The New Year has come and the Manyatta Youth Resource Center (MYRC) is working hard to make 2015 our most successful year to date. I arrived back in Kisumu mid-January to a warm welcome and also warm weather. Kisumu sits on the Equator and has been averaging temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius and above. Despite the heat and unforgiving sun, the MYRC presses on with its programs, organizing events for football and performing arts and creating opportunities for girls and boys to have fun and explore their talents in this lakeside city. Though the Kisumu Youth Football Association’s (KYFA) football league is on a three-month break, the MYRC football team, Manyatta United, is still busy organizing girls and boys friendlies, playing in tournaments and preparing for the coming season. The MYRC and Manyatta United were honored to welcome two guest players on a tour of East Africa, who travelled all the way from Lagos, Nigeria to come play with our adult team. These young players are the first international visitors for a soccer club in Kisumu and their visit inspired our team and organization. Nigeria is a country that Kenyans look to as one of the leading soccer nations in Africa. Our visitors did not disappoint as they showed off high levels of talent on the pitch and also demonstrated their talents with inspirational speeches and exemplary character off the pitch. The Manyatta United adult team recently took the Kisumu District League title and was promoted to the Provincial League level. Our Nigerian visitors came to play with this team and are considering joining us for the entire season. Our Provincial team is mostly made up of young players who started at the MYRC on an Under-14 aged team but have since grown to become young adults. The MYRC’s goal has always been to build players up and keep creating opportunities as they grow. So many teams in Kisumu are limited in the support they can provide and players are often abandoned when they reach eighteen. The MYRC hopes to continue providing for our players and hopefully one day create a Kenyan Premiere League team from players who have come up through our youth academy. We were so proud of our players when they took the Kisumu District title after only one season. This shows that our coaches and training are having an impact and that youth are getting opportunities for building their talent. In an additional honor, our head coach, Opiyo, was named Coach of the Decade by the KYFA management board for his impact on youth and football in Kisumu. We are so proud to be working with such a highly regarded and honored coach. Yet the MYRC still faces the huge responsibility of funding this new Provincial team. With your help we managed to complete the District season and also come out on top. The Provincial League presents us with a greater challenge, as the costs of completing this season will be even higher than the District season. Our players will have to travel further to away matches and our organization will have to pay higher fees for enrollment in the league. These costs are a major challenge and we need your support once again to see this team succeed. If our team finishes the season in the top two positions, we will then be promoted to the Kenya Nationwide soccer league. This is our goal, but we have to be able to fund this season first. As the MYRC soccer teams work hard, our performing artists are also busy moving forward and working hard to showcase their talents. Our performing artist Gabiro Da Hip-hop, who recently won the Kisumu Vybez award for best social awareness song, has been busy in the MYRC recording studio, Starbell Records, recording new music by day and performing at shows by night. Gabiro has gained quite a following in our area and he recently was the guest artist at Club Marina in Kisumu with the headlining artist being Nairobi hip-hop star Kristof. The venue was packed with students from Maseno University and Gabiro’s performance brought down the house. Gabiro is young and working hard. He hopes to produce his first music video this year with help from the Manyatta Youth Resource Center. You can help make his dream come true by supporting Equip Manyatta. The MYRC also helped sponsor a comedy event at the Kisumu Social Hall in January called Laughter Mania. Laughter Mania hopes to create a regular comedy show in Kisumu much like the popular Kenyan show Churchill Live. The show featured many comedians, dancers and musicians, including the MYRC’s own Gabiro Da Hip-Hop. The show was a big success for its first venture and we hope to work closely with Laughter Mania in the future to see Kisumu talent showcased at the highest level. A major challenge we face here in Kisumu is the formidable endeavor of keeping our youth in school. It is so sad to see kids not being able to learn because they can’t come up with enough money to pay school fees and buy the necessary school supplies such as uniforms, shoes and learning material. Kids are sometimes sent home for owing as little as $5; many face greater need of up to $200. The MYRC has made major accomplishments in supporting education, has found sponsorships for over thirty youth, and has had four students finish secondary school thanks to the support we found. As the MYRC deals with over 200 youth, the challenge to find help for those that most need it is daunting. We are asking for your support so that we can keep as many of our youth in school as possible.
