My name is Njoki Gathigi, the founding director of Osim mentors.Osim is derived from the Maasai language, one of the 44 ethnic communities in Kenya. It means “something good. We picked this name because we have very good intentions towards our young people, towards our communities and our beloved motherland, Kenya at large.
Why come up with a mentorship program?
- Having worked in the Public Service for over 30 years, where I interacted closely with young people as a teacher and as a Youth Development worker, I realized that my greatest passion is in encouraging young people; giving them hope; Infact my source of motivation is well captured by the peace prayer of the famous Francis of Assisi , which says “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace ; where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair,hope:where there is darkness,light;where there is sadness, joy:
- While working in the State Department of Youth affairs for the last 15 years, (2007 to 2022) Youth Development Officer, I had a wonderful opportunity of interacting closely with the youth at the grassroots level. During this period I observed that young people need an empathetic and non- judgmental person to listen to them, encourage and offer advice. In the course of my work I positively influenced a number of youth some of whom have succeeded in taking up leadership position in the government. I remember at least 3 of them become Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) upon the establishment of the County Governments in Kenya in 2010.; Recently in January, 2023, I received a call from the current MCA for Kikuyu Ward,a young man whom I worked with as a District development officer while in Kikuyu constituency, thanking me for having mentored him; he had just been sworn in as the MCA for Kikuyu ward. This and many more cases of youth expressing their gratitude made me aware that mentorship is of utmost significance in empowering our youth. I now believe that positive of words of encouragement means more to a young person than money.
- My working experience exposed me to the several challenges facing our youth which include low self-esteem, lack of confidence, lack of assertiveness; which ultimately make them vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse, negative peer pressure, early pregnancies, poor performance in school, increased school drop –out rates among many others. There is need to create opportunities where the older, experienced members of our communities can help boost the self-esteem of our youth by making them aware of the challenges of youth hood and how to manage and cope with them.
- My heart bleeds whenever I see a young person drop out of school due to one reason or another such as lack of school fees, early pregnancy and alcohol and drug addictions. I am much more disturbed when a young girl gets pregnant and end up dropping out of school. My desire is to encourage children and youth so that they can pursue education to their level best and become productive members in their communities. Breaking the cycle of poverty is our ultimate aim.
- During my working experience as government officer in the State Department of Youth affairs I witnessed the government commitment and great efforts in youth empowerment and development. I actively participated in these great endevours for the last 15 years of my career. Our government has the most detailed and ambitious youth Development Policy (revised in 2019) where we focused on critical areas where our youth needed empowerment and development. Key among these include; effective participation of our youth in community and national development, employment creation, Youth health and security, Innovation and enterprise development ,responsible and productive use of the internet and social media.As much as the government has made great strides towards empowering our youth, much more remains to be done. As a seasoned senior citizen with wide and varied experience in the public service I have a duty to give back to my community by sharing my knowledge to make the world a better place than I found it.