Provide Job Skills to Kenyan Slum Youth

Jun 2, 2014

A quick hello from your friends in Shauri Yako

Our Scout Troop
Our Scout Troop

Dear friends and supporters,

We are writing with a quick check in to say hello, to provide you, our kind supporters with a quick update.  We are hoping you and your families are all well, where ever you may be across the world.

Here is Shauri Yako's slums, we have been focusing on trying to start a music training program for youth.  The young people we support have had little access to the arts. Most can't dream of ever owning a guitar or a drum kit, which is a real shame.  It been well documented that the arts provide a critical outlet for youth at risk, helping build their confidence and self-worth.  We know the arts can help steer youth away from the dangers of slum life. 

With the dual goal of bringing joy and providing employable skills, we have been working with young university students from an organization called Nourish in North Carolina, who have helped us to plan toward the start up of a music training program, including providing us with funding to acquire instruments and a couple of computers that we intend to use for weekly classes. In the long run, we aspire to be able to offer sound recording training. In the coming weeks, we'll be focusing program design and continuing to approach larger organizations to help us make our summer pilot project sustainable in the longer run.  Interested in learning more or have an idea to help us get started? Just hit reply to this email. We'd be thrilled to hear from you.

We also wanted to let you know that, with our recent disbursement of funds from Global Giving, we have made a purchase of training room equipment (3 tables and 8 Chairs), moving us closer to what we need for a fully functioning room (24 chairs).  Thanks to you all for helping us get set up to run our programs with adequate facilities.  It may seem like a small thing to be supporting the purchase of chairs, but for youth who are otherwise on the streets of these slums, having a table and chair so they may sit down and learn is important.

For interest, we're also sharing a picture of our Scouts troop, which has been supported by SYSC for many years.  These troop members have been organizing and running regular commmunity clean ups in response to the lessons we provide on environmental stewardship. 

Lastly, we just wanted to remind you that we're still fundraising for our microproject to raise funds for internet connectivity so that we can run an internet drop in centre to provide web training to youth.  With internet access in a computer lab, we could show youth how to use the internet to search and apply for jobs, for example.  If you are able to spare a little, we would be extremely grateful.

Thanks again for your kindness!


Wishing you all the best.

Joe Mwai

Mar 3, 2014

Jambo from your friends at SYSC in Kenya

Hello to our friends and supporters,
Here we are at the start of March. It is a lovely day in Nyeri town, sunny with a high of 28 degrees celcius. We hope that you have had a good new year thus far.

This is just a short report to let you know that we have continued to be busy making improvements to our youth drop-in and training centre, built last year through your support.  Our top priority has been wiring the facility with electricity, and expect that Kenya Power Company will install the power line transfer within the next couple of weeks.  

We've also been installing furniture and our newly serviced computers in the computer lab.  This means that we are almost ready to begin offering the youth we serve with computer training again.  Computer training is not a ready opportunity for the youth from this slum community, who often do not complete school and are busy day to day making ends meet.  However, we recognize that even basic computer proficiency can signficantly improve their employability.

We are also continuing to ramp up for the arrival of university student volunteers from North Carolina, U.S.A. in May.  These young women and men are coming to set up a music training program.  Youth here are so excited have access to the arts, and our board is thrilled because of all the documented benefits that access to the arts brings, including increased sense of self-worth and a creative outlet to keep youth away from the negative trappings of streetlife (drugs, prostitution). 

We are also installing a fence around the compound to reduce our vunerability to theft and planting trees and flowers to help with erosion before the rain starts.

Lastly, we're pleased to welcome new volunteers through the UN's Online Volunteers network to our team. Edel from Kenya and Zenith from Singapore are helping us to develop grant applications and seek organizational funders for our job skills training programs.  If any of you ever wish to volunteer with or visit SYSC, we would be thrilled - hit reply and send us a note anytime!

With ongoing thanks for your support and interest in helping our youth to help themselves change their lives for the better,



Joe Mwai

Chair of the Board


Dec 3, 2013

Microsoft will match your donation for youth today

Community kids outside their homes
Community kids outside their homes

Happy Holidays friends!

Guess what? SYSC has joined teams with Global Giving and Microsoft. We are lucky enough to be a part of their Youth Spark campaign. Today is Giving Tuesday and Microsoft is matching any donations we receive to support slum youth development beginning at noon, up to $1000 a donation (until the $250,000 in matching funds runs out). 

