A former street boy from Nyeri County is now earning a living by making jewellery from e-waste.
David Nderitu says his venture into the profit-making jewellery business can be attributed to motivational speakers who always visited the Children, Youth Empowerment Centre in Nyeri County where he had been taken in.
The centre, he says, gets professors from universities like the Pennsylvania State University in the USA and The University of Nairobi who give motivational forums on creation of employment through the use of waste materials.
That was where he got his concepts from.
At 16, Nderitu was picked by an administrator to join a children’s home in Thunguma where he first realised that indeed there could be life out of the streets.
He was then enrolled into a welding programme in the jua kali sector at the centre from which he got the unique idea of making jewellery using scrap-material from phones and computer motherboards for a tidy sum for his pocket money.
Nothing good comes easy, he says, adding that he has keen interests in environmental sustainability and he feels bad when the soil is “poisoned” by such waste materials.
“It makes every ecological sense as well as economic sense to recycle waste materials instead of disposing them to cause hazardous effects to the soil,” he says. He notes that the end results of poor soils is poor crop yields.
His decision to collect waste material from waste computer motherboards and phones was to make jewellery for women and in the end contribute to preventing the hazardous effects on the soil.
Nderitu, who was once in the streets, is now an exact contrast of what he was when he was a street kid.
He is now a passionate boy with unique ideas contradicting the perception the world often creates of street children.
“I was once in the streets. And it was hard for me to imagine that I would ever get this far,” he says as he displays his artworks for sale.
His greatest support comes from his sponsors and mates who offer him materials for his e-waste jewellery venture at a little or no price at all.
However, the form four student at Temple Road Secondary School in Nyeri town says he at times gets his materials locally at a price, with a piece going for Sh500.
He buys the earring hooks from the Maasai market in Nairobi at an affordable price, he says.
“I always thank God for them,” he says noting that his abilities saw him get sponsorship to join secondary school.
He adds that he had attained a grade three certificate from a welding course he earlier did.
Despite his tight school schedule, Nderitu is quick to add that he is able to juggle with his roles as well as create time for steering his venture.
He manages to make 60 pairs of earrings from the scrap materials in about 15 days.
Further, he says no venture comes without challenges and his is no exception.
At the beginning, Nderitu says he was forced to make the earrings as a hobby as there was no market then for his unique products.
He however managed to fetch Sh2000 from the initial sale.
Although his products have not yet penetrated into the larger local market, he says that sponsors from Penn State University in the USA always get the earrings in bulk after their annual visits to the centre.
A pair of earrings sold abroad by his sponsors would fetch him Sh1000 thus while locally it is sold for Sh300.
The once underprivileged destitute boy is now reaping the fruits of his leisure time pursuit and for him there is no turning back.
“There is always a way out in every situation no matter what,” says Nderitu urging other children in the streets to embrace change and do something constructive.
He acknowledges the children’s home for giving hope to the needy saying that he now faces the world with a different perspective.
“I chose to venture into producing e-waste jewellery after discovering my potential while in my new home.
The little I get gives me the energy to keep on going,” he adds saying that he has dreams of joining a reputable university for an engineering course.
“I will keep hitting the rock until it breaks,” says the once impoverished street urchin.