Talent in sports and performing arts are enhanced when a young person has opportunities to get an education. We would appreciate any help you can offer so our youth members finish first primary school and then secondary school. One day we also hope to sponsor young women and men for their university education so they can become future leaders not only for MYRC, but also for Kisumu and Kenya. The cooperative experiences and education that you fund through Equip Manyatta provide a foundation for the lives of our young people and for Kenyan society as a whole.
The 2014 Vybez Awards once again saw the Manyatta Youth Resource Center's sponsored recording studio, Starbell Records, recognized for its achievements in music production in Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya. Our studio's lead producer, Malique, was awarded Best Producer of 2014 and a song produced at our studio won Best Social Awareness Song of 2014.
Starbell Records began in 2010 in a room made of mud and tin in the middle of the Manyatta slums. Dogged by unreliable electricity, with only a donated computer and a microphone, youth were able to begin recording their music for the first time and young producers were able to learn how to capture aspiring artists’ talent. The music production element was the first program within the Performing Arts section of the MYRC's sponsored projects. From there, the Performing Arts section has grown to include drama and dance as well as visual arts which include video production, digital photography, graphic art and handcrafts. Starbell Records built a more modern studio in the MYRC main office building in 2012 and this is where our Vybez Award winning artists and producers now work on their projects.
The MYRC soccer teams continue to play in the Kisumu Youth Football Association (KYFA) youth league as well as in the adult district league. The district league has offered our youth tough competition and this will surely make them stronger players in the years to come. Many of these players have played for MYRC teams since they were 14 years old. Now they are playing as young adults in a highly competitive league. Participating in this league is a huge undertaking for the MYRC mainly because the costs of travel for the games are so high. The MYRC wants to help nurture youth talent from a young age into adulthood and our district league team is the first step towards building professional players raised at the MYRC. Your support will help us move closer to achieving this goal.
The MYRC is committed to giving youth opportunities to explore their talents and is continuously growing to support the many interests of the youth living in our community. Still, one of the most important ways the MYRC can support its youth members is by finding them education sponsorship so they can finish both primary and secondary school. This is an extremely challenging situation because the need far exceeds the MYRC's capacity to find adequate support for the large number of our youth who are in jeopardy of dropping out of school because they can't afford to pay the fees required to attend school in Kenya. Young girls are most in danger of dropping out before they finish secondary school. Your support of just $200 can support one of these youth for the school year.
The year 2014 was challenging for many people across the globe, but through these challenges the MYRC has continued to move forward as best it can and produce positive results for youth living in Kisumu, Kenya. As the year comes to an end, the MYRC must plan ahead and make sure we will not let our youth down. The number one challenge for Equip Manyatta is making sure that we have enough funds to keep the MYRC projects running and our youth active. Your support has meant so much in the past and with your continued help the foundations being laid now will allow these young people to grow to wonderful heights.
Thank you so much for everything and we wish you a Happy New Year!
The Manyatta Youth Resource Center is charging into this year’s football season head-on. The MYRC’s soccer program, Manyatta United, has six different teams playing in the Kisumu Youth Football Association’s (KYFA) under-18 soccer league. Coaches and players, both girls and boys, spend each evening training and competing to be the best in Kisumu and also the entire country of Kenya.
The MYRC is proud to have several representatives from Manyatta United participate in this year’s Copa Coca-Cola National Finals. This is the second time our players have been honored in this way. Through KYFA, an under-15 soccer team was created to represent Kisumu in the Copa Coca-Cola Nationwide Tournament under the team-name Kisumu Lakers FC. KYFA chose Manyatta United’s head coach as the head coach for Kisumu’s team and eight players from Manyatta United’s team were selected for the final team. Kisumu is located on Lake Victoria in Western Kenya, thus the name Lakers.
Before leaving Kisumu to travel to Nairobi for the finals, Kisumu Lakers FC had a very difficult task to complete. They had to first beat-out all of the top teams from the entire Nyanza province. After many hard fought matches and solid competition, Kisumu Lakers FC successfully defended their Nyanza provincial final title after beating Aspire Youth 3-0 at Gusii Stadium. The two teams clashed under rainy conditions, but the experience of the Kisumu Lakers proved the difference as they earned themselves a return ticket to the nationals, which were to be played at City Stadium in Nairobi.
