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Introduction to The Maa Trust’s Latest Addition: Isaac Tobiko, Child Counsellor.

Isaac Tobiko

I was born in a rural village in Kajiado County. I am the second last born in a family of six children (three boys and three girls) in a monogamous family setup. My father understood the value of education and was able to send us to the local school, which was a few kilometers from home.

Life in the village was not easy as the community always looked down on us due to our humble background. Violence against children was a daily norm. I encountered violence myself and witnessed it happening to the people I know. Experiencing violence both at home and in school left me a very scared and withdrawn child.

Isaac during The Maa Trust's scholarship children's holiday camp training

I was also a very small-bodied child during my primary school days and that was a good recipe for in-school bullying by both boys and girls in our school. I was literally the schools “punching bag” and no one seemed to care. I used to cry a lot. There was a time I contemplated running away from school but my father got wind of it and I was thoroughly beaten up. These challenges somehow hardened my resolve not to become a victim of my own circumstances. I started working hard in school and paid a lot of attention to my teachers. I had scars on my body that always reminded me of the violence and the pain that I passed through. It is from this pain that I promised myself that no child will suffer the way I suffered.

Children who grew up with me dropped from school. I on the other hand continued to study hard through high school. When it was my time to join the tertiary level (college), my father wanted me to become a teacher but my desire was to become a psychologist in order to assist children and women in distress. This did not go well with my father as he considers teaching a very lucrative profession with easy employment opportunities. When I did not agree to join a teaching course in favour of my dream profession of counseling, my father refused to pay my school fees. Due to this, I had to look for ways to pay my fees. I could not afford to pay for a degree and so I had to start my journey of becoming a psychologist from a certificate course level and then later all the way to the degree level.

I started working as a community health volunteer with orphans and other vulnerable children on access to health services. This was a success as children with malnutrition reduced significantly in my village, but my goal of supporting children in distress had not been achieved yet as children were still being violated in the community.

It is from this that I decided to be a vocal child rights advocate with day to day contact with children who needed immediate help. It was, however, a challenging experience. One time I had to run away from my home as some local women were demonstrating against me interfering with their right to circumcise their girls. These are some of the deep-rooted retrogressive practices that I am still speaking and acting against in my indigenous pastoral community.

The right to access education is one sure way of ensuring that we have a society in the future that respects children’s rights and also does not practice retrogressive cultural practices.

The Maa Trust, through the support from Crossing Borders, has given me a chance to fill the position of a Child Counsellor; to continue supporting children in their day to day psychosocial needs at the community level and especially during this Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to working with the children of the Maasai Mara and their families.


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