The changing perceptions of debt collectors - support of Harambee for Kenya

On the 12th August 2018 J&P Credit Solutions Collections Agent, Gary Owens along with 32 explorer scouts left the United Kingdom to undertake a two-week long expedition to Kenya. The purpose of the trip was to support and work with the charity ‘Harambee for Kenya’, a charity which helps Kenya’s street boys by taking them off the streets and housing them in one of their safe houses based in Kisii or Meru.

Street children have no identity and are regularly beaten or dragged into gangs where they are forced to scavenge and steal in exchange for scraps of food and protection. Once in these safe houses the boys are provided with daily meals, new clothes, beds, enrolment into education and most importantly a family of other boys who have experienced similar situations.

After a long drive the scouts arrived at the charity’s house in Kisii, where they had a warm welcome from the boys living there. During their time at the safe house they were responsible for many projects to help develop the safehouse and improve the lives of the boys living there. Throughout the duration of their stay, the scouts would play games with the boys, tutor them, run activities workshops and talk with the boys.

One of the scouts’ biggest projects was the construction of a new entrance step into the safe house. This is because a new road that had been built alongside the house caused large ditches along the side of the road and directly in front of the entrance. This was quite the hindrance on the boys as they would go out to collect water multiple times a day and had to climb up the ditch into the charity’s compound carrying large containers containing 20 litres of water. The scouts met with local traders in the town to source and purchase the necessary materials using money that they had raised over the last couple of years. Now completed, the step provides easy level access from the road into the safe house, whilst allowing for flood water to run beneath.

Other projects that were undertaken during their stay included; repainting of the safe house, conducting art classes and some drainage works that now channel excess water into farmland to irrigate their crops. The installation of 2 new water barrels was also implemented during the stay, meaning less time walking to the river for water the boys!

Gary, along with charity representatives ran a night tour of the town by mini bus, for the scouts, where they had the chance to witness first-hand the hardship of the street children. Whilst out they handed out warm clothes to groups of street children during what was a wet few days. The charity also offered to take in some of the street children they meet on the night tours. By the end of the night the scouts and the charity had brought back four children that were living rough on the streets. The four children are still at the safehouse today and are now starting school, a luxury which would not have been achievable in their previous situation.

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