Ex-Gang Members Turned Plumbers

In 2015 I was invited by WaterAid to document their project in the port city of Bilwi, helping former gang members to reintegrate into society by becoming plumbers.

The city, one of the major ports in the Atlantic coast, suffer frequent power cuts and has limit access to water supplies including water. Its poor environment, overcrowded schools and limited opportunities for work contribute to many young people turning to drugs and life in a gang.

The kids we met told us of their years fighting with rival gangs, the drug using and the criminality in their lives. Eventually life gang had become all they had, and they found themselves in a difficult position, where felt excluded from society and had no idea how to get back into it.

While plumbing is not the first activity one may think of a former gang member to do, they were really happy to be given the chance to do a work for themselves, and to help their families and social tissue with it. The apparent disparity between the two activities didn’t seem to be a problem for it’s users, and indeed it scored high levels of satisfaction for both the plumbers and their clients.