Richard Kirui talking with Margaret Stanley about the Lifeskills Programme
Richard Kirui, who is a Friends of Kipkelion staff member, spoke to Harambee volunteer Margaret Stanley about his experiences with Brighter Communities Worldwide's Lifeskills Programme
Richard Kirui is 40 years old and married to Betty, a primary school teacher. Richard and Betty have three children; sons Elias (age 10) and Alpayo (age 5) and a daughter Lavenda (4 months). Richard grew up in Ndubusat, the seventh child in a family of nine. His parents brewed illicit alcohol but he chose to follow the example of his older brother and became a Christian and did not get involved in this. After time, his whole family became Christian and his parents ceased brewing illegal alcohol.
After leaving school Richard was very involved in the community and attended forestry college for two years.
In 2003 he heard that there were ‘white men’ in Kebeneti, here he attended a Brighter Communities Worldwide meeting run by Maria and Martin. They opened a medical clinic in the area and when the lease lapsed, Richard's brother gave them an acre of land and so Brighter Communities Worldwide came to Ndubusat. This acre later became the site of the Ndubusat Medical Clinic and Maternity Hospital.
In 2005 Richard attended a Lifeskills Course facilitated by Brighter Communities Worldwide. Following this he and a group of 17 others formed the Mar Mar (named after Maria and Martin) Group. The group focused on promoting HIV awareness and environmental conservation in the form of a tree nursery. The group became linked to both Public Health and Brighter Communities Worldwide. Richard approached Maria and told her about the group, their plans/progress. Brighter Communities Worldwide gave funding for the peer-led Lifeskills Programme to be rolled out in different communities.
Up until 2009 Richard worked voluntarily teaching Lifeskills Courses – in 2009 Brighter Communities Worldwide hired him.
Richard feels that Brighter Communities Worldwide has changed his life as people turn to him for advice and he helps people with counselling. He feels that working for FOLK and the hardwork of volunteering while still being a full time farmer has paid off. Lifeskills taught him the three C’s – Challenge, Choice and Consequence and everything he does is guided by this. Personally, the Lifeskills Programme has taught him about communications skills, relationships and the importance of monogamy and making relationships work.
Richard believes that through the Lifeskills Peer-Education Programme he has saved countless girls from FGM. There is no FGM in Ndubusat and when FOL identifies ‘hot spots’ they organise the Lifeskills Programme to combat this. He also feels that general health in the villages where the Lifeskills Programme is run has a positive impact. Through contacts he and Brighter Communities Worldwide have made, they are able to put the Lifeskills Peer-Education Programme into practice in new communities.
Richard said that Brighter Communities Worldwide has been able to reach the interior rural areas that the government has not been able to reach. Richard estimates that 2,000 people have attended Lifeskills Courses through Brighter Communities Worldwide and that 100 people have been trained as facilitators. By doing this the Lifeskills Programme is reaching countless people and impacting on their lives. FOL has reduced poverty, improved maternal health and introduced the Healthy Village Programme. Richard also feels the Lifeskills Programme has helped to quash many of the myths surrounding HIV/AIDS, public health products and water gravity schemes.
Richard feels Brighter Communities Worldwide has provided funding and training and has in Richard's words 'been a real Harambee and has encouraged the local community'.
Quote from Richard: “If the mzungu (white person) cares enough to do it, why not me?”
When asked what Brighter Communities Worldwide is, Richard answered: “It is even beyond my understanding. They have made friendship and I don’t have the words to express it. Maybe it is God.”