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Andrew Wafula

“My name is Andrew Wafula and I come from Nairobi, born and bred in the South C Estate.  I am one of the members of Akili Bomba, which is a community based organization in Kibera.

 My designation in the organization is that I am a patron.  The organization deals with mental health.  Our goal is to promote advocacy and awareness of problems such as GBV, drug abd substance use, depression, alcoholism, suicide, stress management and stigma.

 The mental health issues I have dealt with are depression, anxiety and feelings of loss.  All this was due to a relationship I was in some time back in which I had a kid.  Once the relationship ended, the lady left with the kid, which left me with a sense of emptiness.  In order to bring about a sense relief, I turned to porn which I became addicted to.

 I was able to get into another relationship that led to marriage.  Through my current wife, I was able to talk about my porn addiction and found solutions to my problem.  Some strategies I used was listening to my wife talk about her life, her stories and good times she had as a child. This would keep me in engaged and would act as a transmuting energy so that I would not be thinking about the pornography.  Since my recovery, I have been able to talk to others who are going through the pain of loneliness and loss as well.

I joined Akili Bomba in April of 2021 and found other people experiencing mental illness who had gone through situations even worse than mine.  As a group, we have been able to bring about change in the community by letting people know that we are capable of sobriety and serenity and bringing about solutions to mental health issues.  The ways in which we do this is through collective therapy whereby we counsel people in groups and exchanging stories.  By doing that, members are able to heal as they hear that we too were able to come out of the same situations.

 One of our yardsticks and icons is Felix Kokonya who was once addicted to drugs and alcohol, was experiencing depression and was involved in criminal activities.  He is well known in the community of Kibera for his struggles.  His change and transformation has brought about an urge in the rest of the community to change together with him.  They were witnesses to how low he had sunk and now have seen how high he has bounced back.

 Mental health stigma effects people here in Kenya in that they feel that the people around them don’t understand them and are judging them.  Such feelings bring about isolation, withdrawal and finding ways of coping like alcohol, substance use, risky sex and crime.  They don’t get the help they need. Our organization strives to combat stigma by talking to people and telling them that such problems are normal, they are real and they can happen to anyone.  These people are not alone.  We help people by telling them that they are no less important just because they are suffering from a mental health issue.”