Since the outbreak of the Corona virus pandemic that has seen social gatherings banned by the Ministry of Health to curb the spread of the pandemic, youth have had to find an alternative way of engagement.
The pandemic has led to the disruption of the entire school programme from kindergarten to tertiary institutions leaving millions of students idle at home.
To fill this void, a church in Narok town is seeking to use art and craft to keep youth busy during this time and also make some little money.
Jesus Gospel Power Ministries, a local church under the leadership of Bishop Augustine Rugut have started a weekly program of art and craft whose goal is to engage the youth during this time of Corona virus pandemic.
The weekly program sees tens of talented youths drawn from primary school level all the way to universities come to church to engage in various creative activities in craftsmanship.
The youth engage in activities such as beadwork, tailoring, crocheting, hairdressing, making tables out of used car tires, drawing, making vases out of compact disks and old bottles, podcasting and drama.
In beadwork, through their craftsmanship they come up with beautiful bead necklaces, bangles and earrings. Materials for this project are easily acquired locally from local shops in Narok town.
In tailoring department, the church has acquired for the youths a sewing machine which the youth use to come up with neat pieces of cloths that they use for church decorations and drama props. The same department will soon be making face masks for the church.
There is hairdressing section where the girls make members` and each other’s hair for a small fee instead of spending money at the salons, thus helping to cut down the cost of the salon visits.
In the crocheting department, an old trade is being learned. The youths make door mats, sweaters and other pieces of cloths by knitting and crocheting.
In table making the youths have gotten more creative and instead of using wood, they use old used motor-vehicle vehicle tires where they use manila ropes and a piece of cloth around the tire to make it more appealing.
Those who make vases apply glue all over a bottle and wrap it with sisal ropes and finally decorate it with shattered pieces of compact disks and place flowers inside the bottle for home interior decorations
In the drama department the youths have opened a podcast channel where they discuss issues affecting the youths. They also come up with short films which they record for home viewing and entertainment by the youth of the church.
A teacher at the church, Humphrey Kirubi, says that the program is meant to empower the youths and develop their skills during these trying times.
He says the aim of the programme is the youth in acquiring skills that will make them self-reliant and focus on job creation rather than waiting to be employed and using the few resources that they are able to acquire locally.
Samuel Kimani, also a teacher at the church, says that after the closure of schools, there has been an upsurge in immoral behaviour among the youth in the community and parents have been able to appreciate the role of schools in keeping their children busy.
He advises parents in Narok who are notorious for marrying of their children quite early not to do so as children have much to give in the community if well nurtured both physically, spiritually and emotionally.
A youth at Gospel Power, Mickey Mironi says that the program has helped him acquire some skills which he would not have otherwise learnt in school and make some little money which he is saving to help him when schools open.
Out of the little money the group is making, 10 percent goes to the church, 30 percent to their youth account and a larger portion; about 60 percent is shared among the youths.
Maryann Akoth Kodada who is a youth leader at the ministry says that their vision as leaders is to expand their craftsmanship throughout their churches in the county and the country.
She says their aim as leaders is to make youth from the Gospel Power church an examples of what the youths can do especially at this time instead of engaging in immoral acts and other lawless behaviour.
On her part, Sidna Baraka says that their parents initially volunteered to teach them the craftsmanship such as hairdressing at the beginning of the program. Each youth is allowed to choose their area of interest which he/she concentrates on.
The church says its committed to assist the youths not only of the church, but those of other churches too, especially at this time as that they can acquire life skills and horn their talents.
The church intends to grow this programme into a big industry that will employ hundreds of youths and make items for sale to the tourists.
By Mabel Keya –Shikuku