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Administrator, Counsellor launch initiative to keep youth out of crime, drugs.

Kianjau Assistant Chief John Karanja shares a cake with some of the youth assimilated into Susan Gitau Counseling Foundation life skills training programme. Looking on is Susan Gitau (extreme left).

A local chief and a counsellor have embarked on a programme aimed at preventing slum youth from joining engaging in crime by helping them engage in social activities that might earn them some decent living.

Kianjau Assistant Chief John Karanja and Counseling Psychologist Susan Gitau have joined hands in an initiative aimed at empowering the youth from Kiandutu slums through training and counseling in a bid to prevent them from crime and drug use.

While speaking on Friday at the Kiandutu Police Post where over 20 youth who either used to peddle or and abuse drugs were enrolled to Susan Gitau Counseling Foundation, Madam Susan said that their aim was to provide them with a life skills training programme so as to build resilience and reduce anti-social behaviour.

“It takes a heart of compassion to set free young desperate slum youth dwellers to change their ways before they get arrested and much better to provide a better alternative. These youth will undergo hair and beauty courses as well as courses in baking and pastry among others, at our institution free of charge,” she said.

She highlighted the importance of providing activities that develop mechanisms to mitigate youth vulnerabilities associated with crime and drug use and thanked the area assistant chief for his role in identifying potential beneficiaries who would otherwise have ended up wrecking their lives in crime.

“To prevent our youth from getting into trouble with the law, it’s important to understand the reasons why most them engage in crime in the first place. Poverty is one of the key factors that turns an innocent kid into a hardened criminal. We need to arrest that through empowerment programmes that will break the yoke of poverty amongst our people,” she noted.

Susan appealed to other well-wishers and persons of goodwill to support her efforts in getting more youths in Thika to live a drug-free, crime-free life.

For the last few years, youth from the slum and vulnerable backgrounds have been undergoing free training courses at Africana College of Professionals in Thika courtesy of the Susan Gitau Counseling Foundation.

Over 40% of criminal gangs in the country are children under the age of 18 with almost a quarter being young girls from poor backgrounds.

These gangs are highly prevalent throughout the country, especially in slum setups with some getting recruited into criminal gang while being as young as 9 years old. These kids get motivated to join gangs for protection, feeling a sense of belonging, giving in to peer pressure, or to make money.

Children most at risk of gang involvement often grow up in an area with heavy gang activity, have a family member in a gang, suffer from low self-esteem, or have too much unstructured or unsupervised free time.

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