Life was good for Thaddeus Maseno Nyanchama until he tasted alcohol in high school. Over the years, Maseno became a habitual drinker and an addict. Depression and hopelessness set in.
Maseno, now 40 years old, was in Form Three when he tasted alcohol for the first time. It was a decision that would haunt him in every aspect of his life, costing him jobs and even breaking up his marriage.
"It all started like a joke. We would ... sneak out of school once in a while to consume alcohol," says the former Musingu High School student, who later graduated with a Human Resource Management degree from the University of Nairobi (UoN) in 2007.
Born in Nyamira County and brought up in a disciplined family, Mr Maseno had a fairly good and caring life during his formative years. But he blew it all up because of the bad choices he made under the influence of his peers in high school and college.
He started his education at a local primary school before his parents transferred him to Mumias Boys Primary School.
"I did well in my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and proceeded to Musingu High School," he recalls. It was during his time at secondary school that he lost his mother. When he went back to school, he fell into bad company and started drinking alcohol.
Like the biblical prodigal son, Maseno indulged in careless and profligate drinking while at school. This affected his performance, but not to the extent that he failed to achieve the grade required to enter university.
"After the death of my mother and later subsequent joining of university, I found unlimited freedom that gave me more impetus to engage in extremely self-destructive activities of drinking and engaging in things that when I reflect back, I feel ashamed of what drove me to indulge in those activities," Maseno laments.
"I became an addict … and it affected my education. I began scoring poor grades yet I was an A student.”
After university, Mr Maseno slipped further into severe alcoholism and there seemed to be no chance of redeeming himself. "I returned to Nyamira and began taking chang'aa in the villages," he says.
In 2010, Mr Maseno secured a job with a non-governmental organisation (NGO), but was fired for absenteeism after bouts of drinking.
"I later joined the Postal Corporation [of Kenya] and in due course got married, but my marriage did not last long because I troubled my estranged wife with alcoholism and dishonesty," he said.
The breakdown of his marriage marked a low point of his life. He was sacked from the Post Office as a result of his alcoholism.
"After the loss of my marriage, I slid into depression and almost died," Mr Maseno says.
As fate would have it, his father invested heavily in his rehabilitation and Mr Maseno began rebuilding his life.
"I later secured employment with the Nyamira County Government and I have been trying to reconstruct my life."
"I thank God my family stood with me and took me to the rehabilitation centre in ATC Karen in February 2021, where I got treatment for three months."
After rehabilitation, he returned to work "and I have been a beacon of hope for recovering addicts".
"I have lived a positive life, full of hope. I talk to many youth who are facing challenges and I am in the process of coming up with a programme to help other alcoholics," he added.
Maseno, now a senior official in the Nyamira County government, says the only regret in his life is the first sip alcohol he took.
“I thank God I am now in a serious relationship. I resumed work and was even promoted recently,” he added.