It is time for another project report for you, our Global Giving supporters who have signed up to receive updates. While we are still continuing to fundraise toward a new round of vocational skills training and getting ready to launch our new website, we thought we'd take this chance to tell you a little more about the realities and challenges that face the youth we serve here in Nyeri town.
As you may know or recall, SYSC is located at the edge of Nyeri town, in the heart of a large local slum that is amongst the largest in all of Kenya. The slum’s population is estimated to be 175,000, but nobody knows for sure. Youth make up the majority of the population and it is estimated that 90% of these youth live in abject poverty.
Our community lacks basic infrastructure such as electricity, water and sanitation. The average home size in Shauri Yako is 3 by 4 meters with an average of 5 people per house and 1 pit latrine for every 25 people. Food security is a big issue. Health services are minimal and the HIV/AIDS rate is high. As you can see in the photos attached, residents of Shauri Yako depend on polluted water from the Chania River for drinking, laundry and all their needs. Youth here face so many challenges, including lack of education and training opportunities, high unemployment rates and economic and social marginalization.
In our recent youth development meeting, it was noted that one of the biggest challenges for job creation and self-employment in the Shauri Yako community is lack of electricity and water supply. Youth try to launch businesses - like barbershops, video halls, cell phone charging - but the only source of electricity power in the slums is from generators, making it exorbitant for small income projects. SYSC has requested the county authority to consider bringing electricity in the slums, to help residents who are trying to improve their lives.
We continue to depend on local efforts and the financial support of international donors such as yourselves to continue our regular advocacy on behalf of residents to the government and to deliver programs to give youth a chance to escape the binds of poverty.
With appreciation for your kindness,
Chair of the Board
A note to our kind supporters,
Since our last update, we have been working to raise funds toward a new phase of the project. As a small community-based charity, we know this may take us some time. We are taking steps to improve our ability to compete with bigger charities for corporate grants and awards to supplement the generous support of our Global Giving donors, such as improving our website and recruiting volunteers. We have a waiting list of girls hoping to be a part of phase two, which we will launch as soon as we generate enough support to get started.
Over the past three months, we’ve made some changes to lower our program costs. Rather than continue to rent program space and pay utilities, we have moved our equipment to our our main, owned center. We’ve also hired a guard to address longstanding security concerns that have prevented us from running programs from our main space before. While moving and security required us to incur new costs, we are now saving critical funds each month that can be devoted to program delivery.
We are staying connected with our 2011 phase 1 graduates, all of whom are now self-employed. Because a tailoring shop can be run from home and has low start-up costs, this is an appealing option. Five of the eight graduates have purchased their own sewing machines and are now running small businesses making bed covers, table clothes, school uniforms and dresses. The other three graduates have started a co-op making leather sandals. SYSC is helping them in trying to secure funds through the Kenyan government’s new Youth Enterprise Funds program.
Reflection on life in Shauri Yako from Joe Mwai, SYSC Chair of the Board
A few reports back, I told you about how food security has always been a big issue in Kenya and is a major problem in our community. For the last six month, food prices have been sky-rocketing, affecting the urban poor who lack land on which to grow food the most. As the price of staples like maize, grains and sugar have climbed by ~25%, it has become difficult for families around SYSC to afford even one daily meal.
When I was growing up here, my brother and I left school for 2 years so that we could help mom put food on the table. We worked for a dairy farmer who paid us monthly in the form a 45 kg bag of maize flour. This didn’t seem so bad – food was our most critical need and the flour kept the family going, supplementing whatever else mom could get. When work was not available, we survived by raiding the local slaughter house waste bins, where we would get cow intestines, hoofs and anything else that looked edible.
It’s not news that that extreme poverty results from a lack of education, job training and employment. In our community, it has caused social ills like prostitution, disease, crime and human trafficking. Sometimes during my work I see things that make me want to shut off my mind because I cannot solve all these problems. But after 16 years of experience, I am certain that education and job skills empower people to reduce the problem – I, afterall, am evidence of this myself.
With our on-going thanks to all who contribute to our work. Asante sana!
Joe Mwai and the SYSC Board
Our objective of providing vocational skills training to the at-risk youth of the community we serve continues to be a big priority for the Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre. Our experience has shown big returns on investment when youth are empowered with skills that help them find jobs. As they become self-reliant, they give back to the community, reducing poverty in a sustainable way.
We plan to continue to run this project in phases as funds are raised to support program costs like the salary of vocational skills trainers. Through your support, Phase 1 provided 6 months of tailoring training, entrepreneurship counseling and HIV/AIDs awareness to 8 girls between July and December 2011. Most graduates are now pursuing self-employment and are opening shops, often from their homes, selling local necessities such as dresses, bedcovers and school uniforms, as well as recycled material shopping bags. We are assisting these graduates in finding access to micro-credit to help them get their business operations off the ground.
