21 and the world is yours
- Hello good peopleI hope you have time to check out the story of one of the REPACTED's member deing futured at www.abcnews.com this is how the run the story there is also a video about Mwai Ngugi and his work with REPACTED on the site.If you are a 21-year-old male in Kenya , statistically, you are nearly halfway through your life. Extreme poverty, poor health care and an AIDS epidemic all contribute to a life expectancy of 46 years. In addition, recent political tensions in the country have led to the deaths of more than 1,200 people -- destroying homes and displacing tens of thousands. The future doesn't appear bright.Jim Scuitto interviews Mwai Ngugi, a 21-year-old Kenyan who dreams of stardom.It makes Mwai Ngugi, as a 21-year-old from Nakuru, "sad and bitter," but he isn't letting it get him down. Instead, he uses his time and talents to fight back.WATCH "World News with Charles Gibson" TONIGHT at 6:30 p.m. ET for the full report.His dreams of fame and fortune on the stage or on television are like those of many other young people around the world. But while he waits for his big break, he puts his acting talents to use. Mwai performs in improvisational street theater productions in some of Nakuru's poorest neighborhoods.The acting troupe is called Repacted, and is part of the Nakuru Theater Players Group. It is funded by grants and private donations, with some of the money coming from the United States . Its annual $25,000 budget goes almost entirely to production costs, the publishing of materials and transportation. So some months Mwai makes less than a dollar, but he doesn't do what he does for money. He does it, he says, "because I care about what is happening to the young people of Kenya ."We saw Mwai and the rest of Repacted put on a presentation in the hilltop slum of Hilton on the outskirts of Nakuru. It was the group's fourth visit to the area, part of its strategy of reinforcing the message. It started by trying to rev up the crowd with singing, dancing and whistling. A small crowd, mostly children, began to form, following Mwai and his troupe through the garbage-strewn streets. The promise of prizes brings a few more onlookers. The small children are separated from the teenagers and adults for other activities before the more serious topics are introduced.Today's skits teach about the dangers of drug addiction and alcohol abuses. Glue sniffers as young as 7 or 8 are a common sight on the streets of Nakuru. Mwai says they are rounded up and put in homes but regularly escape and go back to the streets. Hilton's residents seem uninterested, and the crowd thins as the production continues, but Mwai's enthusiasm is undimmed. If he can reach just one person, "I am making an impact," he says, and "nothing makes me smile more than seeing the crowd react to when I am performing." He makes a special effort to greet everyone in the crowd personally before the group leaves.Ngugi's family lives in a small compound with a main house and some smaller mud and cement buildings on a hill overlooking Lake Nakuru . Behind the main house is a field where the family grows vegetables. Mwai begins each day with an hour or so work in the fields, cutting grasses with a machete to feed the livestock, or tending to the beans, corn, peppers and other crops they grow that are sold to make a little extra money. The family is middle class by Kenyan standards. Mwai's father is a retired bank accountant. He and his wife have raised six children, and all of them have had some education, which did not come free until 2003. Four generations of the family sit down together in the main room of their home, eating a simple meal of beans and bread. Mwai's father says Mwai and his siblings are good children: honest, no quarrels with others, and loving to the family.ABC's Jim Sciutto talks to Kenyan 21-year-old Mwai Ngugi.(Clark Bentson/ABC News)
More PhotosFamily is the first obligation for any Kenyan. Mwai knows that he must help provide for his parents and take care of them in later years. Kenyans, he states, are not like Americans, who put their older parents in homes. He will take care of his parents, and when they die, they will be buried behind his house just as his grandparents are buried in his father's garden now.
PO BOX 17382 20100
Kipchoge Keino Avenue
Nakuru Players Theatre behind Bontana Hotel
Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.