentorship and counselling sessions. More than ever, hope and positivity can be seen among inmates enrolled in the program compared to before,” said Brian.

The mental health sessions address various issues affecting inmates. The sessions equip them with knowledge and tactics to handle stressors that come with imprisonment. The reformation program will run for one year in 8 prisons across the country hence will help ensure a successful rehabilitation process.

Eric, one of the 72 inmates fortunate to participate in the reformation program divulged how the sessions have helped him find mental peace.

“The topic on intrapersonal conflict is what brought me out of the hole I was in. I was overburdened with bitter thoughts and regrets. It was hard for me to come to terms with what my life has become,” shared Eric

Through the sessions, Eric, a former police officer turned convict, was able to share what was causing those emotions and ultimately address the issue. He was convicted of murdering his wife due to infidelity issues.

“I was an administrative police officer who was extremely reserved. I never used to open up about issues that were affecting me. I know now that If I had spoken out more I wouldn’t be here.” he expressed. 

Eric now embraces the art of sharing as he chooses to accept his fate and trust that no problem is permanent, hoping one day he will be out of the dungeons and speaking out against crime.

John (not his real name for safety purposes) is another beneficiary of the program who has learned how to avoid conflict through effective communication. He was convicted due to a crime he committed over an escalated conflict at home.  John was accused by his family of murdering his cousin who died under mysterious circumstances. According to John his threats to kill his deceased cousin, for allegedly killing his father, turned against him and led his family to accuse him of the murder.

“If I knew what I know now I would probably not be here. My mantra is to listen, digest, and then respond. “I have learned to be more patient with both the prison guards and other inmates as well,” said John. 

Having been incarcerated due to a home conflict that turned sour, John understands how a small misunderstanding can easily lead one to gallows. He is currently working on appealing his case.

Research has shown that psychological trauma faced by inmates while in prison highly influences their rehabilitation process negatively. Providing psycho-social support to inmates, is, therefore, a key element in addressing cases of suicide, reducing the rates of re-offending, and promoting successful reintegration into the community.


“Counselling Helped me Overcome my Rape Ordeal in Prison” 

At first glance, one can not tell what Fredrick (not his real name), an inmate at one of the prisons we work in, has been through. His blooming face and happy demeanour do not reflect in any way the physical and psychological trauma he’s fought to overcome rape ordeal the prison. 

Incarcerated at the young age of 19 years, Fredrick was in no way prepared for what awaited on the other side. His first encounter in prison almost threw him off the edge. As soon as he stepped into the prison, Fredrick became a target for the older inmates because of his young age.  

“I contemplated committing suicide multiple times. Something wrong was done to me. They put medicine in my porridge, made me dress like a woman, and raped me. I was later taken to hospital for treatment,” painfully revealed Fredrick. 

With such few words, he disclosed a harrowing experience that can never be erased from his mind. Fredrick revealed. From the first minutes of sharing his story, it was clear that he was still stigmatized from the experience.

“The incident messed up my mind. I didn’t understand why it happened to me. In my sorrow, I decided to lean on a friend and that was the best decision I ever made. It took continuous encouragement from the friend for me to heal from the trauma. I remember he kept repeating these words “It was not your fault, the abuse was not your fault,” sorrowful narrated Fredrick.

According to Fredrick, his experience taught him how opening up can lead one to the path of healing and inspired him to counsel other young inmates. Through counselling sessions, he began speaking to encourage and give other victims of sexual harassment hope. He also approaches new young inmates to help prevent the same ordeal from happening to them. 

“Despite my counsel, some young inmates, unfortunately, get trapped to sodomy. Some as innocent victims others enter into it of their own volition. Mainly to get better treatment, better food, and other benefits,” lamented Abisai.  

Fredrick has been conducting peer-to-peer counselling for the past six years and has helped some inmates desist from engaging in sodomy for material gain and many of the young inmates who were victimized to find peace. 