If you are able to help SYSC this holiday season, today is the day to do it - you'll DOUBLE your impact.

It's been a big year for SYSC, thanks to you. We raised enough funds to tear down our old iron sheeting facility and rebuilt a solid facility and two-stall public toilet in stone and lumber.  This means we have a permanent home for our programs and can avoid spending essential program funds on rent, our equipment is safe from theft, youth have a safe refuge from the street and the community has a new meeting space. Best of all, we all have new hope for the future. Because we are a part of Global Giving, we were able to build a partnership with The Project Solution and have just found out university students from the University of North Carolina will be coming this summer to teach music and computer lessons, through the youth-run organization Nourish.

We're excited for a new year and focused on fundraising for tailoring and welding job skills training. This will give youth skills in a high demand sector. According to Business Daily Africa, there is a massive shortage of technical skills like plumbing, mechanics, tailoring and welding, in the Kenyan economy because universities have been taking over middle-level colleges that used to train workers. 

We know we can make a real difference in the lives of slum youth with your help. Here's a testimonial from Kenneth, pictured below with his wife and family:

"I am a volunteer for SYSC. I was born and raised by a single mother here in Shauri Yako slums 33 years ago, where I continue to live with my wife and three children. None of us live here because we want to. Life is a daily struggle. The government consider the community of Shauri Yako an ‘informal settlement’, which renders slums residents ‘invisible’ to the authorities and the town administration. SYSC is only organization that helps our youth to escape slums life and become independent. Our hopes and dreams depend on SYSC's success."

Thank you for your support. We've said it before, but it continues to touch us that strangers who do not know us are generous enough to support our cause.

To close, we'd like to wish you and your families' the happiest of holidays and share with you an old Swahili proverb: kutoa ni moyo usambe ni utajiri, which means 'giving is from the heart not from wealth'.
Kenneth and his family
Kenneth and his family
Nov 18, 2013

Progress on improving slum youth's lives

Scouts troop meeting in our new centre
Scouts troop meeting in our new centre

Hello friends,

It's time for another update on our work to improve the lives of slum youth here in Nyeri town, Kenya.

We're really happy to let you know that since we last wrote we have completed a two-stall toilet just outside the facility where offer we offer our youth drop-in and programming centre. For the first time, youth - most of whom are accustomed to sharing one pit latrine with 30 others - have access to a hygenic, modern toilet when they use our centre. This is an extremely exciting improvement for everyone, and we are so thankful to our Global Giving supporters for making this dream a reality.

The past three months have been active for us in the areas of fundraising and planning. We have submitted several new grant applications, thanks to the hard work of our new on-line volunteers.  We have been researching the feasibility of growing bamboo along the nearby Chania river as a means of sustainable income development for local women. And our local Scouts troop has been brainstorming on ways to help the community and themselves. They are now exploring opportunities to train in first aid and emergency preparedness, with the goal of eventually being able to train others.

We've heard from our supporters that they like to hear from those we help.  Here's another story from one of our beneficiaries.  Is there anything you'd like to know about SYSC? Respond to this email and let us know.

"I have been involved with SYSC since I was 12 years. I am from a family of 8 children and a single mother. When our father left and my mother later lost her job, we did not have a home and my mom turned to Mama Mugo (SYSC’s founder) for help.  I lived at SYSC when it was Mama Mugo’s Childrens Home.  SYSC gave me a place to live and sponsored my education through secondary school.  Afterward, through a SYSC donor, I attended a hospitality college, where I trained as a cook. Now I work for the Kenyan Red Cross as a cook. I am self reliant and able to help my mom and two younger sisters. I volunteer at SYSC once in a while, when I can.  I want to give back because I owe what I am today to SYSC.  I would like to see SYSC grow to be a bigger organization that can reach out to more youth and children because what they do is very important." - Nicholas Mureithi -

In conclusion, THANK YOU for your kindness and generousity. You are making a direct difference to youth who are isolated and receive no programming support from the Kenyan or local government.

With gratitude and appreciation,

Joe Mwai

Chair of the Board

Single mother
Single mother's support group meeting
Our new toilet
Our new toilet
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


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Project Leader

Sarah Van Exan

Toronto, Ontario Canada

Where is this project located?

Map of Provide Job Skills to Kenyan Slum Youth