Gabriel Odhiambo’s Story
Written by Gabriel Odhiambo and Tom Owili   
Tuesday, 11 November 2014 09:55

I am 29 years old and I live in Kariobangi south in Embakasi sub-county. I am the first born in a family of 6 (4males and 2 females). My journey as a volunteer in the community begun in 2006 when I attended a men as partners training which was provided by HOPE worldwide Kenya and addressed gender inequalities.

My drive is from the challenges I faced as a child and I wanted to make my community a better place to live. My community believed that women and children are there to be seen and not to be heard. This made me struggle with my self-esteem .When I was growing up I wanted to be a lawyer but this was not to be because of financial struggles and my parents could not afford to pay for my school. After sitting for my final high school exams, I developed an interest of helping children within my community (Huruma). There were many high school drop outs by then and they were engaging in crimes like robbing people in the neighborhood, drugs among other vices.

Gabriel during the a World AIDS Day Exhibition

Initially, I approached 3 young men and after many hours of engaging with them and encouraging them to focus on their education in order to have a better life, 2 of them accepted to go back to school. From this experience I learnt that I could do more, and that’s how I got involved in community volunteering. After volunteering for 6 months, I met a HWWK Staff in a community event where we were mobilizing community members for a clean-up event. We partnered with HWWK to provide HIV related services and also support the vulnerable children within my community.

The 7 years of volunteering in my community provided lessons that have improved the quality of service delivery in the community. Involving the community in the designing and implementation of programs is the center of program success because the programs are initiated and owned by the community and this ensures sustainability. Through my service to the community I have learnt that everyone is unique and can contribute in their smallest way to create the best community they want and this can only be achieved through collective responsibility to realize the vision of an empowered community.

Gabriel facilitating kids clubs activity

I would like to thank HWWK for giving me the opportunity to improve my knowledge and skills through various trainings which have been useful in carrying out my daily activities; Psychosocial support, entrepreneurship skills, support group management, kids club management, early childhood development, working with children and youths among other areas, make me an all rounded community volunteer.

With the success achieved in working as a community volunteer, the main challenge has been lack of basic counselling skills to help in families that are traumatized, and helping the caregivers achieve financial independence.

In conclusion I have learned that each and every community has their solutions to every challenge they face, they only need direction and they will do it correctly. Collective responsibility and good will from the community and the government, NGOs and civil society will contribute to our vision of an Empowered Healthy   Community.