Benjamin Ogunyo

Ashoka Fellow
Eldoret, Kenya
Fellow Since 2004

Citation

This profile was prepared when Benjamin Ogunyo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Frustrated by the growing multitudes of children living on Kenya’s streets, Benjamin decided the only lasting way to help street kids is to begin at home—the very place they originally abandoned. He believes that no matter how difficult the situation, the best solution for everyone lies in reuniting families and rekindling emotional bonds that have been stressed to the limits by external pressures. While existing programs exacerbate desperate situations by locking troubled youth up and further isolating them, Benjamin’s program successfully gets kids off the streets, and back into their communities, improving life for the entire family.
Benjamin’s organization, koinonia, a Greek word, that means “doing it together in partnership”—is set up to engage youth and their estranged families to work toward successful reconciliation. The program is no easy task, demanding long hours of dedication: Benjamin and his team befriend youth on the streets and learn about each child’s circumstances, then convince the entire family to commit to a carefully planned strategy for reuniting. Though this first step is emotional, the second is more practical. To alleviate economic instability—a major cause of stress—the team provides counseling and job skills training. They tackle the situation with long-term goals in mind, supporting education for young children, apprenticeships for older ones, cooperative childcare among families, joint venture initiatives, and business microloans—all to strengthen entire communities and give parents a second chance with their children.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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