From great beginnings

My grandfather had been a well-known and much-respected village leader who worked hard to ensure that his family was provided for and his children went to school. Unfortunately, however, my father and his brothers abused this position of privilege and behaved badly, getting drunk and sleeping with other men’s wives.

My father’s drinking habit meant that he couldn’t work, and so he couldn’t afford to send my siblings and me to school. I managed to stay in school until primary 7, then was forced to drop out.

Resented and ridiculed

We were so poor; we had very few friends and nobody to help us when we were in need. It made it worse because we came from a family that had been the pride of the village; now we were a laughingstock – a family so poor that we couldn’t even go to school. Growing up in this way, being resented and ridiculed, meant that I had very low self-esteem. I was very nervous and always aware of what others were thinking and saying about us.

Seeking solace

I was desperate to belong and to meet people who understood what it was like to be an outcast like me. Unfortunately, in my quest to find people with whom I could identify, I fell in with the wrong crowd. I had been so ashamed of my father’s and uncles’ drinking, yet I found myself drinking just like them. I became rude and disrespectful, which got me into trouble. I could feel myself going down a path of destruction, yet didn’t know how to stop it. Eventually, one of the local church pastors came to my rescue. He introduced me to Joshua at Kira Farm Development centre and, thankfully, I made it through the interviews. Maybe at Kira Farm that I would find the solace that I had craved for so long.

A transformation – inside and out

I will admit that, at first, I wasn’t as committed as I should have been. When I arrived at Kira Farm, I noticed that the area was secure and fenced in. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to escape if I needed to. However, after two days I was settled, and thoughts of escaping didn’t enter my head again. The love that was shown to all of us, was out of this world. To think that someone would take the time to teach us how to use a flush toilet, give us beds with bedding to sleep in, and three meals a day amazed me!

The love, care and attention to detail was something I had never experienced in the whole of my life. I had never felt as comfortable and at ease as I did at Kira. It opened my eyes, but more importantly my mind, to a totally different lifestyle. My confidence grew and I started to change from the inside out.

Seeking forgiveness

When I returned home, I was determined not to return to my old ways and I had a burning desire to make amends and change my family’s reputation. The first thing I did was go to my grandfather and apologise for my behaviour and the damage to his legacy. My apology reduced him to tears; we have continued to get closer, we are enjoying our new closeness and I am learning a lot from him.

I joined a local carpentry workshop, where I was able to use the skills and tools that I had acquired at Kira Farm to make furniture. When there was no carpentry work, I worked as a builder using the building training that I received. It was while working as a builder at a secondary school that the headteacher noticed not only how hard I worked, but how I spend time telling the students to stop drinking, appreciate the opportunity for education that they had, and lead good lives. When the headteacher asked me about my life, I told him about my experience at Kira Farm and how it transformed my life. Before I knew it, he was asking me if I would like to attend school where I could learn but also share my vocational skills.

Student and teacher

Wow, what an opportunity to gain the education I had always longed for! I told my headteacher that the idea sounded perfect and I accepted. Since January, I have been able to go to school, but what makes me even happier is that I am now both student and teacher!
As well as teaching vocational skills, I am sharing the restorative approaches that helped me so much at Kira. I am now part of the school’s disciplinary committee, where I’ve been able to help the members to understand the principles, practices and benefits of the restorative approach. I’m happy to say that now the whole school is practicing conflict resolution, which is making school life a better experience for everyone.

Just the beginning…

During the Covid lockdown with schools being closed, I have been able to go back to my carpentry job where I’ve been training one of my brothers. My biggest challenge has been trying to encourage my father turn his life around. It hasn’t been easy, but I can tell that he’s noticing the change in me, and we’ve grown a lot closer than we were. I believe this is only the start of his transformation!

"Huge thanks to Amigos, all the wonderful people at Kira Farm who took care of me so well and to my sponsors for making this transformation possible. You will never be forgotten."