Steve Mureithi had lived by the bottle most of his adult life.
His neighbours in Ting’ang’a, Kiambu County, knew him as a perennial drunkard and had accepted that would always be his way of life.
However, everything changed when the government announced the crackdown on illicit brews and liquor in July.
Mureithi, 30, was among those who felt the immediate impact of the crackdown.
First, he was dragged from a drinking den by the area MP Jude Njomo, who was accompanied by a large crowd determined to stamp out the vice in the village.
“I wondered why the MP and residents were destroying the brew that had kept me going,” he told the Nation.
A JOURNEY OF MISERY
To him, the drink would drown his frustrations, which mainly stemmed from the fact that the Form Four leaver was unemployed.
A day after the alcohol was destroyed, Mureithi’s body started shaking due to lack of alcohol. It was the first day in a long time to go without alcohol.
The shaking was, to him, yet another sign that he had embarked on a long journey of misery now that he would be without his “companion” — his dear bottle.
“I cannot recall a day I went without alcohol and after the crackdown, I worried about how I would face my tribulations without liquor.
"What was available in the shelves was too expensive for me,” said Mureithi, whose only source of income until then was menial jobs.
However, he did not know that he had taken the first step to freedom from the shackles of alcohol.
After the crackdown, the MP brought together 43 young men and women from across the constituency who had been drastically affected by excessive consumption of alcohol, among them Mureithi, and he sponsored them to join the Munyu Institute of Technology in Ngoliba, Thika, where they took basic electrical and agribusiness courses free of charge.
The institute, which is owned by the lawmaker, also collaborated with anti-drugs agency Nacada and counsellors, who took the 43 through sessions to avoid relapse.
After a month of learning and rehabilitation, the group was ready to graduate, each equipped with skills to enable them to have a decent life.
Joseph Kamau, a recovering addict who learnt basics on electricity installation, said with the skills — he can erect an electrical post, install an electricity meter box and do some wiring — life will never be the same again.
“Now I have skills in what I lacked. I went through a short rehabilitation and I will dedicate myself to putting the skills into use and my only request is that we should not be abandoned because we might relapse,” Kamau said.
A HELPING HAND
Another beneficiary, Daniel Njoroge, said he was rescued from a ditch by the MP, who later took him to the institution.
“I used to do manual work in my Ting’ang’a Village. I would work during the day and in the evening visit my favourite joint, where I would spent all the money on alcohol. Such was my life for several years,” Njoroge said.
Mr Njomo said he had contacted Kenya Power, the Rural Electrification Authority and some contractors and they had agreed to absorb them once they are through with training.
Those who were trained on agribusiness will be helped to venture into farming in their respective areas.
During the short course, others discovered their talents, such as singing and two of them have composed songs with the MP pledging to support them.
A FRESH START
At their graduation ceremony, which was held at the Madaraka Gardens and attended by several MPs from Kiambu, the recovering addicts showcased their skills by demonstrating how to erect an electricity post and a meter box among other tasks.
Dressed in light-blue aprons and helmets, it was hard to believe they are recovering addicts fresh from college.
Impressed by their demonstration, Thika MP Alice Ng’ang’a conducted a fundraiser to see them through the job-hunting period.
A total of Sh80,000 was raised, with Mr Njomo pledging to keep supporting them as his counterparts said they would borrow his idea and implement it at their constituencies.