The Calling

At a special time in the history of the world, some very special boys and girls, with help from some very special adults, heard an inner voice calling to them. That inner voice asked: Are you ready to explore new things? Are you ready to embark upon a journey — a quest to identify, face and overcome challenges — both for yourself and other boys and girls?

Yes! these boys and girls said. Yes! We have heard the call and answered yes and from now on we will be the Chosen Ones.

You can follow their progress here.

As Chosen Ones from Kenya, we have identified our calling for our Quest, which is...

Tumaini Group Picture

“bringing dignified work to Children and Youth in our community”.


Tumaini Youth Group
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As Chosen Ones, this is who we are...

Tumaini Group Picture

“...we are a group of 30 youth who came together 3 years ago determined to make a difference for ourselves and our community.”

Tumaini Youth Group
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This Quest is important to children in our community because in our community...

Youth speaking at the national conference

As Chosen ones and many other working children in the country and from the different regions we shared (and others still share) the following challenges:

  1. Discrimination – We experience discrimination from the employer due to our age and lack of experience by majority of us. The government on the other hand does not have a position for us as working children. We are in work because we lack other opportunities like education.
  2. Poor wages – Due to our age and lack of skills in negotiation we are paid less, overworked and sometimes abused. Sometimes we are not paid at all and we lack support systems to channel our complains and if we do corruption finds it way and we are victimized the second time.
  3. Poverty - high rates of poverty have pushed children to child labor
  4. Domestic violence - parents engagement in alcohol leading to domestic violence leading to separation of families
  5. Peer pressure leading to many young people engaging into drugs and substance abuse
  6. Lack of support from the government – weak systems in fighting child labor
  7. Injuries from the harsh work e.g. quarries, water vending, farms
  8. End of the Children Lead the Way project is challenge to the Working Children in secondary school
  9. Education is affected by cultural practices e.g. FGM, child marriages, early boys circumcision and teenage pregnancies. The parents encourage FGM in some regions due to ignorance.
  10. Water shortage/scarcity
  11. Lack of business startup capital for those who have completed the apprenticeship programme

National Conference, Kenya
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Tumaini Youth Group

As CHOSEN ONES from Igembe North Sub – County of the Meru County in Kenya we have identified our calling for our Quest, which is “bringing dignified work to Children and Youth in our community”.

As Chosen ones this is who we are a group of 30 youth (25 girls and 5 boys). We came together 3 years ago and are determined to make a difference for ourselves and our community and future generations. Our faces are bright, smiles on our face signifying hope; our fist crossed to symbolize our strength and unity in purpose, and our hands raised up for our determination and stamina to work and achieve. The Box represents our savings and saving habit and the books our shared records.

Tumaini Youth Group, Kenya

Tumaini Youth Group; the Chosen Ones after undergoing the Calling Process and undertaking their weekly contribution – Table banking – a journey that leads to money freedom and dignified work.

Tumaini Youth Group, Brainstorming

The Members brainstorming on our calling and discussing on the community profile.

This Quest is important to children in our community because it’s time for us to all get together to share the journey we’re on with others from across the world.

Why are we on this journey?

We are on this journey because once upon a time there was a community called Antuambui, located in Igembe North, the members of this community worked hard to plant subsistence crops like maize, beans and bananas for food and Miraa (a mild stimulant plant that is chewed) for cash.

This is our story:

In the so grimy region the good, the me, the we can come out.

Our community is located on the slopes of Mount Kenya in Meru County, the landscape of our area is hilly and the soil is volcanic very fertile for all agricultural work, with average rainfall throughout the year. The area is densely populated with each family occupying an average of half an acre of land. Before Children Lead the Way (CLW) project came into being, children in our community were experiencing and going through very traumatic situations and this was brought about by what our parents and elder holds to be the only source of income – Miraa. Could this be a cursed plant? We always ask.

In our community Miraa is the only cash crop and the community highly depends on it (Miraa) for survival. Men, Women and children all work in the Miraa farms in order to meet our daily needs like food, shelter and medical services. While the men are the main actors in the Miraa sector, women and children are charged with the responsibility of picking, sorting, packing and transporting Miraa for the men to sell. Children especially fall victims to exploitation by the Miraa tycoons who violate children’s right. The most common violations include denial to equal pay with the adult, no time to play, no time to go to school, not time to associate with other children, forced child labour, working for long hours, no time to rest even when it is raining and this expose us to illnesses. We also experience gender based violence for example sexual abuse during our working hours; some employers will solicit for sex to pay you for the work you have already done.

The other challenges that we have been facing was drunkenness of our parents, wife beating, poverty occasioned by parents leasing out the family Miraa plantations to tycoon at throw away price and then use the meager and the only income for the family on alcohol.

Early circumcision for boys was and is another major problem; these boys are sent away from home at an early age (after circumcision) to go fend for themselves leading to school dropout and involvement of the boys in criminal acts. Poor leadership and corruption at the local level compounded the problems. Water shortage, for there is no single river or water source in the whole of Igembe North, women and children especially girls’ walk long distances to fetch water.

Due to the above challenges and violation of children rights the following results are experienced and are rampant: teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortion, rape, and early marriage, school drop out for both girls and boys. Children hard no voice to speak out on what they were going through neither had we any forum to share our concerns.

As children we wanted our community to be free from these oppressions, we sat down as children with common problems and decided to help ourselves. We set ourselves on a quest to end exploitation at work place by bringing decent and dignified work to our community. A long the way we met Save the Children International and Laare Catholic Waumini SACCO; this stimulated our desire to accomplish our calling. Together through Children Lead the Way Project we embarked on formation of formal groups where we were supported to acquire education on Children rights, mentorship/apprenticeship, life skills, business and financial education and mobilization of resources for self sustenance.

Through our participation in the Children Lead the Way project we have been able to acquire charms to help us achieve our dream. Among the charms we have acquired are:

  • Business/self employment skills
  • Financial management skills
  • Strength to endure and to say no
  • Confidence
  • Opportunity to interact with other children
  • Exposure and interaction with the out and bigger world.

Our vision for the future is:

  1. To see educated girls and boys
  2. Attainment of children’s rights
  3. A community with well connected water systems
  4. Youth groups with accumulated assets e.g. commercial plots, buildings, and education institutions
  5. Well established businesses that leads to dignified work
  6. Economically empowered young women and men

Below are some of the potentials that children have realized through the CLW program.

Tumaini Youth Group, Brainstorming

1. I want to be the president of Kenya – Leadership skills at play 2. I will one day own a car- vision and dreams can be true. 3. I will be a Real Estate Investor. 4. Pulling Cart Forever - Not Me!!


The Students Commission