‘In the end it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.’ Abraham Lincoln
These words can be depicted from Dickson okong’o the executive director of stretchers youth organization.Dick as he is popularly known, brings a whole new perception of what life has to offer. Born in siaya county and raised in Mombasa county. His zeal for the youth has made him create employment opportunities for youths in his community.
We settle for the interview at his humble office in Magongo, situated in a storey building which also harbors a primary school. The office is located at the first floor. The office serves all activities of the organization, but he hopes to a better office soon.Dick narrates how a number of youths suffer low self-esteem after high school due to lower grades after their national exams, this prompted him to start stretchers youth organization, a place where young people can look beyond their academic certificates and see possibilities in their God given abilities.
Dickson Okong’o. PHOTO | COURTESY
He reminisced how he started the organization back in November 2010, the first meeting he called nobody showed up, and it really caught his nerves, but being a go getter he is four months later he called for another meeting and it was unsuccessful. The turn of events demoralized him so he took a hiatus for almost ten months, then he arranged for another meeting.
Out of sympathy a few friends this time showed up, and the meeting begun with five people, this was a dream come true for him and the same day they elected the leadership of the organization.
Dick has possessed leadership skills since his early years in school, being a prefect and head scout, therefore starting the organization was a new challenge which he was excited about.
It wasn’t a bed of roses at the beginning, there were no resources. The government was giving out funds but they couldn’t qualify. He wanted to break the notion that Mombasa youths are lazy.
For the past four years the organization has been running activities based on other people programmes.but now it wants to run its programs independently.
His goal is to have a society which humanity is valued and this can be achieved if there is positively involvement of the youth in the community.
Currently they have ongoing programs one of them is Tambua talanta wakilisha mtaa which is about tapping the available talent in the community. They give artistes a platform to showcase talents at the same time preach peace. The shows are conducted weekly around changamwe,and other stakeholders are invited and this helps them to network widely.
They also hold a medical camp once after every two months, where members of the community are offered free medical services.
If you are a youth interested in matters of development, you’re free to join stretchers and be part of the change you desire in your society.