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.
Sep 10, 2012

An Update on your Support for Kenyan Slum Youth

Shauri Yako Slums
Shauri Yako Slums

Dear Friends,

It is time for another project report for you, our Global Giving supporters who have signed up to receive updates.  While we are still continuing to fundraise toward a new round of vocational skills training and getting ready to launch our new website, we thought we'd take this chance to tell you a little more about the realities and challenges that face the youth we serve here in Nyeri town. 

As you may know or recall, SYSC is located at the edge of Nyeri town, in the heart of a large local slum that is amongst the largest in all of Kenya. The slum’s population is estimated to be 175,000, but nobody knows for sure. Youth make up the majority of the population and it is estimated that 90% of these youth live in abject poverty.

Our community lacks basic infrastructure such as electricity, water and sanitation. The average home size in Shauri Yako is 3 by 4 meters with an average of 5 people per house and 1 pit latrine for every 25 people. Food security is a big issue. Health services are minimal and the HIV/AIDS rate is high.  As you can see in the photos attached, residents of Shauri Yako depend on polluted water from the Chania River for drinking, laundry and all their needs. Youth here face so many challenges, including lack of education and training opportunities, high unemployment rates and economic and social marginalization.

In our recent youth development meeting, it was noted that one of the biggest challenges for job creation and self-employment in the Shauri Yako community is lack of electricity and water supply.  Youth try to launch businesses - like barbershops, video halls, cell phone charging - but the only source of electricity power in the slums is from generators, making it exorbitant for small income projects. SYSC has requested the county authority to consider bringing electricity in the slums, to help residents who are trying to improve their lives. 

We continue to depend on local efforts and the financial support of international donors such as yourselves to continue our regular advocacy on behalf of residents to the government and to deliver programs to give youth a chance to escape the binds of poverty.

With appreciation for your kindness,

Joe Mwai

Chair of the Board

Shauri Yako Slums
Shauri Yako Slums
Washing in the River
Washing in the River
Jun 11, 2012

Your investment in Keyan slum youth

Program equipment
Program equipment

A note to our kind supporters,

Since our last update, we have been working to raise funds toward a new phase of the project.  As a small community-based charity, we know this may take us some time. We are taking steps to improve our ability to compete with bigger charities for corporate grants and awards to supplement the generous support of our Global Giving donors, such as improving our website and recruiting volunteers. We have a waiting list of girls hoping to be a part of phase two, which we will launch as soon as we generate enough support to get started.

Over the past three months, we’ve made some changes to lower our program costs.  Rather than continue to rent program space and pay utilities, we have moved our equipment to our our main, owned center.  We’ve also hired a guard to address longstanding security concerns that have prevented us from running programs from our main space before.  While moving and security required us to incur new costs, we are now saving critical funds each month that can be devoted to program delivery.

We are staying connected with our 2011 phase 1 graduates, all of whom are now self-employed. Because a tailoring shop can be run from home and has low start-up costs, this is an appealing option. Five of the eight graduates have purchased their own sewing machines and are now running small businesses making bed covers, table clothes, school uniforms and dresses. The other three graduates have started a co-op making leather sandals.  SYSC is helping them in trying to secure funds through the Kenyan government’s new Youth Enterprise Funds program.

Reflection on life in Shauri Yako from Joe Mwai, SYSC Chair of the Board

A few reports back, I told you about how food security has always been a big issue in Kenya and is a major problem in our community. For the last six month, food prices have been sky-rocketing, affecting the urban poor who lack land on which to grow food the most. As the price of staples like maize, grains and sugar have climbed by ~25%, it has become difficult for families around SYSC to afford even one daily meal.

When I was growing up here, my brother and I left school for 2 years so that we could help mom put food on the table. We worked for a dairy farmer who paid us monthly in the form a 45 kg bag of maize flour. This didn’t seem so bad – food was our most critical need and the flour kept the family going, supplementing whatever else mom could get. When work was not available, we survived by raiding the local slaughter house waste bins, where we would get cow intestines, hoofs and anything else that looked edible.

It’s not news that that extreme poverty results from a lack of education, job training and employment. In our community, it has caused social ills like prostitution, disease, crime and human trafficking.  Sometimes during my work I see things that make me want to shut off my mind because I cannot solve all these problems.  But after 16 years of experience, I am certain that education and job skills empower people to reduce the problem – I, afterall, am evidence of this myself.

With our on-going thanks to all who contribute to our work. Asante sana!

Joe Mwai and the SYSC Board

Vocational Skills Trainer Shows Student Work
Vocational Skills Trainer Shows Student Work
Mar 13, 2012

Project Update 4: Ramping up to Phase 2

Dear Friends,

Our objective of providing vocational skills training to the at-risk youth of the community we serve continues to be a big priority for the Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre.  Our experience has shown big returns on investment when youth are empowered with skills that help them find jobs.  As they become self-reliant, they give back to the community, reducing poverty in a sustainable way.

We plan to continue to run this project in phases as funds are raised to support program costs like the salary of vocational skills trainers.  Through your support, Phase 1 provided 6 months of tailoring training, entrepreneurship counseling and HIV/AIDs awareness to 8 girls between July and December 2011.  Most graduates are now pursuing self-employment and are opening shops, often from their homes, selling local necessities such as dresses, bedcovers and school uniforms, as well as recycled material shopping bags.  We are assisting these graduates in finding access to micro-credit to help them get their business operations off the ground.

When enough funds are raised to kick off a second phase of the project, we plan to continue to with tailoring training targeting girls. Young women in our community are the most vulnerable and most are single mothers.  Empowering them also helps their children and families by extension.  Nine girls are now waiting to participate in phase 2 when sufficient funds ($5000) are raised to proceed.

While we continue to fundraise through Global Giving, we are also actively pursuing grants and awards that support small, grassroots sustainable development projects like ours so we can kick start the next phase of training.

We say many thanks go to all who have contributed to this project. Together we are making a difference.


Chairman: Joe Mwai

Secretary: Anthony M. Mucheru

Shauri Yako community Youth Support Centre

P.O. BOX 87, Nyeri Kenya

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