By: Robert Manyara

After completing his secondary school studies in 2003, Simon Muthiora would not envision further education since his parents lived within humble means of survival.


But Muthiora, who lives in Nakuru county, had a self-driven passion for painting.

This is something Muthiora had done since his childhood, and he is convinced that it could not go into waste while he was faced with challenges of a means to change his family’s poverty status.

“I did my best to buy myself a pencil, canvas, brush and paint. I painted in the best way I could despite lacking the special skills in the art. A number of people appreciated my paintings and bought them,” Muthiora, who is at his mid-twenties, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Over the years, Muthiora has sharpened his painting skills using his earnings to educate himself.
Unlike before,when all he did was portraits, now he knows how perfect it is to produce a wildlife painting, which he says has drawn him many local and international customers.

On most occasions, his current work is driven by orders he receives from customers in countries such as U.S., Germany and Italy. And a piece can sell for more than 2,000 U.S. dollars depending on the size and features involved.

Presently, Muthiora mentors youth, especially those who have completed their high school studies, to nurture their talents and become self-reliant.

“I believe each person is gifted in a unique way and talents are not supposed to go into waste in an environment where many families cannot afford food or better shelter,” said Muthiora.

“Youth need mentorship and motivation to translate their talents into money and it is possible. I am a testimony,” he asserted.

For Jackson Muchiri, drawing has been part and parcel of his growing up since he was 8 years old. Like Muthiora, with a background of limited financial capabilities, hopes of continuing with college education were lean for Muchiri.

“I knew looking for a job could be a hard tussle for me because I had friends who had completed college and were still at home hoping to secure a job some day,” explained Muchiri.

Muchiri, now in his early twenties, resorted to drawing personal portraits using a graphite pencil and charcoal. He sold them through facebook. At the beginning, it was not easy to make a sell as he says, but after six months, orders came calling.

“You cannot idle and wait for a miracle to happen. Life is hard in Kenya and it has reached a time in which every youth needs to take advantage of what he or she can do best,” said Muchiri.

At the moment, Muchiri fetches not less than 20 dollars for a portrait, which he allows his client to determine its final look.

“All a client needs to do is give me a photo and instruct me on how he or she wants the portrait to come out. And it is not something anybody can do. It takes talent and continues learning from others to produce a perfect product,” he said.

Muthiora and Muchiri are among the thousands of youths in Kenya struggling to explore their talents to break free from poverty and avoid the struggle of securing a job in the formal sector.

But both agree that lack of mentorship and information on marketing self-made products is a huge challenge facing youths even as they strive to employ themselves.

“I wish we had many people interested in mentoring youth and helping them find a market for their products,” noted Muthiora.

Tom Mboya, whose organisation, Gaplink International, mentors youth in Kenya, said there is an increasing need for empowering youth with a diversity of information on how to become resourceful individuals in the society.

“One of the major problems youth face is access to information necessary to starting a business and sustaining it. I must agree that they need support from those who have succeeded in business,” said Mboya.

It will take collaborative efforts from the government and non-state actors to solve the issue of unemployment in the country, he added. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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