I met Joseph at the beginning of my first trip to Kenya. He was one of the street boys on the main street of Nanyuki.
He is notable, because at 18 he is a little bit older than most of the other boys. He has also abstained from glue use which is no small feat for a street boy of his age.
Joseph has been out of school for a really long time and the idea of him going back was quickly ruled out as an option because of his age and lack of academic interest.
Joseph does have some marketable skills however. His father was a shoe repairman and before he died he taught Joseph how to repair shoes. The death of his father left him with nothing but a large family to support. He immediately took to the street begging for money and food everyday.
Upon becoming close with his group of friends I was made aware that he had the skills to polish and repair shoes, he only lacked the equipment.
After consulting with social workers and verifying his claim I gave him a small loan (he never actually touched the money but I got him the equipment) to start up his shoe repair business. A loan which he is slowly repaying.
Four months later (after I returned to Kenya) I had a chance to go by his stand and found him busy repairing shoes. He is not going to make a lot of money doing this, but he earns enough to support himself and contribute to the well being of his family. He has gone from standing on the street everyday asking for handouts, to supporting himself.
(Joseph at his post)
The difference in his appearance was noticeable. He has gained confidence and as he explained “I am working hard everyday”.
He has ambitious plans to build an awning over his bench so he can continue working even when it rains. I am proud to know him.