Do you see Njoroge or a 'Vampire'
Nakuru January 10 2018
Njoroge Matheri is your average guy who have endured a lot from his childhood days. He lost his only parent early in life and was violently abused by his foster parent. To find some peace and escape the beatings, he run away and became a 'street boy' in Naivasha town.
He had a rough time adjusting to street life but finally acclimatized and become a loader. But as fate would have it, this was not the end of an unfortunate start of his life. He gradually developed a mental illness that made him delusional and sometimes aggressive.
How finally found himself in the hands of a pastor who saw him as an easy target to increase his church following and make money. His severe mental illness make him delusional and what a great opportunity to talk about stuff that never happened. And the rest is history!
I have spent the last five months offering psychosocial support to him at Nakuru main prison. We developed a strong bond and a friendship that only people who are segregated and discriminated by the society will understand.
Through my organization Psychiatric Disability Organization, we have provided him with therapy and social support that has raised his self-esteem and enhanced his recovery.
Upon his release by the a Nakuru Court for lack of evidence on 22nd December 2017, we bumped into each other at prison gate.
As a trusted old friend, he confided with me his fears, the challenges that come with his release and the cloud of uncertainty that hang over his head due to the society's misunderstanding of his mental health condition.
As a mental health advocate, I reassured him that our friendship went beyond prison walls and I will do my best to help. PDO offers a safe support system for people in his shoes.
I spent the first week with him offering him food, clothes and accommodation. Watch my conversation with him as we drove to work and tell me whether you see Njoroge or 'Naivasha Vampire'
Iregi Mwenja - PDO CEO
Acumen East Africa Fellow 2018
Restaurant Service Training
Nakuru 30th December 2017
After serving time in prison, women ex-offenders are released with significant and ongoing economic and societal obstacles that often prevent them from thriving, thus indirectly pushing them back to crime, and back into the prison system.
Many employers refuse to hire ex-convicts, and systemic collateral consequences restrict tens of thousands of ex-offenders’ legal rights, which essentially extends their punishment beyond prison and inhibits their ability to function as normal, law abiding citizens.
PDO with support from French Embassy in Kenya has been offering vocational training to inmates a part of their preparation for socio-economic integration.
More Vocation Skills for Inmates
Nakuru 1st December 2017
A huge number of women serving short term sentences in prison mostly are poor single mothers trying to feed their families through selling illicit drinks.
PDO have over the last year learnt that to reduce recidivism, fight drug abuse, eradicate extreme poverty and improve psychological well-being, inmates need a smooth transition from prison back to their community.
One of the ways this can be done is through socio-economic empowerment and psychological support both in prison and after release. PDO has designed simple, practical vocational skills training in different market oriented skills through short intensive practical skills transfer courses to enable the trainees to get formal or informal employment with support from the French Embassy's PISCCA Fund.
Our approach takes care of those who cannot read and write as illiteracy is high among incarcerated women. In addition to practical skills, the trainees are also taught skills about how to start and run a successful business and basic life skills to enable them create an income for themselves and their families and fit-in well back in the society.
“Apart from selling Chang’aa, I didn't have any skills to help me start a legal business but now I am acquiring my first vocational skills courtesy of PDO. I want to clean money instead of selling Chang’aa and risking another arrest and imprisonment” says one of the trainee.
PDO Marks Mental Health Day
Focusing on mental health in schools.
Written by Susan Mutahi, 13th October 2017
A mental health charity in Nakuru on Tuesday conducted mental health awareness campaigns and talk therapy sessions for students at Afraha High School and Rurii Secondary School to celebrate this year’s World Mental Health Day.
Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO), an organization made up of professional counselors and survivors of mental illness conducted the event simultaneously in the two schools.
World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10th every year with the overall objective of raising awareness on mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health. Mental health in the workplace was the theme for 2017.... Read More
French Embassy Grant
We are happy to have recently received support from the French Embassy in Kenya, through the PISCCA fund. PDO has initiated a socioeconomic integration project for women released from prison.
This project seeks to help these disadvantaged women to overcome systemic social, health and economic disadvantages and to enable them live a normal productive life. the grant also enable PDO to extends psycho-social support to families of the inmates.
KTN NEWS: Life after prison for ex-offenders
Inmates at Nakuru women's prison are benefiting from a socioeconomic integration project spearheaded by Psychiatric Disability Organization. Rita Tinina narrates.
NAKURU DAILY: Older inmates remembered
Written by Mercy Mon'gare, 3rd October 2017
It was fun and dance at the Nakuru GK prison on Monday when three organizations from Nakuru celebrated the International Day of Older Persons with elderly inmates at the men’s prison.
Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO), the Kenya Red Cross and Nakuru Players Theater joined hands to bring smiles to the older inmates faces most of whom are spending their twilight years forgotten by families and friends.
