A rising population

Pastor Joseph Karuo Njuguna the Chief Pastor at Remnant Church Gatukuyu has lauded the County Government of Kiambu praising it for the continued increase in his church’s congregation. This is after the launch of the Kaa Sober programme last year caused massive transformation of residents in Gatundu North, with most of those transformed joining his church. He says that the church has been experiencing a tremendous increase in the membership and over ten marriages have happened in the last one year since the inception of the programme by Governor Waititu Babayao.

The pastor who was appointed as a mentor to Kaa Sober members by the Governor also says that the number of deaths in the area has significantly reduced. “Since I started ministering in this church there has been over 200 deaths that I know, with over 90 percent caused by these illicit brews,” he says. Illicit brews have struck Gatundu North like a plague since 1980. Residents with a similar opinion with Pastor Karuo say that alcohol in the constituency is like a cash crop. “Chang’aa has for the longest been the primary source of income to all the homesteads in this locality,” the pastor says.

In Makwa, every homestead either has an addict or has lost a relative to alcoholism. The deaths come from either health issues related to alcoholism or suicides. Records from the police indicate there are tens of suicides in the locality presumably emanating from depression and hopelessness by the addicts. There are also a number of young men and women who have drowned in the Chania and Kariminu rivers as they struggle to distill the illicit brews.

“Illicit alcohol in this village has spoilt people’s health and education to an extent that in every homestead that sells these brews, there is a school drop-out,” Pastor Karuo says, “the chang’aa is like a curse, men cannot even reproduce and this has created a generation gap because we are now lacking a certain age group from the repercussions of the alcoholism rising from the early 1908s.” The pastor says that were it not for Kaa Sober, their population would continue diminishing.

The Kaa Sober programme was started in Gatundu North after Governor Waititu Babayao attended the funeral of a young villager who had died of alcoholism. He noted with deep concern the plight of the villagers from the curse of the illicit brews and pledged to take action. He had a meeting with the religious leaders led by Pastor Karuo where he proposed the idea of the Kaa Sober. The religious leaders were given the responsibility of mobilizing all the drunkards who were willing to reform with the Governor promising to give them meaningful occupations. In Gatundu North constituency alone, the Governor got over 500 people.

The programme was then rolled out in the entire county. The drunkards were mentored through rehabilitative counselling. They were then given casual jobs of environmental cleaning and clearing blocked culverts. They were also enrolled in a feeding programme. The over 6,000 people were also given a daily wage of KShs 300 and encouraged to start a savings scheme. “The employment given by Governor Waititu through Kaa Sober has really improved the economy of this area,” Pastor Karuo says, “we have seen small enterprises already coming and the existing ones continue to grow because of increased customers who as well have some bargaining power.”

The beneficiaries were then engaged in polytechnics where they took skills enhancement courses like plumbing, electrical installations, tailoring and catering among others. The training will come to an end this week culminating into a graduation ceremony to be held on Tuesday 26th February, 2019 at Ndumberi Grounds. To make the programme sustainable, the Governor is set to launch the Jijenge Fund where the grandaunts will be given capital to help them start and run their enterprises.