From Inmates to Ambassadors of Change

Submitted on Wed, June 18, 2014

Submitted by: Tsega Belachew on 06/18/14

"Prison is a reflection of society. We want the young people in prison to be ambassadors of change and not of crime." These words are from the founder of Nafisika Trust, Vickie Wambura Kairo. Wambura started the Nafisika Trust in response to an experience she had on a return trip to Kenya. While walking through her old neighborhood, she sensed that it was not as safe as she had remembered it. She could not put her finger on what exactly was different, but she knew something had changed.

After investigating, she found that one of the reasons was a population of repeat offenders, mostly youth, who continued to commit crimes after their release from prison. Wambura believed that the Kenyan penal system was not providing transformational experiences which helped inmates become empathetic agents of positive change rather than perpetrators of crime in their communities. She founded Nafisika Trust with that goal in mind. The Trust currently has various programs dedicated to education, entrepreneurship and placement run by volunteers. All members of this community, including the volunteers, gain hard skills while practising soft skills such as empathy for each other and leadership as they better understand how to to create positive change, create better livelihoods for themselves and for others around them.

Participants in the program have gone on to become valued employees, start their own businesses, and even become changemakers leading inspiring community initiatives.

This project demonstrates how the public sector-run Kenyan penal system benefited significantly from a social entrepreneur’s intervention that brought transformational experiences for the inmates and others so all the parties involved can build together towards lasting change.

Nafisika Trust's founder, Vickie Wambura, is an Ashoka Fellow elected in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and a part of the Future Forward Project, which aims to support and accelerate innovation for youth employment in Africa.

Want to learn more about innovations for youth employment in Africa or have something to share? Join us for the conversation! Whose job is youth employment in Africa? #AfricaYouthFwd Webinar and #SocEntChat 6/25

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