As promised, this week I deliver a second interview with a trailblazer in Kenya. The year is about to wrap up and we need that last needed nudge to get us through to the finish line and realize those ambitious dreams we set for ourselves, right? So going forward this December, I will share not one, but TWO interviews a week; every Tuesday and every Friday! J
I am pretty excited about it so let's get right into it, shall we?
My next interviewee is very passionate about children’s matters and advocates for the improvement of services offered to children in the Juvenile Justice System. In 2016, she implemented the first plea bargaining at the Milimani Children’s Courts as an alternative to trial in some cases. Her efforts earned her a nomination to the International Visitor Leadership Programme in America— a platform which allows upcoming leaders to interact with American counterparts in their field of expertise.
In her free time, she runs a book club campaign called #OperationJazaShelf . Her and I spoke about this and her passion about the project completely shines through! She hopes to get the community interested in what happens in borstal institutions and remand homes. The institutions are meant to rehabilitate children who have been on the wrong side of the law but she says she was heartbroken to discover that the school had a library with no single book in it!!! And that is how the project came to be. (I absolutely love her passion about this!)
Meet Caroline Mtai, Senior Prosecution Counsel at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
C: What do you consider as your greatest achievement to date?
CM: Aside from being a proud mother of one wonderful and intelligent teenage daughter, my greatest achievement was discovering my purpose in life. I always enjoyed my career as a lawyer but my life changed when I joined the Children, Victim’s and Witness Support Division of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in 2014. It is then that I discovered exactly what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing and my work began having a positive impact. Making it to the Top 40 list is a humbling recognition of my efforts and my biggest motivation yet to keep pushing on. I still have a long way to go but I am encouraged by the positive feedback which means I am on the right track!
C: What has your career path been like as you have navigated through your chosen field leading up to your current role/position?
CM: I signed the Roll of Advocates in 2009 but did not immediately practice law as I opted to take time off to support my best friend and life partner who had been diagnosed with kidney failure and was planning a kidney transplant. After a failed kidney transplant late in 2010 I travelled back home from India where the transplant took place, and took up an opportunity at the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice where I started work early 2011. There I worked as a Litigation Counsel in the very busy Civil Litigation Department and was later moved to the Land and Environment Division.
In 2014, I made the move to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and was deployed to the Children’s Victims and Witness Support Division as a Senior Prosecutions Counsel where I serve as a Prosecutor at the Children’s Court. I am an active member of the Milimani Children’s Court Users Committee, always eager to find innovative ways to improve the services we offer to children in the Justice System. I took an active role in the implementation of plea bargaining in the Children’s Court to help shorten the period spent by children in the justice system. It is also a means of incorporating restorative justice and promoting reconciliation to encourage more peaceful problem solving mechanisms even as the perpetrator takes responsibility for their crime.
|Carol and her husband|
C: What advice would you offer to young people on figuring out the balance between work, family life and social life?
CM: My advice is the same for both young men and women. I have learnt over time that family and friends are our biggest back- up and support system. It is always possible to have enough time for your work and still have a social life or time for family. Time management and planning is key.
|Carol and her beautiful daughter|
C: What is your greatest piece of advice to the young upwardly mobile individual?
CM: Go for it!! Do not be afraid of criticism. Test your ideas and keep improving on them. Learn from those before you but do not be afraid to challenge them and improve on the standards set. Most importantly, find something you love doing and do it with all your heart, speak from your heart and pursue your passion with all you’ve got.
C: What is the greatest lesson/ nugget that you have picked up in life?
CM: It is never too early or too late to pursue your dreams; just be consistent, persistent, patient and resilient. The challenge will not get easier, criticism will be overwhelming but never lose sight of your ultimate goal. Surround yourself with people who exude positive energy, people who support, encourage and nudge you to be more than what you hoped to be. I also strongly believe in the power of prayer and have navigated through my worst of days in prayer.
‘’When you intersect a lot of curiosity, passion and drive, you can come up with something truly incredible. Maybe some people define that as genius.’’ Austin Russell
See you bright and early on Tuesday for another riveting story… from a lady who honestly personifies boldness and passion. She is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and holds a Bachelor of Law degree from Makerere University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Law, a Master’s in Public Policy and Management and Certification in the International Module on Global Leadership from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
I know, Wow!!! See you then :)