Unfortunately, the Kisumu Lakers suffered the same fate as the previous year, finishing second nationally after losing 1-0 in the final to Kitale Stars. Coming in second nationally is no small feat. The MYRC is immensely proud of the effort put forth by our players and our coaches. One of our goals at the MYRC is to help young soccer players reach their potential, by exposing them to top-level training and competitions. Traveling to Nairobi and playing such a high level match as under-15 year old players will shape their careers and help pave a way for some of these young players to play professionally within Kenya and abroad. We hope to create great players in Kenya, eventually helping the Kenyan national team to become more competitive. Meanwhile, the discipline and teamwork learned in the effort will serve all our participants well no matter what they go on to do in life.
In the Performing Arts section, all eyes are on the upcoming Vybez Awards in October. Voting has opened and artists are rallying their fans to send SMS votes in their favor to the Vybez Awards management team. The votes placed by fans are a key deciding factor in determining who will receive awards at this year’s ceremony and in what category artists are placed.
Keeping our participants in school is one of our central goals. Some of our youth’s families can cover school fees, some can contribute a part, but some do not have any of the funds needed to enroll. Girls are at particular risk of not receiving an education if a family must choose among children due to a shortage of funds. As of now we have found complete education sponsorship for over ten youth and partial sponsorship for more than 30 others. Expanding the list of sponsors willing to support a youth’s education is crucial. As our participants move from Primary to Secondary School fees increase adding an additional pressure. Please consider sponsoring a child’s education.
Our programs continue to move forward at the MYRC, but it cannot be overstated how much more needs to be done and how valuable your support is in seeing us continue to lift up the lives of our participants. Our programs involve over 200 youth and the needs are many. Help us continue to move forward with quality programs that positively impact the lives of these girls and boys in Kisumu, Kenya. Thank you!
Football season has returned to Kisumu, and the Manyatta Youth Resource Centre (MYRC) is sponsoring six Under-18 teams, both girls and boys, and a male adult semi-professional district level team. The MYRC makes it possible for close to 200 youth living in Kisumu, Kenya to grow through healthy competition organized in a safe environment and sanctioned by the Kisumu Youth Football Association (KYFA).
A huge step forward for the MYRC Sports department this season is fielding an adult men's team in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Kisumu Sub-County District League. This team is made up of young men who came up through our youth soccer program and who have grown beyond KYFA’s age eligibility. It is energizing to realize the MYRC has been operating this long—more than 4 years. Though our team, Manyatta United, lost their first game last weekend, we are confident that they will play competitively within this league and will grow tremendously with the opportunity to face professional competition. The MYRC still faces the problem of funding for this team though. The MYRC has only been able to raise one-quarter of the funds necessary to see our team complete the season. Most of these funds have already been spent on registering the team and getting the proper paperwork taken care of with the FKF. We need your help to raise funds for transportation to away matches, lunches, and equipment maintenance.
The MYRC Sports department was so proud of our MYRC girls under-14 footballers, when they won the under-15 division of the 2014 KYFA Ladies Nationwide Football tournament at the beginning of May. The MYRC team beat the Soccer Queens from Nairobi in the final match 2-1. They were awarded a small cash prize, uniforms, medals and a trophy!
The MYRC is happy to welcome a new intern from the Kenya Institute of Professional Counseling at our center. She has been sent with a focus on health and social issues and will be offering guidance and counseling to MYRC youth for the next two months. We hope that she can help us get a new program started that will be dedicated to helping our youth make healthy life choices.
The MYRC also welcomes new partnerships with the YMCA Kisumu and the Youth Network for Community Revitalization. Both programs will offer our youth opportunities to participate in their skills training programs. The YMCA Kisumu is well known for helping train youth so that they can work in the auto repair and metal works industries, which are among the largest sources of employment in Kisumu town. We hope that through these partnerships our youth will gain greater access to opportunities that will promote their talents and lift up their outlook on the future.