When enough funds are raised to kick off a second phase of the project, we plan to continue to with tailoring training targeting girls. Young women in our community are the most vulnerable and most are single mothers. Empowering them also helps their children and families by extension. Nine girls are now waiting to participate in phase 2 when sufficient funds ($5000) are raised to proceed.
While we continue to fundraise through Global Giving, we are also actively pursuing grants and awards that support small, grassroots sustainable development projects like ours so we can kick start the next phase of training.
We say many thanks go to all who have contributed to this project. Together we are making a difference.
Chairman: Joe Mwai
Secretary: Anthony M. Mucheru
Shauri Yako community Youth Support Centre
P.O. BOX 87, Nyeri Kenya
As the holidays are upon us, we'd like to take another opportunity to thank you with our whole hearts for being a friend to the people the Shauri Yako community this year, and giving eight young girls the chance to escape poverty.
If you still have gifts left to cross off your list, would you consider making another donation to Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre (SYSC) as a tribute to someone you love?
Unfortunately, for many here in Nyeri the holidays are not a time of joy. Because most people in these slums live on less than $1 a day and there is no land for farming, many will go without food to eat on Christmas. Poverty has many trappings, one of the worst of which the girls in our community is human trafficking. Young women, desperate for a better life, are being recruited to work in oil rich Middle East countries as house help. Many are never heard from again. The media and the few who manage to escape report that they are held as slaves or forced to engage in commercial sext work.
We at SYSC continue to believe that the best way to address poverty is to provide Nyeri's youth with the tools, skills and knowledge they need to move on to a better life. We do this through education, vocational training and health outreach. We have now trained a total of over 240 youth in computers, tailoring, welding and metal work. Over 50% of these individuals are now directly employed and many of the rest are earning a living through self-employement. We also address more immediate needs by providing a drop-in shelter, offer free HIV/AIDS education and training, promoting urban farming, facilitating youth involvement in sports and, when funding permits, run a food sharing program for those families most in need.
Your support for SYSC through Global Giving this year has allowed us attain training space, recruit trainers and offer tailoring training to 8 vulnerable girls. These young women, who all wish to pursue self-employment, are now receiving our support in attaining microfinance to help them get their feet off the ground.
We remain a tiny charity that depends entirely on individual donors like you. Our small size has benefits though in that we can mobilize resources quickly and have a very real impact on the lives of people we know to be in the greatest need. We are striving to raise $5000 through our holiday campagin so we can offer a second phase of training to the next round of girls who are waiting for the opportunity. Further funding raised toward our project goal will be used to begin a new course offering for young men in welding and/or plumbing in 2012.
Please, consider changing the course of a young person's life as a gift that will really be appreciated this holiday season. It may be convenient to sign up as a monthly donor, so you can spread the cost of your gift out over the course of a year. Or see Global Giving's Tribute Card option to make a donation in honour of someone else.
Joe Mwai and the SYSC Team
Your Support is Helping Girls become Self-Employed
We are happy to report that the eight young women who you and other Global Giving donors have sponsored will graduate in December 2011! Equipped with tailoring, dress design and entrepreneurship skills (as well as HIV/AIDS education and testing), most of the students are planning to pursue self-employment. SYSC will assist them with access to micro credit and youth enterprise programs. Many thanks from SYSC staff and our trainees for supporting this initiative. We are committed to continuing to raise funds so we can offer more girls an alternative to poverty.
On a sad note, we wanted to let you know that Shauri Yako was devestated by a fire three weeks ago: sixteen homes and the life of a child were lost. Town authorities reported that it was not possible to stop because there was available water. Because this has been a regular problem over the years, SYSC has continually advocated for the installation of an emergency water point in our community. Unfortunately, town officials have never taken action. 42 families are now sleeping in the rain and cold.
On a happy note, we wanted to tell you how we're able to help youth escape the slums for a few hours through our sports program. When we started working with youth within the community, we realized that one of their greatest needs was right to play in safe recreation space. Shauri Yako and Manjengo slums didn’t provide any space for this purpose. When I was growing up here, we use to go and play at nearby garbage dump or roam the streets. Wealthier parts of town were restricted to people like me and it was a trespassing offence to be caught there. When hungry, we use to invade the garbage bins in the Asian quarter in search of food - there was always roti. Forty years later, Shauri Yako slums have grown to the point that there is no spare space left.
We at SYSC found a way to address this problem. Eight years ago we successfully negotiated an arrangement with the Ministry of Works to the old sports grounds of their football club, located twenty minutes away from our centre. It’s now a place for us to provide sports training and leadership programs, home ground for SYSC’s own football club and a very popular recreation space for community residents. In exchange, SYSC maintains the grounds and coordinates programming. Everyday you can find hundreds of people there – families spending quiet time together or playing soccer or volleyball. It’s the only green space available for the approximate 175,000 people who live here and it is our hope it will remain and green public space forever. SYSC has plans to start a cricket training facility for young people, in hopes some can make career out of it.
With thanks again for your kindness and continued support.
Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre
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