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Samuel lost his parents when he was nine years old. His aunt, who lived in Korogocho slums, took him in. Life, for him, was not easy as his aunt would do menial jobs in order to fend for both her children and Samuel.
“Sometimes the jobs were hard to come by and during such times, I would go to Dandora dumpsite to look for food,” recounts Oduor.
The need to earn a living gnawed at young Oduor, forcing him to venture into entrepreneurship at the age of 10. While searching for something to quench his hunger, he would be lucky to come across plastics and jewelry such as watches, which he sold.
The money afforded him a few ‘luxuries’ including drugs which he started using when he was 13 years old. This was quite the norm in the slums.
In order to maintain this lifestyle Oduor embarked on stealing women’s handbags and even though it pricked his conscience, ‘a man got to do what a man’s got to do’, he reasoned.
However, there comes a time in a person’s life when they have to make a turnaround if they are to achieve their dreams. For Oduor, that happened when he was 16 years old. Tired of the life he was leading, he sought help at Boma Rescue Centre, which offers life skills and mentorship.
He then joined St John Catholic Church in Korogocho, which offered him a semblance of guidance.
Life would suddenly offer him the much-needed lifeline when he was just about to clear high school. World Vision, a humanitarian organization, offered to give the youth in his area vocational training so as to keep them from crime and drugs, which had hit an all-time high in the slum. The organization had partnered with his church and that is how he came to know about the initiative.
“By then, I had developed an interest in media and so when I told them I wanted to do a communications course, they asked me to look for a college once the KCSE results were out and they would cater for the fees. I was still taking drugs and with the opportunity, I knew I had to clean up my act,” says Oduor.
It didn’t take long before he found a college and got admitted to pursue a diploma in Mass Communication with a specialization in TV and Radio Production.
To cater for other costs including transport and food, he dabbled as a tout.
“I successfully finished the course in 2006. The school gave me a small handheld camcorder to start me off in my career. I did a news story which landed me a job with the Nation Media Group as a correspondent. I also got to host a show on QTV. World Vision also contracts me to cover compelling stories on people.”
Paying it forward…
With the big break, Oduor moved out of the slum and was able to settle in a decent estate.
The slum remained part and parcel of him and whenever he went back either on work assignments or to catch up with his childhood friends, he would be touched by the plight of the children. This sharply reminded him of the life he had lived and he empathized with them. He felt compelled to do something to help make their life bearable.
“That’s when I started an initiative called Mng’aro Mtaani in 2010, which got registered in 2015. We have five projects under Mng’aro Mtaani namely: Clothing for Peace, Mid-Term Tournaments, Linda Madem, Masafara Edition and another for old people that we are yet to give a name. We basically take care of the vulnerable in society,” says Oduor.
In His Words
“You need to be trustworthy so that people can give you what they have, knowing that you will take it to those deserving. It is indeed a calling and I am passionate about helping the vulnerable in the society,” he says emphatically.