While in high school, Samuel Kariuki, who is now the vicar in charge of Passenga Anglican Church parish in Nyandarua, was a constant thorn in the flesh of teachers.
He organised sexual and violence orgies for other students, planned successful strikes, peddled and consumed drugs, and was a champion in recruiting other students to his world of crime.
Not even being listed in the dreaded ‘Black Book’ of deviants, serving several suspensions from school and risking total expulsion from Matura Secondary School could force him onto the straight and narrow road.
At that time, Kariuki, now 33 and with the titled Reverend before his name — and one of the youngest reverends in Central Kenya today — could not do without stealing, even from his mother, relatives, and the public, including shoplifting and vandalism.
At home he stole anything he could lay his hands on, including maize and utensils , which he sold to finance his lifestyle.
“I come from a very poor background,” he says. “I watched my sisters suffer for lack of sanitary towels. It pained me to watch the trauma and ridicule they went through. My mother was then a nursery school teacher earning Sh1, 000 a month, which was too little to cater for the family, but she was a staunch Christian and prayed for me a lot.”
Looking all regal in his Anglican Church cassock, Rev Kariuki says it is this dark history and family experience that endeared him to the community, especially the youth, who are are his main evangelical target.
His life changed when a priest visited his school. The priest informed him that he had become famous for all the bad reasons, requested to have a session with him, and revealed to Kariuki that he was aware of the atrocities he planned to commit that night.
“I had stolen dozes of condoms from hospitals and dispensaries that I intended to put to use during a party that night. I had also borrowed a camera, which I planned to use to con the students during the party. The camera had no film but I wanted to ask them to pay me Sh50 per exposure beforehand,” he says.
He reformed his ways after a session with the priest and destroyed the condoms and drugs intended for the illicit party.
“My mentors after circumcision introduced me to the world of drugs, crime and immorality that made me believe that, that was how a real man should behave,” recalls Rev Kariuki.
The experience in the dark world taught him valuable lessons about life, and today he spends a lot of time with the youth and in learning institutions counselling and modelling them.
He is also the chairman of the board of his former school, Matura Secondary School, where he has initiated many development projects.
Besides donating sanitary towels given to him by friends and the congregation to pupils and students in Nyandarua County, he also reached out to the thriving boda boda community in the region.
Mr Henry Githenya, the Passenga Busara Boda Boda Operators Sacco chairman, says the evangelical outreaches of Rev Kariuki have not only reformed many wayward riders, but also taught them life and business skills.
“The crime and other misconduct associated with boda boda riders have drastically reduced. Now we start our days with a word of prayer. The sacco has started a car wash project and is now issuing soft loans to members,” says Mr Githenya.
To reduce the risk of defaulting and also earn its interest in advance, members pay 10 per cent of the amount to be loaned as a condition to aquire the loan, a model introduced by Rev Kariuki.
“I would not wish to see any girl go through the pains my sisters went through. I also do not want the youth and students to live the destructive lifestyle I lived at that age. I am lucky God’s intervention came in good time, and I thank my mother, who never gave up praying for me,” he says.