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Slum boys’ trade that is a ‘death’ armour

Updated Thursday, December 1st 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3
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By Patrick Githinji

Eight years ago, Peter Mwangi and Joseph Ndinya stared at death. Mwangi was walking to a football pitch to join his friends in preparation for an upcoming football tournament when the police arrested him.

The policemen, he says, alleged that he was among the gang that terrorised motorists in the area — a claim he denied.

Peter Mwangi (left), chairman of White Charcoal Youth Group and Joseph Ndinya, the group’s secretary [Photo: Jonah Onyango/Standard]

"They pointed a gun at me and I thought I was going to die. I was later released. They didn’t have evidence against me," Mwangi recalls.

He says police have shot many young men in Dandora on similar allegations, some totally innocent.

The deadly incident completely changed the lives of the two from slum idlers to businessmen.

The duo are members of White Charcoal Youth Group located in Dandora. The youth group makes eco friendly charcoal from waste paper and saw dust.

Mwangi is the group chairman while Ndinya is the secretary.

Before the group came to life, Mwangi and Ndinya both orphans were idlers in the vast Dandora slum.

"We would wake up in the morning and watch people as they went to work. We would sometimes do menial jobs, but they were hard to find," Mwangi says.

When the area catholic parish priest heard the young men’s’ story, he convened an urgent meeting to chart a way forward.

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