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,
Chair of the Board
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."
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,
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: http://goto.gg/14823.
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.
To our generous supporters,
We are so happy to tell you that we are nearing completion of the rebuilding of the Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre. Our centre is a very important place for youth from the three slum communities we serve, providing them with refuge from the street, access to health and social support, counseling, job skills and leadership training, etc.
You may know that our old centre was built of semi-permanent iron sheeting and timber and had become totally unstable due to erosion. By late 2012, we had hit the point where had to find a way to raise the funds to rebuild, or cease our operations. Shutting down and giving up was not an option - youth here deserve a chance for a better future and we are committed to trying to provide them with the tools they need to lift themselves from poverty.
Thanks to support from you, other friends and the Project Solution (www.theprojectsolution.org), we now have a near-complete stone and mortor building, with walls and a roof to withstand the elements and our hillside location. This new facility will also be able to house our job skills training equipment (like our sewing machines), securely so we can hold vocational programs here. In the past we've either had to use much needed funds to rent secure programming space or pay for night security to prevent theft.
There is a lot of excitement within the community about this new centre. People have told us they see the project as a sign of hope for a new start. People are already asking us when we will have enough funds to start new job skills programs, or to hold community planning meeting, even though the rebuilding is not yet complete.
If you are able to make a small donation in support of our on-going work, we will use it to put glass in the window frames, attach our rain barrel to harvest free, clean water and complete other final touches. In the meantime, we are actively seeking grants from bigger non-profit organizations, governments, etc. so we can begin more job skills training here.
Thank you again so very much.
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