My name is John Muritu Mbuthia, a community volunteer from Sipili in Laikipia County. I volunteer with Saint Martin Catholic Social Apostolate in the Community Programme for Peace and Reconciliation. Saint Martin Catholic Social Apostolate is a religious grass-roots organization based in Nyahururu that addresses issues facing the society through community volunteers. This is achieved by promoting solidarity in the community and capacity building.
In 2013, I participated in a training on the Sexual Offences Act (2006) facilitated by the Programme. The training has positively influenced my life by imparting me with new knowledge amidst increased cases of defilement, bestiality, rape and sexual harassment. Prior to the training, I used to refer all cases on sexual offences to the area chief due to limited knowledge. I have also created awareness to the community through school and church forums jointly with other volunteers on the Sexual Offences Act (2006).
This training has also influenced behaviour change among the administration police in Sipili. The police have often been branded by the community as the most ruthless and corrupt system of the government. This is based on their tendency to assault, demand for bribes, threaten people with imprisonment or even falsify evidence to impede the dispensing of justice.
Following the training, the situation in Sipili has changed. I have tirelessly worked for the community with confidence and self-dedication. Many people have ceased to report their cases to the police without informing me since they know I will do follow-ups and their cases addressed fairly. The police in our area slowly started inviting me to their camp whenever a case was reported. I could sit with them, listen to the case and at last, they would always be there waiting for my opinion. The fulfilling part is when all the parties go home satisfied and I don’t ask for any pay. This made the police change their attitude towards the community. One of the officers asked me how I survive with my family with this kind of job. I replied giving those experiences of spending hours in voluntary work and how customers flock in my “fundi wa electronics” shop wanting my service now for pay. This is one way of the many blessings I receive.
The Police on realizing their shortcomings changed the way they handle their clients. The most cherishing feeling in my volunteerism is when a client came and reported back after referral to the police that he was given a chance to express himself and offered the necessary support for free. This has kept the fire burning, giving me the heart to continue with the song. I feel supported since the police have joined the dancing stage together with all the stakeholders in Sipili zone. It is difficult to make people join your way of doing things especially if they don’t get a first-hand benefit.