How loss of job awoke long-lost hobby in toys
Each day as the sun rises in Satellite estate in Nakuru town, Peter Njenga alias ‘Niko’ rises from his bed with hope, that the new day will bring with it good tidings, and he will make good sales from his toys business to feed his family.
In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, Njenga was rendered jobless. He had been working as a school bus driver and when learning was halted due to the pandemic, he lost the job.
“I have been a school and church bus driver for about 10 years. When the pandemic hit the country in mid-March, I lost my job and with it came a flood of emotions,” says Njenga.
“I was stressed and equally worried. Losing my job brought me to my humble point because my livelihood fully depended on it.”
Njenga had a difficult childhood. Hence the thought of not being able to accord his children a good and comfortable life, worried him.
Born in Timboroa, Njenga was raised in an orphanage in Eldoret by one Michael Nieswand of Jesus is Lord ministries.
He says: “My childhood was complicated but anyway, I grew up. I was enrolled at Timboroa Primary School, where I sat for my KCPE exams and thereafter worked at Nieswand’s garage, where I honed some skills as a mechanic.”
“Thereafter, I joined Bungoma Bible School for a certificate in theology and a diploma in Christian Life Teaching.
My intention to study the Bible was to know more about God. However, I did not get the call to become a pastor.”
Days after losing his job, Njenga toyed with the idea of what he could do to fend for his children.
The thought of making toys which was his childhood hobby came up.
“I am a single-parent of three—Letus (22), Keltie (17) and Yahshua (12). Their mother left 10 years ago. I am currently dating someone else,” he says.
“My children love me, despite the situation. I love spending time with them and I will strive to offer them the best care I can.”
“When I was young, I used to make simple plastic flowers and I thought to myself, why not make toys from plastic materials,” Njenga says of his toy making idea.
Little by little, he started implementing the idea and making toys, right from his home.
His neighbours were impressed with the kind of toys he made and he would make a sale or two.
He started getting referrals from parents who wanted to buy some toys for their children.
“I focus more on plastic vehicle toys which can suit children from around the ages of three.
The toys are made from recycled plastic, wood and small parts are made from metal,” he says.
The prices range between Sh1,500 and Sh5,000.
Making the toys from plastics is also an ingenious way to recycle plastics that would have otherwise ended up in rivers and garbage sites, thus polluting the environment.
He can make any model known, even Lamborghini for children with swag.
“I sell my toys to anyone willing to buy them. I mostly target the vehicle lovers and parents with children who love driving toys,” he says.
Since he started making the toys, Njenga says the biggest challenge he has faced is lack of adequate machinery such as drilling machine, grinder, welding machine, capital and space.
“I haven’t been able to fully cater for the needs of my family due to little production but if well-equipped, I believe I can be able to produce more,” he says.
Njenga also has a love for fine art hence from time to time, he also makes some drawings.
“Being creative is what I love. Anything that makes me utilise my hands is a plus,” he says.
According to him, he does not want to go back into employment even after the pandemic, but rather hopes to fully establish his toy company and employ people to work with him.
“My wake-up call for people who may have lost their jobs is first, accept the reality of what happened and embrace yourself and the situation you are in.
Listen to your inner voice that tells you the work you should do, put your heart and strength to it without shame and do it. With patience, you will succeed.”