Kelvin Mwikya

Kelvin is a passionate advocate for the rights and wellbeing of prisoners in Kenya. An ex-prisoner himself, he has led the Philemon Foundation since 2002.

By meeting basic needs among prisoners, investing in their rehabilitation, supporting them upon release and calling for systemic change, Kelvin is bringing life and long-term change.

Location: Kenya

Sector: Criminal Justice

Year Selected: 2009

Motivated and informed by his experiences imprisoned in Kenya, Kelvin is working to support the needs of those still incarcerated and those just released, as well as advocate for complete transformation across the national prison system.

Kelvin is a passionate Christian and social entrepreneur who lives and works in Nairobi

Wrongful convictions, lengthy remand periods and over-sentencing are common place in Kenya. As a result, prisons are hugely over-crowded.

This together with a woeful lack of resources means living conditions are squalid and prisoner mortality is high. Rights are neglected, abuse and cruelty are too common and opportunities for rehabilitation and self-improvement are practically non-existent.

In addition, prisoners receive little support upon release. Many are rejected by families and communities, turn back to crime and find themselves back behind bars.

To bring transformation across Kenya's prison services, Kelvin started the Philemon Foundation in 2002.

To support prisoners to survive prison, Kelvin and his team distribute items including soap and food. They also work with authorities to introduce vocational training to help prisoners improve their prospects upon release.

For newly released prisoners, the Philemon Foundation runs Kenya's only halfway house. Here, former inmates live for six months whilst participating in an intensive program to prepare them for a new life. So far, more than 150 released prisoners have reintegrated into society as a result.

To achieve systemic change, Kelvin advocates for reform and works with those in power. His success has won him the respect of government, churches and others, helping him move further towards his dream of seeing total transformation across Kenya’s prison system.

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