Armed with a chisel and a piece of wood, their joinery skills are put to test. The eye on the ruler, and the prize, their determination is unmatched.
Most of the youths we met at Joel Engineering Workshop at Ndogino trading centre, Nyandarua North Sub County in Nyandarua are school dropouts; their work here is to ensure their peers at school get the comfort they deserve.
Metals are bent using improvised benders, welded together using welding machines locally assembled, before they are nailed and screwed together to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Education.
“The government under the Economic Stimulus Programme gave me a tender to supply four schools with desks. Ngawa and Gaceri primary schools, Ngai Ndeithia and Leshau Boys High schools will receive lockers, chairs and desks from us. I have employed 15 youths who are actively involved in the day to day making of the desks that are now near completion,”
“Our tools of trade are improvised with a few that we bought. The tools are as good as the government procured Lather machines and they help us create desired shapes to the required standards,” starts off the proprietor of Joel Engineering Workshop Joel Mwangi.
Armed with personal savings, borrowed moneys as well as a Sacco loan that he secured from the local Viktas Sacco, Mwangi agreed to a contract to supply the schools with desks, all branded and to standards.
“Local artisans have the know-how required to supply our institutions with standard desks and infrastructure for a better economy. Our government has led by example by buying Kenyan, building Kenyans,” adds Mwangi.
Philip Kahuhia, a youth who got free training at the workshop is grateful that the government rolled the programme that was a wakeup call for them to learn new skills towards self-sustenance.
“I have welding skills that came in handy in making the primary schools desks. The job has been demanding, with no time for us to engage in alcoholism and drug abuse that had led many youths into criminal activities,” noted Kahuhia.
“Joel called me from bhang use, trained me in welding, joinery and carpentry work. I am glad that I am part of this process to give my peers desks, while making a decent living from this,” says Job Muiru, 18, who dropped out of school.
Schools in Nyandarua North Sub County have started receiving desks to the comfort of the students, who relied on worn out, cracked and patched wooden desks.
“We have procured 1,085 desks and 850 chairs and lockers to 15 primary and 17 secondary schools respectively. A few unscrupulous traders hiked the price of timber hampering the kicking off of the programme but the artisans pooled resources and purchased the materials in bulk, saving on huge costs,” said Deputy County Commissioner Walter Ngaira, who led stakeholders in a tour of schools in the area.
A spot check at Mukoe and Michinda Primary school revealed that the desks, made to the specifications of the Ministry of Education, have all been delivered with artisans in the area almost done with the tenders.
“The congestion we were getting when they shared benches is a gone case. Parents here were not able to raise funds for infrastructural development and desks and this is a relief to this institution,” Dr. Mungambi Christopher, while calling on area MP Jeremiah Kioni and Women Rep. Faith Gitau to step in and develop more structures.
“We are expecting better results given the comfort and support we have received from the government,” remarked Mary Wanjiru Muna, a form four student at Mukoe Secondary school.
Michinda Primary school pupils’ head Mercy Muthoni said the desks were a relief from the previous shared ones and thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for the initiative.
By Anne Sabuni