Transformed to Transform Others
Patrick Buong’s Story
Written by Carol Meja, CFK Africa Communications Manager
Kibera, an informal settlement, is sprawling with mostly mud and tin houses. Some estimates indicate that the community is home to over 250,000 people who earn less than USD 2 per day on average. Apart from the poor infrastructure, electricity problems and overstretched sanitation facilities, crime is also common throughout the community. Youth growing up in Kibera face many challenges unique to their environment, including insecurity, access to alcohol and drugs, prostitution and early age of sexual debut, which brings about risks like teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Eighteen-year-old Patrick Buong was lucky to complete his high school education amid the challenges in his community of Kibera. When he started working in the metal industry near his home, earning less than USD 1 a day, his mother and siblings were very proud of him. He thought that the best he could be given his circumstances was a metal dealer. He never thought his life would be any different from his peers, who were trapped in a cycle of poverty driven by the challenges of growing up in an informal settlement, such as limited access to education and job training skills.
The start of a new life
It wasn’t until Patrick’s mother attended a community outreach forum organized by CFK Africa that his life began to change. His mother told him about CFK Africa information and communications technology (ICT) training that was being offered at the organization’s Young Health and Wellness Centre. She said she would pay the subsidized fees.
CFK Africa’s ICT department at the Young Health and Wellness Centre in Kibera offers ICT courses at subsidized prices as part of giving all youth, especially from vulnerable backgrounds, an opportunity to find employment and become digitally savvy.
“I started the three-month Microsoft packages course at CFK Africa’s Young Health and Wellness Centre under instructor Alfred. Despite my mother struggling to make ends meet, she paid for the examinations, which was all that was required. I could not fail her; I passed my exams with a distinction,” Patrick said.
After the course, Patrick’s instructor recommended him for a six-month ICT scholarship at Moringa School. Moringa School has partnered with CFK Africa to offer scholarships to bright but vulnerable students from informal settlements.
“It was easy for Patrick to qualify because he had performed well in his ICT packages and showed great commitment. I was confident he wouldn’t get dropped, as the course is quite rigorous,” said Alfred, the ICT trainer at CFK Africa’s Young Health and Wellness Centre.
From student to role model
As expected, Patrick passed his course in Fullstack Web Development and used the certificate to apply for a short-term data entry job with the World Food Programme and later Give Directly in 2020. He now works as the ICT and Social Media Manager at Fabulous Souls, a non-profit organization that empowers vulnerable young people in Kibera. At the age of 22, he is so empowered that he recently moved into his own house in Ayany estate in Kibera and is helping his mother with the bills.
“I attribute my success to the training I received at CFK Africa. If my mother did not go to the community outreach activity they organized, I would still be a downcast and distraught metal worker. Now, I am empowering other youth, and I feel so blessed,” he remarked with a smile.
Aside from employment, Patrick has knowledge that can help him supplement his income: web development. Additionally, his students look up to him as a role model.
“I am very proud of my former student Patrick. He is an inspiration to all the young people he teaches. Stories like his are what give teachers like us the motivation to impart knowledge with passion,” remarked Alfred.