“I Learnt to Accept Diversity”

Victor is from Kenya. He is the Founder and Director of "Garden of Hope Foundation" a Community Based Organisation in Kenya. Victor is passionate about the youth, and his hope is to provide sustainable solutions to 10,000 youths by the year 2020. “One youth at a time" is his motto". Victor Odhiambo's mentor is Roula A. Douglas.

Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story! 

A: Kenya is a country in East Africa with over 43 tribes. This brings the diversity in the country, the capital city of Kenya, is called Nairobi. Kenya has a population of over 45+ million people. Kenya boast of humid and warm tropical climate on the Indian Ocean coast line. Kenya is popular known for its national game parks and safaris. I was born and raised in Kibera slum, the largest urban slum in sub-Sahara Africa.

I went to primary and secondary school in Kibera, later I joined Nairobi Training College for a Diploma in Information Technology. My life was very tough when growing up. It is estimated that a family in Kibera leave under 1 dollar a day, access to school materials, clothes, food was a challenge to me. It was because of these challenges which encouraged me to work hard and later assist my fellow youths. I am the current Director/Founder of a community-based organisation in Kibera slum called Garden of Hope Foundation.

Garden of Hope Foundation is to provide sustainable solutions to youths in marginalised communities through mentorship, leadership and entrepreneurship and also offer them volunteer opportunities. I have worked with over 3,500 youths in Kenya.

Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?

A: I think the world today is better compared to 20 or so years ago, technology has changed the way we work, access various products and services, people are more creative and it provides many social and economic opportunities. Many citizens of various countries are more sensitive to several issues of national concern. In terms of leadership, I still think there is a gap, the need to have more youthful leaders. I would like to see more young people holding leadership positions in my country.

A better world for me means that citizens of a particular country are able to access affordable resources, more job opportunities for the youths and participation of citizens regardless of religion, colour, or level. 

Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?

A: These are:

  • Crime among the youth
  • Drug abuse
  • Access to information and resources
  • Lack of job/unemployment

Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?

A: Growing up in Kibera slum was difficult, because of the fact that my parents did not have stable jobs I had to work sometimes to cater for my needs and for those of my siblings, this affected my studies and sometimes I was not able to join classes. Sometimes I stayed home for months because I could not afford to pay school or get school uniform.

The housing infrastructure in Kibera is not stable; the houses are made of mud. Sometimes when it rained, we had the house flooded and all the clothes soaked in water. Access to sanitation facilities was a major challenge when growing up.

Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?

A: As a youth, I need someone who I can learn from and probably someone who can help me look at life in a more different way. I also need someone who can correct me if I make a mistake and provide possible direction and guidance. The role of a mentor is important because of the fact that he/she can help me walk through life.

Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?

A: Life has taught me to share, be kind, love more and accept people regardless of the many differences we have. I learnt to accept diversity.

Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!

A: Abbas Gullet, Secretary General Kenya Red Cross

Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!

A: “Leadership is unlocking the potential of others”.

Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.  

A: I’ve learned to be honest and a good communicator.