It's taken me over a month to finally put down some words about my visit to TYSA. Gichuki does a lot for the community at large. His field and community center is a presence in a small town in rural Kenya (near Kitale). I had no doubts about the organization. It wasn't just serving the community, it was the community. People came by to use the fields at will, but TYSA requires these youths to stay in school in order to use the fields. Guchuki has held public events every month since I've visited in April. One was an annual Baraza, a meeting to share news and give thanks for the past year's good fortune. They also collected hundreds of stories from the local people as part of this event, that will soon appear online as part of the storytelling project.
Last week they held an event for Day of the African Child (June 16th). I wasn't there, but I can imagine the inspirational speeches were not unlike the ones I heard during my visit, paraphrased below (because my memory is poor).
It was the day before the girls' team was to travel to Nairobi to a soccer tournament.
"We do not just kick this ball around," Gichuki said. "We are TYSA. And we believe that kicking this thing has meaning. It it through sports that we learn discipline, and through friendly competition that we learn how to settle disputes peacefully. You have all lived through the post election violence, and you know that to be Kenyan we must all build peace together. Fair play and personal excellence is what we learn at the end of the day.
This is not a mere sport. Belonging to this team is about developing character and building your future. We discipline the body so that we can discipline the mind, through school. And education gives you opportunities, a future."
Mama Zipporah took over at this point. "Hello Girls!" she shouted. The girls responded softly. Unsatisfied, Zip again repeats her greeting until the team is fully shouting back.
"Girls! I am speaking directly to you. You have heard the saying, 'yes we can!' but now we must make it our own. Wasichana Tunaweza! Girls we can! Say it with me."
They smile and chant the slogan. Girls we Can. Wasichana Tunaweza.
Zip points to her shirt, emblazoned with the slogan.
"Always remember that. When you go to Nairobi, there will be some older boys. You must ignore them. They are not going to help you in your future. You don't need a boyfriend. If they speak to you, smile and walk away. I do not want to be hearing about any one of you coming back with family issues after this tournament. Your future is your own! We must stick together!"
It struck me that this is about much more than soccer, or sports. This is about building up strong willed women who can lead the nation. It's about reaching for that future together, as a team. It's kind of hard for me to explain what I am seeing, because there isn't anything like it in the USA that is similar. At least not so explicitly.
Yes, of course I love and endorse TYSA. I often find myself wishing I could do more to help them. The description of what they do sounds like so many other organizations, but the results seem to be extraordinary. I'll do my part to publicize their efforts. Maybe I could even get some of my friends who are school teachers to link their girls up with these girls, to be pen pals or text-message buddies. Imagine the possibility of having a larger team of girls determined to write their own future, together.
Oh, and by the way, the TYSA girls' team took 2nd or 3rd place in that tournament, beating Carolina for Kibera's team in the quarter finals.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.
Trans nzoia County,