Kenya’s Re4mists Are Changing the Country’s Slums
Former inmates of Kenya created the Re4mist organization to reform the slums of Nairobi, so others do not go down the same path they did.
The Re4mist Crime Kwetu Si Poa (To Us Crime Is Not Good) organization of Kenya is “committed to advocating for a crime-free, peaceful and sustainable society as a way of ensuring dignity to the daily lives of the youth in the society.” They are guided by seven core values: community service, innovation, excellence, integrity, diversity, commitment and recognition and support of individual talents.
The Re4mist was formed by former prisoners who were determined to be productive and contributive citizens once released. But they also wanted to ensure others did not go down the path they had in the first place. Therefore, their focus is the Nairobi slums that breed crime.
“We are so grateful to the Way to Happiness organization for the educational materials that we have received so far. They have gone a long way to transform the lives of a number of people in our communities.”
The project management team at Re4mist designed a program dubbed “Building Safer Communities” to help prevent crime before it even happens and lessen drug and substance abuse, school dropouts, teen pregnancy and the degradation of the slum areas. They use awareness raising, productivity and skill enhancement to empower those in the city’s slums.
The Way to Happiness educational materials came just at the right time to enrich the program. As the head of the group said, “We are so grateful to the Way to Happiness organization for the educational materials that we have received so far. They have gone a long way to transform the lives of a number of people in our communities.”
The two key focus areas for the Re4mists are schools and prisons. They started in four prisons, two for women, one for men and one for juveniles. At each prison they spent the entire day with inmates and prison wardens going over the content of The Way to Happiness booklet. Inmates were sharing, of learning the 21 precepts, such statements as, “If I could have only observed this, I could not have ended up here.”
At the Kamae Girls Borstal Institution, they started with 30 girls, many detained due to drug and substance abuse. First they took all the girls through the 21 precepts, including Precept 2, “Be Temperate,” starting with point 1, “Do not take harmful drugs.” They were split into five smaller groups and each assigned a precept to look into more in-depth and to return with a presentation on that precept to the entire group. Each week the seminars will continue until every precept is covered.
They also wanted to reach into the community and so partnered with the Mathare Children’s Fund Panairobi Organization, which sponsors the education of children drawn from the slums. They further collaborated with Acclaim Community Transformers, a group formed by two people that grew up in the Mathare slum, who instead of leaving it after finishing school, stayed to make their career “caring for the hurting, ill and desperate” of the slum.
Together, the groups delivered seminars to 67 teens and youth in primary and secondary schools coming from not only the Mathare slum, but from other Nairobi slums including Huruma, Korogocho and Babadogo. The youth they worked with are exposed to crime, drugs and substance abuse from a very early age leading to early school dropouts and teen pregnancy.
But with The Way to Happiness as a guiding path for them, these Nairobi communities now have a brighter future.