#10Morans: He used to run from the law, now he runs peace programmes (and his own business)
"A few years ago, I could not show my face around my home area because of the crimes I’d committed. Today, I am a peace ambassador and business man, helping other young men caught up in crime transition into making an honest living." Lekopir Lksumban, Peace Ambassador, Melako Community Conservancy.
For over 12 years, Lekopir made a living from road banditry and cattle rustling. Caught up in relentless conflict cycles and desperate to put food on the table and pay medical bills, he saw no other way to earn money, and no way out.
"It was not a good life, and I was tired of always feeling like a target was on my back" he says. "I would always get messages from my friend saying the Conservancy Warden was looking for me and I hid because I thought he wanted to hand me over to the police." But Melako Community Conservancy Warden, Robert Dokhole, did not want to arrest Lekopir. He wanted to help him turn his life around. For two years Robert tried to convince Lekopir to meet with him, until eventually Lekopir agreed.
"I was very shocked when Robert sat me down in front of the elders and local authorities and told me that they wanted to give me a chance to redeem myself,” Lekopir says. “They asked me to work with them to help rehabilitate my fellow morans engaged in cattle rustling and banditry, and that if I did so, they would allow me to re-enter society."
Today, Lekopir is a proud peace ambassador and business owner - instrumental to peace and rehabilitation efforts in his home area of Laisamis. He has helped foil numerous cattle rustling attempts and helped several morans get out of conflict and into enterprise.
"I am able to get through to these young men because I have been exactly where they are." Lekopir says "Most of them are looking for a way out, just like I was, but have nobody to help."
Above all he feels he immense gratitude to his community for a second chance at life. "I will never forget what my community did for me, and I am just grateful to be making up for the years I lost."