I had not have always yearned for a space that would  give me a chance to identify with leadership and governance aspects that are geared towards upholding right values. GIPro came in handy! As a young graduate, I was passionate about leadership and the opportunity to be part of the GIPro 2022 Cohort was an answered prayer. Growing up as a keen daughter of a public servant, I envisioned myself as a public servant one day in the near future. Therefore, serving now and being mentored as an intern in the public service is something I don’t take lightly.

Over the last 10 months, I have had the privilege of working with the National Authority for Campaigns Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), in a bid to support its vision of ensuring Kenya is a drug and alcohol free nation. In particular, I have been performing my duty as a counselor, and primarily engaged in telephone counseling and general information provision to clients in relation to drug and substance abuse.

Anytime I report to work, I remind myself of this phrase: One Call equals One Life! As I have learned from my experience of listening to stories of individuals battling with addiction, and seeking a way out, I highly believe that one call can save a life or change a hopeless situation. This is the significance of my work at NACADA. Anytime I am seated behind that computer conversing with a stranger, I ensure I offer empathy and excellence. This is because as a counselor, my role is to impact lives positively, and to do so with a human touch, without being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues. I strive to bring the best out of someone. By the time we are done with a conversation, my goal is to leave my clients better than I found them.

In terms of my career development, I  have witnessed tremendous growth, courtesy of the opportunity I have been given in NACADA. I have handled a variety of issues  in my line of duty which have sharpened my counseling skills. With the help of my supervisors and a great team of counselors  in the office, I can confidently say I am no ordinary counselor. A good work environment is something we all wish for and NACADA has fostered a high sense of belonging; I feel supported and this makes work easier

I am also a beneficiary of a learning programme that  NACADA offers known as, Basic Universal Treatment curriculum for addiction professionals. This course has ensured I have gained competencies and skills that comply with the national standards for treatment and rehabilitation of persons with substance use disorders. This is a valuable contribution to my future work beyond my internship at NACADA. Apart from being stationed at the helpline I have also had an opportunity to be part of an  awareness program conducted by my department in a school. This kind of community service is something I enjoy doing.

Outside work, GIPro has given me an opportunity for mentorship. I was attached to a mentor, Madam Sharon Watta, currently the Deputy Executive Director, Training and Research in the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO). Simply said, my experience with her has been as blissful as it has been impactful. Through her, my sense of calling and values have been strengthened. One defining lesson that I have learnt is that, at times, it is not about the immediate benefits such as monetary gain that matters but the long term effects that come from serving with integrity and diligence in whatever space I am in. This perspective has kept me going and has constantly reminded me of my “Why” for the service I render at NACADA. I am grateful for the times she has spared to ensure I am on the right track and the conversations we have had ranging from work to personal life experiences. I am always excited anytime I am set to meet her because it’s always an opportunity to learn.

Looking ahead,  I strongly believe that, in spite of the immense burden of drugs and substance abuse, and the related mental health challenge, Kenya has hope. This hope may be as simple as an Intern making life saving calls to Kenyans in distress. It is the audacity to believe that one day, Kenya will be full of values-driven leaders in every sector, and who care enough to make a contribution to the transformation of public services delivery. As I serve at NACADA, I believe I am part of this hope, and I want to be counted as one those who stand up to be counted. Nitahesabika!

  1. Emily June 27, 2023 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    Standing to be counted it is. Nice story of you Marlene. Keep at it.

  2. Hoseah June 30, 2023 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Good job Ato.

  3. N August 28, 2023 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I love this, keep doing your best!

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