It is mid-day when I walk into Hi-Tech Furniture Workshop, in Nyandarua county. Instantly, the scent of wood envelops me, intermingling with the subtle smell of sawdust suspended in the air. I swiftly strike up a conversation with William Kagutha, a promising young apprentice carpenter, under the Ajira Poa! project. I am eager to capture and share his story, shedding light on his experiences, aspirations, and the impact of the project on his life.
Measure twice, cut once
As we exchange pleasantries, he shares with me the carpenter’s timeless mantra of “measure twice, cut once,” signifying the meticulous approach to ensure accuracy in their craft. Though he endeavours to explain his interpretation of the principle further, I find myself struggling to grasp its intricacies. Sensing my confusion, he gracefully abandons the explanation, redirecting his energy towards showcasing his exceptional workmanship and extending a persuasive invitation for me to consider acquiring one of his pieces.
With pride, he highlights an eye-catching chapati board stool, adorned with an array of captivating colours. Its finials are exquisitely honed, leaving me in awe as I contemplate the fact that a mere three months ago William embarked on his carpentry journey with no prior knowledge or experience in the craft.
Determination amidst many obstacles
At 32 years old, he has faced numerous obstacles on his path to success. After completing high school in 2010, he found himself without the financial means to pursue higher education.Seeking alternative avenues for growth, William attempted to apprentice as an electrician, but he did not succeed. His subsequent attempt to establish a business selling small wares unfortunately didn’t yield the desired results, leading to its closure.
With a determined spirit, he relocated to Eldoret town, where he ventured into door-to-door clothing sales. Just as he began to establish a foothold in this new endeavour, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, disrupting businesses worldwide. Faced with mounting challenges, he made the difficult decision to return to his parents’ home, hoping for a fresh start amidst the trying circumstances.
It was during this critical juncture that his path intersected with the Ajira Poa! Project. He eagerly shared his passion for carpentry and expressed his desire to learn and grow. In January 2023, William embarked on a transformative journey with Ajira Poa!
Ever since high school, I’ve been drawn to building things using wood, so this was an opportunity for me to pursue my passionWilliam Kagutha
Essential life skills & Mentorship
The project has equipped him with essential life skills, empowering him to navigate personal and professional challenges with confidence. Additionally, the financial literacy training he received has proven instrumental in making informed decisions and managing his finances effectively.
Perhaps the most impactful aspect of William’s journey with Ajira Poa! was the mentorship he received. He says the guidance of experienced professionals and mentors provided invaluable support as he pursued his passion for carpentry. Under their wings, William is honing his skills and on the path toward becoming a skilled artisan.
As one of the beneficiaries of the Danida funded apprenticeship program, he immersed himself in the world of carpentry, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Crafting shoe racks, desks, seats, and beds is more than a vocation—it is now a source of fulfilment and pride.
Leaving high school can be challenging, especially when it comes to figuring out what to do next. For me, I jumped straight into selling small wares. However, I’m grateful to have found this opportunity to learn carpentry. I am now in my line of work and things I have always wanted to doWilliam Kagutha
With a newfound sense of purpose, William’s goals for the future have grown. Within the next two years, he aspires to establish his own workshop, turning his passion for carpentry into a thriving business.
In the next two years, my goal is to start my own workshop, and I pray to God that it will become a reality. I’m grateful to DCA for paying for the course, and I would appreciate any help they can provide to support me in starting my own businessWilliam Kagutha