Kibera informal settlement is the biggest slum in Africa and home to approximately 1.2 million slum dwellers living in an area of 2.5 square kilometer in size. About 75 percent of this population are under the age of 18.Characterized by youth unemployment, abject poverty, periodic ethnic violence, the majority of youths are vulnerable to negative manipulation by powerful politicians to incite ethnic conflict. During the 2007/2008 Post Election Violence (PEV), the situation was worse in Kibera. Youths were hired by rogue politicians to cause conflict and violent crimes that claimed many lives, property destroyed, and caused forceful displacement of people subjecting innocent mothers and children to unbearable suffering. Dan Orogo was among the youths who engineered chaos during this time.
Having lost both parents in 2007, Dan was forced to drop out of the University of Nairobi where he was studying Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science as he was unable to pay fee. Life became harder than expected as he now acquired new responsibilities of providing food and shelter for his three other siblings. This pushed him to join several gang groups for survival.
Dan’s journey of transformation started in 2012 during the launch of Global Communities/ USAID-supported Kenya Tuna Uwezo program (KTU) in Kibera. The speech delivered by KTU’s Directors, Selline Korir on this day, changed his attitude and perception about violence as a means of survival.” Selline’s speech touched me. Selline said that the youths can actually change Kibera to be a peaceful place and make victims and perpetrators of 2007/08 Post Election Violence reconcile and work together for community development,” said Dan.
To break the cycle of ethnic violence and crime in Kibera, KTU focused on building capacities of youths and other community stake holders through trainings on peace building, Do-No-Harm concept, trauma healing and entrepreneurship. This became the turning of many other youths in Kibera. A Cohesion Champion model was developed by the program where reformed youths like Dan were engaged to promote inter-ethnic tolerance through community dialogues.” KTU trained us as Cohesion Champions in 2013.This bestowed on us the responsibility of becoming peace makers. The Do-No-Harm, conflict resolution, paralegal, and entrepreneurship trainings has taught me to be sensitive when dealing with other communities. I am an agent of change. I can now engage community members for a good course non-violently,” said Dan. The peace and political tolerance experienced in Kenya during the 2013 general election, was largely as a result of Global Communities (through KTU program) engaging reformed youths like Dan who were perpetrators of 2007/08 PEV, to participate in election monitoring and the coordination of conflict early warning early response mechanism.
Dan’s role in peace building has been recognized by other international organizations and peace actors. Action Aid, an international NGO working in Kenya, documented his work then invited him to Denmark in 2015 to participate in the Super 17 Program-a program that targets 17 sharp global leaders to foster global partnership for sustainable peaceful cities. Dan is also the Brand Ambassador of Safe Cities campaign in Kenya and Denmark. The campaign seeks to involve young people living in slums to initiate processes of address social issues that affect them.
Because of his passion in championing for peace and development in Kibera, the United States embassy in Kenya, awarded him the most coveted membership card of American Reference Centre that provides learning opportunities and materials on American policies to Kenya at the embassy. Dan is also a member of the Young African Leadership Initiative, YALI.
Today, Dan has gone back to college, and continues to pursue his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science at the University of Nairobi. He uses his free time to give inspirational talks to students and youth groups on the effects of crime. This has helped to create community resilience against the culture of violence in Kibera. His dream is to see a peaceful Kibera where youths engage in constructive development activities and not violent crime.