Byron, actor and activist

"My name is Byron. I live in Gilgil, near Naivasha. I’ve lived here for the last 17 years. I run a youth arts group called Naivasha Green Grassroots Action, which was formed in 2009 following the post-election violence of 2007/8. We are still moving on and trying to make our community be what we want it to be.

We have a lot of youth, especially in Karagita, and they’re doing nothing. Some are poaching. Then they just hang around. We have a lot of flower workers who live there. They go to work at around 5am and come back at 7pm. Most of them just leave their kids like that.

Most youths don’t have opportunities for education. These youths need jobs. They need to be empowered and motivated; to know that life can be what you want it to be. The meat-eaters [rich] don’t care about the grass-eaters [poor], so why would we not strike if we get an opportunity to do so and [then they can] feel our struggles?

At the age of 14 I had to work in a flower farm. Every morning I would wake up and sometimes the bus would leave without me, so I’d jog to work. The men at the flower farms liked me; they were very supportive and helped me with heavy lifting. I used to be in the greenhouses. I remember that one day a lady was paying us money, but told me that I can’t be paid because it’s not my ID – it was my uncle’s. Everybody said: ‘You have to give that boy the money. If you don’t, you aren’t going to pay anybody.’ So I was paid my money. This is what I call humanity. Some of these little things have made me want to inspire lives – it’s what our community should be like.

I was working but had no single gain. I was wearing nothing – no gumboots [rubber boots]. I have a lot of friends who work at flower farms. There have been slight changes [over the past 11 years], but still the workers really suffer. My friend suffers from bad health. They used to be given milk; now they don’t even get that. Conditions vary at different companies."

Photo: © International Alert