“Despite the efforts we put in, not all heed the counsel given. Unfortunately, we have cases of 3 people, who contracted HIV Aids and died which was very unfortunate,” he added.

According to Fredrick, reform programs like the one conducted by Crime Si Poa help reach out to more individuals who would never give him an ear. 

“There are people through mentorship offered by Crime Si Poa who have desisted from engaging in sodomy. Through this program I hope to expand my knowledge and skills to reach out to more inmates,” He concluded.

Vivian Mukumu, a partner psychologist in the CSP prisons outreach project (phoenix), disclosed that victims of sexual assault in prison are usually looked upon as being unmanly because they couldn’t defend themselves. This destroys their self-esteem and often drives them into depression causing them to withdraw from others. 

“It is difficult for such victims to cope after such a traumatic experience. They often require continuous psychological sessions to develop their self-esteem and learn coping skills to help them fully function again” Vivian explained.  

Mentorship sessions conducted in prisons often only reach a fraction of the prison population. To ensure other inmates also benefit from the program peer to peer counselling is key. People like Abisai play an important role in inspiring change in prisons.

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Scaling Up Engagement in Kenyan Prisons to cut recidivism

Mentorship at Nakuru Main Prison

In the last 2-months Crime Si Poa (CSP) has expanded its psychoeducation services to eight (8) prisons in Nakuru, Kisumu, and Nairobi cities in Kenya. This is an intervention to mental health disorders and recidivism among incarcerated youth in the country. 

The services initiated under the Phoenix Programme not only enable the organization to meet the need for psycho- support in Kenyan prisons but also help promote the overall wellness of inmates and equip them with profitable skills that will make them self-sustainable, subsequently helping ease their reintegration process.

According to Flavier Mwika, CSP Phoenix Programme Officer, the prison outreach program has been received with much excitement from both inmates and the prison officers who look forward to the upcoming mentorship sessions. 

“Initially I thought there would be little interest in our activities, especially among prison wardens. To my surprise, the community gave us a great reception and they have been so supportive to the program,” said Flavier, adding “Due to the impact created among inmates through psychoeducation services, officers have also requested for social support service since they are also facing issues related to mental health due to their nature of work.” 

The program is currently being implemented in Nakuru Main Prison, Nakuru Women’s Prison, Kisumu Women’s Prison, Kisumu Maximum Prison, Kibos Prison, Nairobi West Prison, Langata Remand, and Langata Women’s Prison in Kenya. 


The initiative entails mentorship sessions conducted by trained psychologists, spiritual sessions done by partner church organizations, and skills training sessions conducted by Crime Si Poa youth groups on the ground.

“We have partnered with psychologists who have agreed to volunteer in conducting sessions to create awareness on the importance of nurturing a healthy mental state. The program has also involved churches in the three cities willing to offer spiritual services to the inmates,” confirmed Flavier. 

Inmates have shown a positive attitude toward the activities. They have expressed interest in having counseling services. They have also trained other inmates who do not get a chance to participate in these activities. 

Paul Kibisu, one of the inmates at Kisumu Maximum Prison, is a jubilant person who has largely benefited from the program especially the social enterprise aspect of it through learning skills on bead making and soap making. 

“Inmates are just like any other person; we are not enemies. CSP should engage us in more activities that will prevent us from relapsing and going back to crime again. Someone regarded to be evil or bad can change and be of great impact on society. Some of us are prisoners due to crimes we committed out of peer pressure, bad influence, poor background, and lack of guidance,” said Kibisu. 

In the sessions held so far, the CSP team has noted that the majority of prisons in Kenya lack guidance and counseling departments. The few prisons that do have these departments, don’t have the capacity to make them active.

“Mental health continues to be an emerging issue in Kenya, especially among inmates, who are extremely vulnerable. The lack of psycho support in the prisons, increases the gravity of the issue, with cases of suicide, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder on the rise hence the reason why we saw the need to expand this program,” concluded Flavier.