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read the full story
Oliver Karani Kebaso
My name is Oliver Karani Kebaso and I am one of the member of Akili Bomba. I want to talk about my journey through alcoholism.
I started drinking in 2002 peer pressure being the reason. I also chewed miraa with my friends. I loved women and partying. I would drink on a daily basis. It was fun.
In 2008 the drinking became worse. I was promised by my auntie that I would go to America but it never happened. That caused me depression. At the time I was also married. There pressures home like unemployment and fighting with my wife. I would drink and run away from home. There was one year I remember that I left the house on December 23 and came back on January 7, meaning Christmas e’n new year found me drinking with friends other than spending time with my family. Everyday I would wake up at 6:00 in the morning and go to the bar and spend the whole day there.
The drinking would make me feel sick physically. The drinking would also affect my reasoning. I made poor financial decisions and the business I started failed. My marriage also ended in 2009.
My self-esteem was very low. I was also suicidal because I was thinking that I was a failure in life. I would drink as much as possible in hopes that I would die. As well, I would drive drunk and go as fast as possible hoping I would crash. Luckily, my attempts failed.
In 2016, I became sick. I went to Nakuru to stay with my parents. The first night I was there, my mom prayed with me. She told me to summon myself for a meeting and ask myself why I was drinking and if I was living a life of purpose and if I was at peace with God.
The next day I was admitted to the hospital. There I was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. The doctors said I was lucky to get there in time. I stayed at the hospital for two weeks and saw patients around die. It made me reflect on my mother’s words.
When I got out of the hospital, I went home and I reflected on what I had to do next in my life. The first thing I did was delete nearly 1000 contacts on my phone. I needed to stop associating with people who were bad influences and causing me to drink. In the end I only had 34 friends left on my phone. I stopped going to the places where I would normally drink.
I spent three years reflecting on my life. I also went to church during this time. In 2019, I decided to get baptized.
In 2020, I was approached by Felix Kokonya in Jamhuri. He was one of my former drinking buddies and had become sober himself. He told me that he had an idea to start a group for mental health in Kibera. We had our first meeting with several other people experiencing mental health issues or who wanted to help. We came up with Akili Bomba after along search of our real name that accommodates what we do so we settled on akili bomba.
Akili Bomba is a mental health group that is tackling issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, youth crime and gender based violence. We have activities such as group therapy, mental health awareness campaigns on the radio pamoja fm in Kibra and attend mental health workshops. We also have a group called Walakolo made up of homeless people. They were sleeping at garbage sites and we helped them organize to make an income through salvaging items from the landfill and selling them.
I have seen a positive response in the mental health of people who we have served. Many of them have been able to overcome addiction and suicide. They are alive and are able to lead happier lives. Some of them sadly have died. My hope for the future is that Kibera will become a community that is sober, self-reliant and healthier.