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HEROES OF THIKA - Onyii, The volunteer Traffic Guide With a Passion For Kids

Interview done on   

Who is Onyii?

I am Evans Aila, a resident of Thika since birth and grew up in Kiandutu Slum. I am married and a father of five.
Mimi ni husler wa kawaa who earn my daily bread through hawking second hand merchandise.

Briefly Describe a Day in Onyii's Life.

Every morning I wake up at 4:40am to assist my kids get ready for school since my wife is nursing my two last-born twins. I prepare their breakfast and see my three elder kids off to school at around 6:00am.

I immediately board a matatu from Kiganjo Estate to MetroFil Petrol Station along Thika-Garissa Highway where I collect my tools of trade to kick off my day. 

From about 6:20am to around 8:00am, I assist school kids cross the road safely. I also offer the same to persons living with disability as well as alcoholics from the slum.

After this, I go for my morning workout where I jog for about one hour to keep fit. I then head straight home, take a cold shower before leaving to eke a living. I close shop at around 8 in the evening to assist my kids with their homework and other chores.
After they retire to bed, I take my books and start my private studies until around 12 midnight.

What do you mean that by that? Are you in school?

I am a Standard Seven dropout and I intend to pursue on with my studies. God willing, I plan to enroll for KCPE this year if I am in a position to raise the required amount.

What is all this road safety thing you do?

In the year 2013, a Programme by the name Action For Road Safety was introduced to schools around Thika to create road safety awareness among school kids. The organisers came briefly and distributed bags to these kids and later vanished into thin air. Their one-off project did help much as children kept on getting killed along these roads just as before.

This hurt me into thinking of a way to help the situation. I along some few friends approached several leaders seeking for assistance to come up with a lasting solution to the deaths that were getting out of hand. None of these leaders ever lent us an ear. My friends gave up on the idea but it kept nagging me throughout 2013-14.

This year, I decided to take the first step…. Doing it whether anyone helps me or not. So, I went and made this sign post and that is how RS 10 Project kicked off.

Who Funds this Project?

No one assists me in any way but I am not complaining.  This is my service to God and I believe that He is happy of my efforts.

What Challenges do you encounter in this Project?

First we have some of these drivers who are so arrogant and inconsiderate. They will ignore you and speed off, sometimes almost running over me or these kids in the process. The other major handicap is that of manpower. My area of operation is quite limited since it is very difficult to get people willing to wake up this early to do such volunteer work. This road stretches long and I cannot be everywhere I would have wanted to be in order to save that kid from being knocked by a car while crossing the road to school. We have so many blackspots on this road such as The Bidco junction, Metro, Gatitu and Cravers where so many kids and grown-ups get knocked down by vehicles every day.

We cannot forget that I am a family man who has needs too to cater for. I got bills to pay. Whenever I come here every morning, I spend about Sh.100 in fare to-and-fro Kiganjo Estate. It also takes part of the time that I am supposed to spending in trying to earn a living.

There is also those people who talk down on my efforts saying that I am wasting time or that I lack something more important to do.

Anyway, none of this ever puts me down. This is a sacrifice I have to make.

With all those challenges, what then drives you or rather what inspires you to do what you do?

My inspiration comes from Colossians 3:23 which says; “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. My love and passion for kids can drive me to any length. I do what I do here regardless of who takes note of my efforts. Since my childhood I have witnessed so many school-going children die on this road. It pains me to see young innocent lives getting lost and yet no one takes the pain to seek solutions to these loses, may be because they come from poor background, Kiandutu.

Who can you at least thank for going this far?

Thika Police Traffic Base Commander Mr. William Uhuru has been of great assistance.  First, he has allowed me to be here which a great privilege is. He has also provided me with this reflector jacket and introduced me to other police officers including the OCPD Mr. Erustus Muthamia. These police officers have been of great help especially in following up those drivers who make my work difficult by endangering the children’s lives.

How do you see this project in future?

My dream in the next five years is to see this Road Safety Project roll out in the entire nation. I want to see our roads free of pedestrian deaths.

I know these blackspots may in future have footbridges erected. That will not mean the end of my mission with the ghetto kids. There is so much we can do with these children. As I work with them here, they tell me so much and I learn a lot from them. They need to be assisted in so many ways.

What would you tell other youth about this mission?

Everything is not about money.  I believe in the saying that goes; Service for humanity is service to God. Serve His people and He will surely Bless the work of your hands. Our God is Faithful.

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