Pastor Mishack Chege envisions a country where there is a free drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in every county. These centers, he envisions, would serve as a refuge for young people struggling to beat addictions and support them through the journey of recovery.
Pastor Chege began this campaign after he found himself growing increasingly troubled by the well-documented alcoholism problem among young, impoverished people in Kenya. Mishack quickly recognized that the problem of alcoholism was spurring a range of further social problems in various communities; including increases in the levels of crime, and violence. Thus, “Youth for a Drug Free Nation” was born. “I started Youth for a Drug Free Nation as a community-based organization (CBO) in Utawalla,” Mishack tells us, “However, we found that the community there was generally non-responsive.”
Not deterred by this, Mishack decided to refocus the campaign on his home county, Murang’a, and is now based in the Kenyanjeru sub-location. When he came to Tatua, Mishack was determined to avoid the mistakes made in Utawalla. “I eventually found that many people in Utawalla did not view alcoholism as a problem for their community because there, alcoholism was less connected with poverty,” explained Mishack, “I realized that part of the problem was I had diagnosed the community before I listened to it.”
Now with his Kenyanjeru campaign, Mishack is trying a different approach. “The reception has been warm,” says Mishack, “Part of it is definitely because this community already knows me and my family. It makes it easier for them to listen to what I have to say, and I can more quickly figure out who my strongest allies are.”
As a member of the church, Mishack is no stranger to community service, and sees himself working on this and other issues across the country. “Once we’e successful in Murang’a, we can leave the project in the hands of the community and move to another community that is struggling with similar problems.” Mishack is excited to have been exposed to Tatua’s work because he believes that community organizing will allow him to build networks of solidarity. “What I’m most excited about is having company in this journey,” reveals Mishack, “People who also believe that the work is important.”
Certainly, we are proud to be part of Mishack’s community.