6 December 2017

Kenya: Youths Sparkle at Volunteers Award Gala

The government has feted individuals who stood out in the year as volunteers in charity, in their communities as the country joined the world in marking the International Volunteers' Day.

Joy Wagathi, 22, founder of a digital initiative that offers digital literacy skills for youth in the rural areas, emerged this year's winner at a colourful dinner gala presided over by Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie in Nairobi.

Ms Wagathi who was named Volunteer of the Year, is the co-founder of Digital Grassroots, a youth network which initially focused on young women, but has since diversified to also involve young men in digital training.

YOUNG PEOPLE

Besides imparting digital literacy skills at the grassroots level, Ms Wagathi's initiative engages the youth in addressing issues of internet insecurity such as cyber bullying.

The excited youth said the win was a motivation for her to reach out to more young people in various parts of the country's rural areas.

"We aim to target more young people four training to bridge the digital divide between youths in rural areas and those in Urban centres," she said, adding that the training will focus on safe internet use.

Geoffrey Kosgei from Nandi County, took home the volunteer of the year award in the youth category.

The 24-year old Kosgei, is the director of One Africa Child Foundation, an organisation that provides leadership skills to disadvantaged children from marginalised communities. The facility empowers the children to become agents of change in their communities.

Veteran Industrialist Manu Chandaria was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his consistent charitable initiatives in Kenya spanning more than 25 years.

The Institution of the Year Award went to Middle South Junior School from Kariobangi South, for its community mobilisation in advocating for a clean environment in their neighbourhood.

The school organises occasional cleaning days, where parents, teachers, pupils and local administrators participate in a cleaning drive in their ward.

VOLUNTEER POLICY

Makueni governor, Prof Kivutha Kibwana was named the country's ambassador for volunteerism.

His county was the first in Kenya to come up with a volunteer policy even before the cabinet approved the volunteer policy Bill in September.

Ms Kandie appealed to other counties to create such policies to promote volunteerism and to help in coordination of such initiatives at the grassroots level.

"We want to create a more caring society through community service. When our youths are engaged in volunteer work, we will be able to solve a lot of social problems in the country that arise from idleness among the youth," she said during the function held at the Sarova Stanley Hotel.

The government, she added, would assemble a database of all volunteers in the country, and the sectors in which their offer their services.

"In the near future, volunteer work will be a prerequisite for employment by the Public Service Commission and the Teachers' Service Commission," she added.

The government would also engage retired public servants to offer their expertise to the youth.

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