Driven by the desire tocontribute in building a society of responsible young men and women leaders of the day ACIP seeks to empower young people with practical life skills that they need to make the transition from childhood to adulthood without falling victims to challenges inherent in this transition period. Since its foundation in 2004, the programme targets adolescents aged 10-15 through the following activities:
1. School Visitations – This involves visiting both primary and secondary schools to give talks on the beauty and challenge of adolescence.
2. ACIP Education Foundation – This contributes fees to needy students, especially those labelled ‘not bright’ identified in the visitation programmes. ACIP founder members find that there are many individuals and organizations/initiatives like “Wings to Fly’ of Equity Bank which target needy ‘bright’ students. ACIP questions the labelling of children as ‘bright/not bright’ and believes that, when provided with the necessary support, every child has potential to become a successful responsible adult.
3. Youth motivational and mentorship programme – This involves mentoring young people within the local communities in Kenya as well as advocacy for young people as occasions emerge.
4. The Annual African Christian Initiation Programme – This is the core activity of ACIP. Every December, ACIP brings together between 30 and 50 adolescent girls and boys together for two weeks to provide them with knowledge and skills for holistic development. Rituals to physically mark their transition to adulthood are part of this annual event. These include the facilitation of the African custom of male circumcision. However, there is no similar physical rite of initiation with women. To fill this void, ACIP provides an alternative symbolic female initiation ceremony that meets this function of a rite of passage without the practice of any physical form of female circumcision. The alternative rite involves a night vigil marked by a ‘crossing over’ at midnight from childhood to adulthood. After crossing over, each individual is given a copy of the ACIP Jewels (referred to as a Teenage Survival Kit) which serves a twofold function:
i) provide a tangible affirmation that an individual has ‘crossed over’ from childhood to adulthood, and,
ii) provide a summary of ACIP training embodied in the motto ‘Choose Life’. This motto emphasizes freedom of choice even as it affirms that responsible adulthood involves choosing life. During this night, lessons on responsible African Christian womanhood are offered.
For boys, ACIP facilitates male circumcision, which is carried out by expert biomedical practitioners from the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret – a teaching facility for the Moi University College of Health Sciences. Parents provide Informed Consent in written form when they present the boys to ACIP. After the surgery, ACIP provides each individual with the ACIP Jewel and boarding facilities for them to recuperate together for two weeks with a qualified doctor coming daily (and is on call) to provide follow up health care. During this time, responsible young male adults comprising of Moi University students and/or ACIP alumni live with the initiates to take care of their nutrition and hygiene and to mentor them in terms of character. Throughout this time, their parents and older siblings are encouraged to visit. Meanwhile, other adults that ACIP consider responsible with regard to African and Christian virtues are invited to talk to the boys on responsible manhood.
After the two weeks, we hold a one day workshop for parents on responsible parenting. It is after the parent’s workshop that girls register for ACIP and during that night the girls have the alternative rite described above. The following day, the boys and girls come together for a one week’s training through the 13-module training documented in My Life Starting Now. Each day starts with worship. Bible study, prayer and worship modules punctuate the entire event with time set aside for individual participants to reflect on their relationship with God, with the self, with others and with the environment. A copy of My Life Starting Now, The ACIP Jewels, and a sample of the ACIP Annual Schedule are attached as appendices to Supporting Documents.