Family Strengthening Programme Coordinator Eldoret SOS Children’s Villages Kenya
Changing the unchangeable – My life as a child's advocate
Our programme began in September 2008 some months after general elections. It was a time in our history as a country that we cannot forget, a period when the country experienced post-election violence. Among the areas affected was one of the target areas as a SOS CV programme.
We all know what violence involves; there was loss of life and destruction of property. It was at this period of time that the Family Strengthening Programme was initiated. Amongst the many issues we encountered were difficulties in penetrating to the communities, tribalism. One issue stood out in this community. Whereas certain issues could be shared in public, others remained in the private domain. One such case is sexual abuse of children or rather defilement.
I recall well going to this village which was a slum, of course with a village elder, and my colleagues to familiarise ourselves with the area and see the situation of children. What I saw was unbelievable to my eyes. I saw a village that was deep into alcoholism. People drinking local brew and every person I met was under influence of alcohol. Children were playing around these people and some young girls also were being used to serve the “guests” with the local brew commonly referred to as “changaa”. A community member whispered that sexual abuse is common in that village and normally nothing is done to the perpetrators.
We, the Family Strengthening Programme Team, decided to train the community leaders on how to deal with sexual abuse and its reporting strategy. Already one hour after the end of the training, a community leader called me and what did I hear? A child has been defiled and we have rushed her to hospital. I remember telling them that we only need to get one case that serves as an example to the rest.
We now decided to take up the issue. I was not liked by some community members especially whose sons and husbands have been doing this. I was in a delicate balance, either to have the support of all the community members especially in these periods that the programme was new or I speak on behalf of the voiceless who were children. I decided to report the matter to the police station but this perpetrator had already gone into hiding.
One night I was called by the same community member. I was told that the man had been seen hiding in a certain house in the village. I had to call the police and that night they arrested him. He was charged in court for defilement under our sexual offences act. However a year after he was released. I decided to go to court to get an explanation of why he was a free man. I was given his file to read and I was told that information from the child and one witness was contradicting. To me it did not sound convincing. In order to prove that nothing was contradicting I had to approach one of our partners dealing with legal issues for the children. They took up the matter and the man was re-arrested. By these, I felt satisfied in my heart that I will be counted among the change agents in the community.
This changed the thoughts of the community from that day onwards; sexual abuse came to an end.
Kenneth Kimurgor Koross
joined SOS Children’s Villages Kenya in 2008 as Community Development Worker.
He got an opportunity of starting a Family Strengthening Programme.Through this experience he participated in conducting several studies for the Kenyan Member Association. Kenneth was promoted to become a FS Coordinator in mid-2012 and that is the position he still holds. In addition, he participated in starting up a medical centre. He also coordinates the activities there. This perfectly shows that Kenneth likes to work with new projects and to see them grow.
Before joining SOS CV, Kenneth worked with World Vision Kenya on an internship basis.
Kenneth is married to a loving wife and blessed with one daughter who is three years old. He is the last born from a family of 15 and from a polygamous family. Due to the nature of their work Kenneth lives 300 km away from his family who is in the capital city Nairobi while he lives in Eldoret.
In Eldoret Kenneth supplies some farm products to community members whom he also encourages to adopt new farming methods. Furthermore, he encourages the local community to support orphans and vulnerable children through foster care, especially those who are in a position to do so within the society.