Hello to our friends around the world,
We writing to tell you about how, through your help, Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre (SYSC) is continuing to provide vocational education and skills training to at risk youth.
We have been focusing on youth training in computer operations, word processing, internet and email. There are currently 21 youth receiving training two days a week. This gives them a chance to compete for a wide range of jobs that nowadays require basic computer skills, such as supermarket cashier. They are also able to use the internet when here to search information and access social media, something kids all around the world do, but these slum youth would otherwise have no access to.
As well, in October 2014, we launched a very popular music classes, with lessons in keyboards, guitar and vocals. The music program has 55 student participants, who have access to a range of instruments and equipment newly donated by the Nourish student foundation at the University of North Carolina. We are thrilled to have two volunteer keyboard teachers, offering lessons for twelve hours over the weekends, as well as a volunteer keyboard teacher. SYSC also offers music trainees with free internet access.
The music program is having a big impact on the youth participants, teaching them not just a useful, employable skills, but also offering a creative outlet to kids whose lives are otherwise filled with the stress and challenges of poverty. We are delighted to report that the youth have now organized their own choir and drama group. We are now striving to raise $2000 to employee a music program for a year in order to continue this highly successful program.
My Name is Muthoni Wanjama, I am 16 years old and a beneficiary of SYSC job skills job skills training is the only way to escape poverty and become self-reliant. I am so grateful to all those who support our programs. SYSC has brought training opportunities to the youth of Shauri Yako that we only use to dream of. I have just completed a computer course and I am now in SYSC music class, learning how to play piano. I would like to be a musician one day. I believe it’s possible.
SYSC’s future plan is to put in place more arts courses, including digital media arts. This kind of training is suitable for self-employment and meets growing demand for these services locally. Do you have ideas or skills in this area or know of any potential partner organizations? If you can help, we’d love to hear from you and borrow from your expertise as we develop a project proposal. We are also always thrilled to receive donations of used equipment – particularly musical instruments, books and computers.
Please know that it is only with your support that SYSC can achieve its mission to give youth the skills they need to lift themselves from poverty. We remain a small grassroots organization that depends on the kindness of our individual donors around the word.
With our deepest gratitude,
We’re happy to send you another update on our actions to support the development and economic welfare of youth in Shauri Yako’s slums.
Youth Skills Training:
In June 2014, we recieved a donation of musical instruments from Nourish, a student-led organization at the University of North Carolina. We are now working with Nourish on the development of instuctional DVDs to teach youth how to play, and give them both an employable skill and the joy of music. We are also pursuing volunteer instructors and funding partners to help us expand this project. It is our longer-term objective to form a community band that can work for hire.
Thanks to Global Giving donors, we have also raised several hundred dollars to launch a computer and internet training project. While we didn’t meet our fundraising goal, we are able to bring internet connectivity into these slums for 5 months, along with a computer skills trainer. This is an enourmously important project, because internet connectivity is cost prohibitive for slum youth, who have little to no access to computers anyway. Through internet connectivity and basic training, we will be able to offer youth access to networks, employers, educational tools and – perhaps most importantly – ideas from which they are currently barred due to their economic class.
Reproductive Health Education:
Unplanned youth pregancy amongst girls as young as 13 years is a huge problem in Shauri Yako’s slums and contributing to child trafficking. Cases of stolen and abandon children are reported everyday. To address this issue, SYSC is working in colloboration with Family Health Options Kenya, who have provided SYSC staff with reproductive health counseling training so we can, in turn, support the community. We are also planning and seeking partners for a full reproductive health program.
Community Housing and Safety:
The population of Shauri Yako’s slums is rapidly growing, forcing people to build temporary housing structures along the Chania River and within the Mau Mau War cemetary. This is creating environmental and cultural pressures. In response, SYSC youth are mobilizing the community’s residents to launch a campaign to highlight these issues and pursuade Nyeri County goverment to find a sustainable housing solution. See the attached photos depicting local housing realities.
Fire disasters are common in the Shauri Yako slums, due to the use of highly flamable cooking fuel and building materials. Fire fighting is challenging because there are no roads within the slums and most houses here are attached. A SYSC youth volunteer group is now working with the Nyeri county goverment to educate residents on fire prevention and response. They are also exploring whether an emergency water point can be installed, or access roads be developed.
Lastly, we’re proud to let you know that the SYSC Scout Troop was selected to participate in the organizing committee for the International Scouts Jamboree in August 2014.
As always, we are eager to hear from you. If you have ideas or feedback on our work, please reply to this email. If you are interested in volunteering with SYSC here or from your home, we have lots you can do to help us help youth. And if you are able to donate, we would be enormously grateful for your support. We are small, grassroots, and dependent on the support of individual donors, but our impact is big for our size.
Chair of the Board
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.
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,
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."
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