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.
Chair of the Board
Trainee Fraciah Maina reports that she is also now self-employed - as a dress maker in Gamerock town. Not only is she earning a living with the two sewing machines she has purchased, but she is now employing two assistants from the community.
In other news, the leader of SYSC's Scouts Program, Tirus Ndegwa, is soon to be taking 14 members of our Scouts group to the Scouts Founderee camp for a week. Tirus has been elected to lead programs in First Aids, Health, Safety, Sanitation and HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing. The event is expected to draw 10,000 Scouts, including SYSC's members, who will benefit from the team building, leadership and learning opportunities.
Finally, we are anxiously watching the outcome of Kenya's general election on March 4th. We have worked hard to educate youth on the importance of voting. We are hopeful for quick resolution and a peaceful outcome. And we will continue to encourage the government to pay attention to slum issues.
We thank you again for your support and interest in our work. As we always say, we know there are a lot of ways you could give your money. We want to assure you how great a difference you help us make as a tiny organization working in a place where the need is so great and people receive very little additional support. If you are able to support us again, we wanted to let you know that on March 13th, Global Giving will be matching donations at 30% (up to $1000 per donor).
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Happy holidays to you and your families! As we write this eighth report for our Global Giving supporters, we at the Shauri Yako Community Youth Support Centre are still striving to raise funds to launch a second round of tailoring training. As our first round showed, the skills we teach the poverty-stricken young women who reside here enable them to find employment or start their own businesses. While Global Giving donations are currently our sole means of support for this project, we continue to seek additional resources as we are eager to get started training again. In the meantime, we are focusing on running our drop-in centre and sports and youth counseling.
We hope you might consider renewing your support to SYSC this holiday season. If you would like to give a donation as a gift to a friend or colleague, we’d be happy to have a local youth send a personal message of thanks. Just drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Why not become a monthly donor? For the cost of a few coffees a month ($22), you will allow two young women to receiving tailoring training. And for the month of December, Global Giving will match all recurring donations up to $100 per donor.
We are also very excited to let you know that we have launched a new micro-project under our broader Vocational Skills Training project. Through this small campaign, we are aiming to raise $3,900 USD to rebuild the walls of SYSC’s main centre to make them stable and secure from theft. Our facility is currently made of timber and iron sheeting and is sliding due to land erosion. Shoring the building in stone will allow us to run all our programs here safely and dedicate money otherwise spent to rent space for vocational skills training toward program delivery. To learn more, check out our project page at http://goto.gg/12395
In community news, there was another fire in Shauri Yako and Kiawara on September 29th that left 51 families homeless. Fortunately, there was no loss of life. Fire is an ongoing problem here because slum the slums are so densely populated, with homes built from very flammable, non-permanent materials and no piped water to extinguish fires when they break. On behalf of residents, SYSC continues to petition the Nyeri town council to install a water point here.
You may also be interested to know that a general election will be occurring in Kenya in March 2013. As part of our commitment to civic engagement and youth empowerment, we are encouraging the youth with whom we work to not only vote, but to vote for somebody who cares about youth and community development issues. Too often we only see politicians in this area when canvassing for votes. While it feels like we are facing many challenges right now as we strive to raise funds, we will not give up as the need here is too great. We know how little it costs for us to be able to make a major difference in the lives of local youth.
Again, we hope you will please consider renewing your support to our vocational skills training program or help us raise the funds to rebuild our centre. In doing so, you will be supporting the youth and at-risk families in our community more broadly by ensuring they have a safe refuge from the street and can access the supports they need to lift themselves from poverty. With our greatest gratitude and happiest holiday wishes to you.
Asante sana – thank you VERY much,
Joe Mwai, Chair, SYSC
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,
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
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