Teenage is an explosive time that needs lots of sobriety to pass through. Because of the sensitivity of the period, many people shy away from advising these energetic, enthusiastic and moody teens, leaving them to navigate their way through that phase of their life. Parents usually cross their fingers and pray that their children will turn out just right.
The Glory Voices group encourages young people to make wise choices in life. PHOTOS: COURTESY/STANDARD
But a group of women has decided to break this cycle — by targeting high school students and talking about issues that worry them.
Glory Voices, an organisation founded by three women in 2003 to work with teenagers, has grown and is effectively touching lives of many young people every year.
The three founders — Florence Ambayo, Tabitha Ogango and Margaret Lubaale — started off informally by inviting each other to official functions any of them was invited to.
Ambayo could be invited to sing and she would invite Ogango to play the piano for her, or Lubaale, a teacher, would be called to preach and invited the others to join her. Within no time, they had learnt many things and they needed to do something to help students struggling with immense feelings of uncertainty and peer pressure.
In their time, the women went through school without much ado as they were staunch Christians. Current pressures, however, are different from those of their days — and that is how they come in; to encourage the growing and equip them with skills to overcome pressure and temptations.
Ambayo points to the things they have to deal with as diverse; ranging from academics and career choices to errant behaviours such as drug use and prostitution.
They started by attracting busy career women to join them because they wanted these women to give back and at the same time dispel the notion that busy career women cannot find time for such activities. Indeed most members are extremely busy but they find time for Glory Voices, which can take them anywhere in the country on short notice.
Members join as volunteers, driven by a passion to nurture the young. These members sign up for a year. “After one year, they have the option of going on or leaving the group,” explains Ambayo.
This, she says, is basically to gauge the members. At the same time, although some have stayed with Glory Voices for even up to three years, she says members are encouraged to take a break.
Although principally brought together by their love for the gospel, the group uses this interaction with teenagers to reach out to them in different ways.
Thus when invited to secondary schools, Ambayo will also speak on careers while another member, a motivational speaker, would also take the students through the same.
“We use the opportunity to counsel and allow them to talk about issues they would not talk to teachers or parental figures,” explains Ambayo.
Working with schools, she says, is both challenging and fulfilling. “We have had some students come to us and express gratitude,” she says, adding that it is moments like this that make them carry on.
Social constructions make certain professions admirable and as such children end up pursuing professions they have no interest in except being perceived as prestigious.
Ambayo points out that there is one important thing parents and guardians miss when dealing with children; they ignore the individual passions of a child and hence are unable to aid them in pursuing the same.
Getting knowledge about careers enables students to go into something they understand.
For example, Ambayo says she found herself in accounting by default and stayed in the profession for about 15 years before realising it was not the thing for her. Something she attributes both to failure to recognise her own passion early enough and social constructions, which presented accounting as a prestigious career with people urging her on.
Ambayo says their focus is on secondary schools because they are driven by a desire to help this age deal with the many pressures facing them.
Although the members are attached to their individual churches, they do not work with any particular church, making the group open for anyone ready for this commitment.
Apart from working with schools they have also ministered in various churches.
Among the schools they have been to is Moi High School Kabarak, Ng’iya Girls in Siaya, Kapropita Girls’ and State House Girls’, among others around the country.
Despite this being a taxing endeavour, Ambayo says it is worth the effort.
“Our reach may not be big, but we touch a few, each of them is unique. It is wrong to point fingers at this generation,” she says.
Their vision is to reach as many schools as possible and form little chapters across the country. They hope their work will make an impact on individuals and their lives, and for them, this is motivation enough.
By Ferdinand Mwongela, The Standard