The day set aside by the United Nations is commemorated on October 1st. This year’s theme is “Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.” Read more
HIV/AIDS Psycho-education Workshop
Nakuru December 31st 2017
New Year’s Eve was a day like no other at Nakuru women prison. It was a day when inmates held their first fully-fledged workshop similar to workshops carried out in hotels.
Iregi Mwenja, PDO Founder/CEO facilitated the workshop dubbed “Psychosocial issues related to HIV/AIDS in prison” assisted by Jesse Maingi. The participants were inmates and prison staff.
The workshop was organized in collaboration with Mwangaza, a support group for inmates living positively with HIV. The support group had earlier invited PDO to provide training and awareness raising on psychosocial issues relating to HIV/AIDS.
In his presentation, Iregi Mwenja made a passionate plea to inmates to stop stigmatizing and discriminating those living with the virus but instead support them by showing them love since HIV is an illness like any other.
Women in Kenya are more vulnerable to HIV infections compared to Kenyan men, with the national HIV prevalence at 7.0 per cent for women and 4.7 per cent for men.
Sadly, women in prison bear the blunt of HIV burden with estimates thought to be up to 32%. This is because women who are most vulnerable to HIV are those at increased risk for incarceration.
The same social and economic conditions and human rights violations that increase vulnerability to HIV also increase susceptibility to imprisonment.
Nakuru 24th November 2017
It was song and dance at Nakuru Women Prison when 14 inmates and four warders graduated after an intensive basic training in baking and pastry.
The vocational course taught by London Bakers proprietor was offered as part of capacity building for inmates in order to equip them with vocational skills that will enable them earn a lawful living upon release.
This is part of our wider strategy by PDO to reduce recidivism, fight drug abuse, eradicate extreme poverty and improve psychological well-being of inmates, through socio-economic empowerment.
To achieve this, PDO designed simple, practical vocational training in different market oriented skills through short intensive practical skills transfer courses to enable the ex-offenders get formal or informal employment, with support from the French Embassy's PISCCA Fund.
Inmates could not hide their excitement after receiving their certificates from the Officer in Charge Mrs Emily Momanyi who encouraged them to make good use of the skills they learnt to avoid getting on the wrong side of the Law again. Simon Githua of London Bakers was also present.
Our CEO Iregi Mwenja promised to provide more vocational training to inmates who have reformed and are willing to start their life afresh upon release.
Mental Health and Festivities
Managing Anxiety as a Host for the Holidays
By Jennifer Scott, Guest contributor 18th December 2017
The holidays are definitely not the most wonderful time of the year for most people. Overloaded schedules, bad weather, and the pressures of family are ripe to cause anxiety in even the coolest cucumber. If you are planning on making meals or hosting relatives over the holidays, there are a few ways to help reduce stress so you can actually enjoy the season.
How the Prison Project was Conceived
Mental disorders affect one in four of us over a lifetime. It represents a huge cost to our health care systems and affects some of the world’s most vulnerable people, among them prisoners. Mental illness rate in prisoners is three times higher than in the general population and it is more common in females rather than males.
At Nakuru Women Prison, we work with prison authorities to provide psychosocial support to inmates and prison staff. PDO employs a three-pronged approach;
1. Social support to enhance quality of life,
2. Psychological support to improve mental health, and
3. Emotional well-being and material support for personal items that are inadequate. Read More
NAKURU DAILY: Inmates get legal aid clinic
Written by Susan Mutahi, 23rd September 2017
Kabarak University Law Students teamed up with Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO), a Nakuru based charity to provide free legal advice to remandees at Nakuru Women Prison.
PDO, a charity that works with the most marginalized and the most vulnerable in Nakuru has a formal working relationship with Nakuru GK Prisons aimed at providing inmates with the much-needed psychological support within prison.
“Inmates and remandees (most of them semi-illiterate) have repeatedly told us how stressful and intimidating court processes are. Lack of representation and more so lack of basic knowledge on how to represent themselves is psychological draining” said Iregi Mwenja the Founder/CEO of PDO. Read more
Why expressive therapy for inmates
Some people have reservation with regards to expressive therapy in prison. We are asked, “Why should we make life easier for these convicts?” “They’ve broken laws and now we’re going to let them play?” “Shouldn’t they be getting punishment for the crime they did?”
I remind them that main reason we have prisons is rehabilitation and usually rehabilitation start in the mind. The first major step towards rehabilitation is psychological and that is why we provide expressive therapy and other forms of therapies to help prisoners accept their status and start reforming.
Secondly, studies have found that about three quarters of female inmates in jails meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis and co-occurring substance abuse diagnosis. In addition, the majority of incarcerated women have a history of trauma including sexual, emotional and physical abuse as children and adults and have a co-occurring mental health diagnoses at the time of incarceration. Read More