The MYRC Performing Arts department is eagerly awaiting the end of registration for the Kisumu Vybez Awards. All of Kisumu’s top performing artists compete to be nominated for an award and the chance to participate in the award’s show later this year. The MYRC produced the best music group, best female solo artist and song of the year at last year’s Vybez Awards. We anticipate that the MYRC will have many nominations again this year and we are confident that we will take away a few more trophies.
Time moves quickly at the MYRC and we are constantly under the pressure of chasing funds to keep programs operating. We must succeed or we will be forced to make cuts. We are determined not to have these young people miss out on opportunities they are only just beginning to have. The MYRC has become a center of positive activity in Kisumu and is making such a difference in young lives. Thanks for whatever help you can provide to keep the programs moving forward!
2014 has begun and the Manyatta Youth Resource Centre has high hopes that it will be the best year yet since we began in 2009. Keevan Labowitz, a Co-Founder of the MYRC, arrived back in Kisumu in December and has seen that our programs continue to grow both in size and success.
On Christmas Eve, the MYRC sponsored a bash to celebrate how far we have come and to bring all the members of our different programs together to share food, fun and stories. The day started with several friendly football matches at our home pitch. Our teams entertained the community, had fun, and showcased the high level of talent that the MYRC football club has been producing. The match that brought the most laughs though was when the MYRC management board played against the MYRC performing artists. Our chairman, general manager, secretary and management board members played against musicians, dancers and drama members. It was quite a scene. Afterwards, everybody returned to the MYRC office and ate goat, chicken, rice, vegetables and juice. On this day the MYRC fed close to 200 youth athletes, performing artists, management members, and local community members. It is get-togethers like this that bring our community closer and help unify our various programs and participants. We look forward to repeating it again.
A particularly important success this year was the graduation of our youth member, Joseph. Joseph is our first sponsored youth to complete secondary school, and we look forward to many more. The MYRC has sponsored Joseph since 2009 as he finished primary school and headed on to the next level. It is important to ensure that the MYRC’s sponsored youth get a continuous, consistent education from primary school through graduation. This is the best hope for the future for our youth and the community.
After completing secondary school, the MYRC assisted Joseph in creating a resume and job application letters. Joseph was hired as an assistant teacher at a primary school he had previously attended. Though the work is tough and the hours are long, Joseph believes that the experience he is gaining will help him move forward in his career. He is already getting offers to transfer to a nearby secondary school where he is likely to earn more. Joseph and the MYRC still have hopes that he will soon attend a university, but he needs more financial support than the MYRC is currently able to offer. We hope that as he works and gains experience more opportunities will open up for him.
As schools are opening here we are faced with the difficult task of getting our most vulnerable youth sponsored in both primary and secondary school. We hope to see many youth sponsored for education just as Joseph has been. While the MYRC is currently sponsoring over 15 youth in school, there still remain many MYRC youth who we are unable to provide for, and fees continue to climb. By giving just $200 you can help to ensure that one more young person gets a complete year of schooling at the primary level.
An exciting new opportunity for the MYRC is the hoped-for creation of a district level soccer team so our youth can continue in the sport. When the MYRC began in 2009 it started with a group of Under-14s and U-12 soccer players. Today many of the players who started with us in 2009, as well as many new faces, are now too old to play in the local league, which ends at U-18. Just as we hope to offer continuous support in education, the MYRC wants to build talent in soccer by staying with youth for extended periods of time to really nurture their talent to the highest levels. By creating a district team, the MYRC would compete against teams from throughout the county, thus giving our youth exposure to higher levels of competition and opportunity. This will make them stronger and better players. As time goes on, the MYRC has dreams of reaching the nationwide league and finally the Kenyan premier league. The district league will cost the MYRC close to $2000, which is a major challenge. With your help, the youth we have been nurturing for close to five years now, will have the chance to climb to new levels of competition and eventually become professional players in their home country and abroad.
With your support, in the last five years the MYRC has grown from nothing to a multi-faceted organization helping to build a future for a diverse group of youth. Don’t stop now! Help the MYRC continue to serve these young people on their journey to a better life. We wish you a happy 2014 as we look forward to the time ahead.
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