Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre (SYSC)

Vision: To empower disadvantaged and marginalized slum youth, women and at-risk families in a sustainable way. Mission: To improve the quality of life for people living in extreme poverty in Nyeri district, Kenya's biggest slum, through social and economic development programs and community services, with a special focus on children, youth and poor women.
Aug 21, 2013

A new centre and a new beginning for slum youth

Our new stone and mortar centre
Our new stone and mortar centre

Dear friends,

We are so pleased to let you know that our new centre is complete and back in use! We now have a safe and permanent place for youth to escape the streets.  This new building will be able to withstand the threat of erosion that faces so many of the buildings erected in these hillside slums.  The community and youth we serve are really excited about this new beginning and we are so grateful for your help.

We are now fundraising $1200 USD to meet a new local government requirement to install a 2-stall public toilet for the centre's users. This will offer a hygenic facility to people who are accustomed to sharing a pit latrine with up to 30 others. Please click here if you are able to help us out with a small donation toward this goal:

Right now, we are also focused on fundraising so we can offer more job skills training. Most youth here do not get the opportunity to finish school due to the cost and the obligations to contribute to their family's income. Job skills training in the high-demand sectors of tailoring and welding helps slum youth build a successful livelihood.

Fundraising is hard for us as a small grassroots organization, so we are thrilled to have the help of some new 'online' volunteers who are helping us with different parts of fundraising, like research and writing. It is amazing for us to think that there are people in South Korea, France and Australia who are giving their time to help us out, just as it touches us to think about you giving generously to at-risk youth whom you do not know.

We recently checked back in with some of the youth we've served in the past to record their stories and thought we'd share one with you:

I am 20 years old, the eldest in a family of 7 and a resident of Shauri Yako - Witemere slums in Nyeri town.  I went to school up to class 6 and then dropped out due hunger and poverty. In my family finding food was a priority, which left little or no time for education. It was very difficult for my mom to put food on the table, so I started working at a very early age to try and help by doing all kinds of odd jobs, including house help. A course instructor who knew my family introduced me to SYSC.  In 2010, at the age of 17, I took part in a free six month tailoring skills training program at SYSC. Afterward I volunteered as an assistant instructor at SYSC while looking for a job. In 2011, I took a micro-credit loan and started a dress and curtain-making business in my rented room here in the Shauri Yako slums. Today I am earning enough to pay rent, support my mom and 6 siblings, and I am also training them in tailoring. Discovering SYSC changed my life – see where I am now!  - Jane Kamau

Lastly, we'd like to ask you if you have any questions about the Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre, the slums where we work or the youth we serve? Please hit reply to this email - we'd be happy to hear from you with questions or ideas. 

Thanks again for your support.

Joe Mwai

Chair of the Board


May 29, 2013

Improving Nyeri town's slums and providing hope to youth block by block

Wall construction in progress
Wall construction in progress

To our generous supporters,

We are so happy to tell you that we are nearing completion of the rebuilding of the Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre.  Our centre is a very important place for youth from the three slum communities we serve, providing them with refuge from the street, access to health and social support, counseling, job skills and leadership training, etc. 

You may know that our old centre was built of semi-permanent iron sheeting and timber and had become totally unstable due to erosion.  By late 2012, we had hit the point where had to find a way to raise the funds to rebuild, or cease our operations.  Shutting down and giving up was not an option - youth here deserve a chance for a better future and we are committed to trying to provide them with the tools they need to lift themselves from poverty.

Thanks to support from you, other friends and the Project Solution (, we now have a near-complete stone and mortor building, with walls and a roof to withstand the elements and our hillside location.  This new facility will also be able to house our job skills training equipment (like our sewing machines), securely so we can hold vocational programs here. In the past we've either had to use much needed funds to rent secure programming space or pay for night security to prevent theft.

There is a lot of excitement within the community about this new centre. People have told us they see the project as a sign of hope for a new start.  People are already asking us when we will have enough funds to start new job skills programs, or to hold community planning meeting, even though the rebuilding is not yet complete.

If you are able to make a small donation in support of our on-going work, we will use it to put glass in the window frames, attach our rain barrel to harvest free, clean water and complete other final touches.  In the meantime, we are actively seeking grants from bigger non-profit organizations, governments, etc. so we can begin more job skills training here.

Thank you again so very much.

Joe Mwai

Chair of the Board

Roof construction beginning
Roof construction beginning
Work progressing rapidly!
Work progressing rapidly!
Our new facility near completed
Our new facility near completed
Windows and doors to go!
Windows and doors to go!
Mar 4, 2013

Some news from your friends in Kenya's slums

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As you may know, we have been facing a serious problem here at the Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre. Our centre, where we run our drop-in centre and our economic and social support programs for slum youth, has become very unsafe due to erosion and semi-permanent iron and timber construction. In late November, we launched a "micro-project" through GlobalGiving seeking to raise funds to rebuild in stone and mortar so that we can continue to give youth tools for economic and social development. We are very grateful to let you know that we raised over $1,700 through the kindness of GlobalGiving donors!  And we are thrilled that The Project Solution, a U.S.-based charitable organization, has provided us with a grant that will allow the project to go ahead.   

We are excited to be preparing the site for construction this week!  New, strong walls will not only allow us to deliver our programs in safety, but will mean we can deliver our vocational skills training programs here without concern of equipment theft. We won't have to worry about paying wages for nighttime security, and can devote that much needed money to programming. Thank you to those who have helped make this happen.
We continue to see the benefits of the tailoring training you helped us provide in 2011 as we raise funds toward a second round of training. We recently checked in with trainee Elizabeth Wambui, who is now a small business owner. Says Elizabeth: "The opportunity for SYSC training was a blessing and has changed my life. After completing my tailoring course at SYSC, I secured a micro loan, bought 2 sewing machines and set up a tailoring business, making dresses and bed covers (amongst other things).  My business is doing well and I am now able to support my family of four."


Trainee Fraciah Maina reports that she is also now self-employed - as a dress maker in Gamerock town. Not only is she earning a living with the two sewing machines she has purchased, but she is now employing two assistants from the community.

In other news, the leader of SYSC's Scouts Program, Tirus Ndegwa, is soon to be taking 14 members of our Scouts group to the Scouts Founderee camp for a week. Tirus has been elected to lead programs in First Aids, Health, Safety, Sanitation and HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing. The event is expected to draw 10,000 Scouts, including SYSC's members, who will benefit from the team building, leadership and learning opportunities.

Finally, we are anxiously watching the outcome of Kenya's general election on March 4th. We have worked hard to educate youth on the importance of voting.  We are hopeful for quick resolution and a peaceful outcome.  And we will continue to encourage the government to pay attention to slum issues.


We thank you again for your support and interest in our work.  As we always say, we know there are a lot of ways you could give your money.  We want to assure you how great a difference you help us make as a tiny organization working in a place where the need is so great and people receive very little additional support.  If you are able to support us again, we wanted to let you know that on March 13th, Global Giving will be matching donations at 30% (up to $1000 per donor).


Joe Mwai

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