Joel Odhiambo

The path of reintegration

The father of two, lives in Siaya County where he is currently constructing a semi-permanent house, less than four years after leaving prison with proceeds from the sale of detergent. While serving his sentence at Ruiru Prison, he met Susan, a RODI Kenya Staff, who taught him and other prisoners a lot of skills in sustainable agriculture agro- processing, value addition and making of hygiene and domestic products (such as making of bleach, detergent, disinfectant etc.).

“Nikienda kwa hizo hardware wakiona vile mi naendelea wananipatia tu materials. Nikiuza sabuni, nawalipa. Pia nilienda kwa agrovet nikaomba mbegu na fertilizer, alafu nikiuza sabuni nalipa. Wananijua mi ni mtu wa bidii sana.”

RODI is a local NGO that partners with the Kenya Prisons Service to support in rehabilitation of prisoners by equipping them with skills and knowledge through which they are able to endear themselves to the community and fast track their reintegration while reducing the rate of reoffending.

“In Kenya, the rate of reoffending is approximately at 40%, but through our restorative prisoner rehabilitation program, we have managed to reduce the rate of reoffending to 4- 6% among ex-prisoners who are trained and provided with reintegration support by RODI.” Nyaga, Program Coordinator – RODI.

When he was released from prison in October 2016, he reached out to Susan who was able to support him with a start-up kit of materials to produce 30 litres soap and 20 litres bleach. She then connected him with Gladys, a RODI Kenya who is based in Kisumu, who visited him and further boosted his start-up kit by providing him with maize seeds for planting, fertilizer and materials for making soap.

In March 2020, he had planted maize on more than two acres of land, and he was certain of a bumper harvest of not less than 25 bags of maize which would fetch Kshs 100,000 – Kshs 120,000. However, the recent floods that have been experienced in the county have damaged all his crop. To supplement his income, RODI has since supported him with material for liquid soap making.

To date, his sales from liquid soap have gone up because of the Coronavirus pandemic and the emphasis on regular hand-washing.