Joseph Mwaura, Director of GPO Kenya was the first to implement and launch our programs in communities throughout Africa. Youth currently access Writing for the Soul Workshop™ programs in Embu, Isiolo, Kaigo located in Central Kenya.
Joseph was exposed to our program via Facebook friendship with Program Developer Eric L. Jones, Sr. a few years ago. He saw the program’s impact in the US and knew without a doubt that Writing for the Soul Workshop™ would do the same for children in Africa …perhaps even more. Joseph was right! Some of the youth attending our writing programs there in Africa are featured as authors in Pieces of Me Anniversary Edition by Writing for the Soul Workshop™. As part of Certification to provide our programs, Joseph had to share his story with us. We’ve never made his story public until now. This is Joseph’s story:
When I look back to the past where I struggled with problems especially in my personal life and social circles, it becomes quite a noble thing to narrate for the posterity. I started off as an African young man growing in a middle class town in central Kenya. I went through the stage of adolescence with its own challenges and black spots. My buddies were as confused as I was with no sense of direction. I experimented with almost every bad habit there was from dope and illicit brew -to shoplifting.
I would wake up every morning feeling so empty and angry at everything including my peers and my parents. I would be angry with my parents for not giving me money to spend on drugs and then angry with my peers for not living up to my expectations. I remember I ran away from school at the age of 16 to sell drugs and brew at a local joint. This is where life worsened and I almost lost my life within the space of 3 months.
Drug peddling is a dangerous undertaking with threats on all sides. I dreamt of becoming a rich drug baron like my employer and thus I worked hard to recruit new users every day. The pay was very minimal though I would steal from my sales. I joined a gang of good for nothing guys where we would fight with other gangs from the neighborhoods sometimes throughout the night. One night I was cornered in a bar where a fight erupted, I had only three of my buddies with me. The fight didn’t end so well for me. I was admitted in the hospital, and in a coma. One of my buddies wasn’t as fortunate as me. He died. This was the turning point in my life.
The police came for me in the hospital and I was chained throughout. I knew I had escaped death narrowly and that I would live to regret this episode. My other two buddies had escaped with minor injuries and thus were ready to stand a trial. The bar owner was present in the court to testify over the case and he laid the blame on the gang. This was a relief to us though my buddies had to serve jail sentences of six months each.
I started to recuperate, and after a while I left the hospital. My family had a lawyer for me and I was sentenced to serve two months for my part in the bar fight. This was a time of reflection and I met with all sort people in jail. This the time I heard of Writing for the Soul Workshop™ through the internet. I didn’t join up until several years after I had gone back to school.
When I wrote to the program director Eric Jones, he later called me through my cell phone. We had a lengthy conservation. The rest is history as the program is now being implemented in schools and we’re heading to prisons where it was born. Though we are facing problems associated with developing countries like mine, this program has given me hope as I reach out to my buddies who are responding one by one. Each of them are reaching out and saving many more youth from lost lives through the precious gift of Writing for the Soul Workshop™. –Joseph Mwaura
Writing for the Soul Workshop™ is a proven and viable tool for any school, or youth mentoring organization. What’s more exciting is that the youth also benefit in multiple ways. Writing for the Soul Workshop™ differs from other “writing as therapy” type programs because our participants have the opportunity to become published authors, and earn an income based on a self created marketing strategy with expert advice. This long term financial opportunity for participants creates a strong desire to continue moving forward towards their dreams.
Our core program philosophy is based on the fact that powerful emotions have a powerful voice; and that when we get what is on the inside out, we take control of those feelings, and make smarter behavior choices as a result. Our workshops offer participants the opportunity to put their learning into action, and build their financial independence. The flexibility of our program means that any school or organization can benefit from our curriculum, and positively impact the academic success of their students. Our program offers adaptations for Individuals with Differential Abilities, focused on what they can accomplish, not their “special needs.”
Our workshop addresses not just educational outcomes, but emotional and physical needs as well. Here are the wow factors experienced by participants in Writing for the Soul Workshop™ :
- Experience writing as therapy
- Access to counseling
- Nutritious meals and snacks
- Lasting, positive friends and mentors creating an ongoing network of support
- Increased proficiency in both reading and writing
- Participants become published Authors, and can promote that skill on every future resume and job application
- Participants earn royalties based on individual book sales
- Participants establish strong accomplishments that will help with future entry into colleges and the job market
These unique wow factors go beyond helping participants develop a love of writing; they produce long term behavioral changes and helps participants make positive life choices. While it may seem incredible that a writing workshop can impact behavior so dramatically, Writing for the Soul Workshop™ is more than just a writing workshop, it is an opportunity for individuals to see a different perspective, to interact with others that truly care about them and their story, and to know that telling their story opens up new opportunities.
Want to test our program in your community there in Africa? Contact Joseph directly to find out how to book an Expo, submit your story in our Writing Contest, or how to make Writing for the Soul Workshop™ a viable component to what your school, church or organization already has in place. You can reach Joseph directly by email at email@example.com or by phone at: +254716256879.