Reformed drug dealers and thieves reforest Kenya and restore their lives

Murithi Ntaru was once part of the booming log trade in his native Kenya.

But when mass deforestation led the government to ban most forestry activities in 2010, Ntaru and many others turned to theft and dealing drugs to support themselves.

Now they’re protecting the land they once pillaged.

Ntaru, 34, is a member of the Muiru Youth Reform Group in the village of Weru, tasked with the duty of protecting trees in rural central Kenya from illegal loggers.

Using text messaging, the young adults report suspicious logging activity to village authorities. The messages have an assigned ring tone so receivers recognize the ping.

Ntaru’s group sells seedlings, making around $200 a day and splitting the earnings among its 10 members.

The River Naka nursery is one of several similar reforestation projects in the area.

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