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Person of The Month – Thomas Juma

Jul 1, 2024

Who is Thomas ? (personally and professionally)

Thomas Juma is a professional broadcast journalist, counselling psychologist, public relations expert, project coordinator, team-building coach, and events organiser. My passion lies in community work, especially with the youth. This journey began 14 years ago when I joined Youth Alive Kenya under Eldoret working group, where I co-founded the youth group Creative Artists for Change with other young people.

I have received several awards for community service at the county, regional, and national levels through various projects.

Tell us about your organisation .

Creative Artists for Change is a registered youth organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people. Originally, it began as a theatre group using participatory educational theatre to reach out to young people in Uasin Gishu County on peacebuilding and reconciliation under an Uraia project. Capacity building from Youth Alive Kenya in 2010 made us realize there was more for us to handle, leading to our expansion into good governance and human rights, economic empowerment for youth, environmental conservation, and gender issues as additional thematic areas.

Since then, we have secured funding from USAID, Media Focus on Africa, Church World Service, and LSU Sweden to carry out leadership and governance initiatives and economic empowerment through forums, training, and capacity-building sessions for young people in Uasin Gishu County. Despite limited funding, we have created partnerships, collaborations, and networks with different stakeholders, including civil society networks and county and national government.

Our projects have empowered many youth in the community to make informed decisions and choices, take up leadership positions, and find job opportunities within and outside the county.

Currently, we are reaching out to youth in institutions for environmental sessions and organizing cleanup exercises at marketplaces, riverbeds, and public car stages. We also hold a monthly outreach cookout session at various children’s homes in Uasin Gishu County. Our organization works closely with the county government, especially in mobilizing the youth for public participation sessions on budget and development projects.

What challenges have you faced in this work as a young leader?

Life is not always smooth. Often, I want to achieve great things, but a lack of funds limits my activities. Many youth expect something in return for their involvement in activities. Sometimes, I lack support from the very youth I strive to help, and I end up doing things myself. At one point, I felt like giving up on youth issues, but capacity building from Youth Alive Kenya kept me going.

 

What are your proudest achievements as a young leader?

As a youth leader, I am proud to have mentored many young people in Uasin Gishu County and the North Rift region. Many other youth organizations have emerged through Creative Artists for Change, and youth have represented the country and county through our efforts. A lot of youth have been trained and involved in various projects that I have initiated.

As a media personality, I have given voices to the youth through a television program (Youth Talk Show) where young people discuss many issues affecting them.

What has it taken to achieve your success? What advice would you give to other young leaders trying to build organisations

A lot of watching and learning from others, admitting when I need help, and wanting to be taught have shaped my journey. Patience, resilience, and tolerance with respect are crucial. Bad times do not last forever, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Making mistakes is part of learning. You are allowed to take a break, reset, and restart. Live your life because you are the one who determines what type of person you want to be. Avoid bad influences and stay on the bright side of life.

Parting shot?

Learn to focus. We are living in a world where we constantly feel the need to prove we are better than others. Run your own race. You were not wired for defeat

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