Nov 24, 2020

The MYRC's Work is More Important than Ever

Anita Miniseries Cast and Crew
Anita Miniseries Cast and Crew

As it has all over the world, Covid-19 has presented life changing challenges to those living in the Manyatta slums of Kisumu. The Manyatta Youth Resource Center has been there throughout to help young people and their families cope. Among the very first actions taken by the MYRC after the onset of Covid-19 was setting up a rudimentary hand washing station at the MYRC office, which functions as a de facto community center. This consisted of a water tank and soap along with instructions on how to effectively wash hands. In a community where running water is scarce, this was a vital step and it involved not only the youth already associated with the MYRC, but family members and the community around the office. The local YWCA, which has been partnering with the MYRC on health, women’s, and gender issues for a number of years, recognized the importance of hand washing and was able to provide a larger water holding tank, which was set up at the office for community use. 

As they became available, the MYRC distributed masks along with directions on how to properly use them and on the importance of maintaining distance among people. By regularly wearing masks, the leaders were able to demonstrate their importance. 

One of the first actions taken by the Kenyan government was to put in place a curfew, which was strictly enforced for a time, closing many small businesses and the local marketplaces. This left some without the ability to procure food. The MYRC was able to get permission to step in and drop food bundles to the most needy and infirm in the neighborhood. The curfew was later modified to run overnight from 9 PM to 4 AM. 

The academic year in Kenya runs from January to November and primary and secondary schools were completely shut in March due to Covid. Without school, the Manyatta youth are turning to the MYRC for guidance and safe activities and the MYRC leadership has been working hard to provide them.  Soccer continues to provide an outlet for both girls and boys from primary aged into young adult. Although players on the field do not wear masks, when off the field they do. Not only is soccer a worthwhile activity in itself, the team building and cooperative skill learning continue to be a crucial aspect of the program. 

The recognition received by the MYRC soccer program and particularly its National Championship win at last year’s Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom tournament has yielded many benefits both on and off field. For instance, in late September, the Safaricom Foundation provided food and provisions for more than 500 Manyatta households with special needs or elders, which the MYRC distributed.

More recently, soccer balls and food were donated to the MYRC for distribution by The Honorable Ms. Rozaah Buyu, who represents Kisumu in the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, our program graduates Sidney and Benson both signed with club Gor Mahia, also known as K’Ogalo, a pro club based in Nairobi that has won the Kenyan Premier League a record 18 times. Both Sidney and Benson started as youngsters with the MYRC and have seized the opportunities the MYRC provided to create better lives for themselves and their families.

In MYRC art programs, the Naweza Films miniseries Anita about life in Manyatta continues to film episodes, which are available on YouTube.  Graphic Arts are also being explored with the creation of posters honoring MYRC graduates.

Even, and especially, in these trying times the funds provided to the MYRC by Equip Manyatta thanks to YOU keep the Manyatta community engaged in vital programs in Football/Soccer, HIV/AIDS education, Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention, Health Education, Prevention of Gender Based Violence, and Peace and Conflict Resolution. Many lives have been changed thanks to you. 

Please remember Equip Manyatta as this year closes, and Thank You for all you have done in the past. May the year 2021 be remembered as a time of peace and new beginnings!

Food donation by Hon. Ms. Rozaah Buyu
Food donation by Hon. Ms. Rozaah Buyu
Senior Girls Team
Senior Girls Team
U-17 Boys Win Friendly Games
U-17 Boys Win Friendly Games
Event Poster by Graphic Arts Trainees
Event Poster by Graphic Arts Trainees
Screen Grab from Anita Miniseries
Screen Grab from Anita Miniseries
Aug 4, 2020

We Work With Our Community Now and Always

One of Our Many Food Distribution Days
One of Our Many Food Distribution Days

Like much of the world, times continue to be tough at the Manyatta Youth Resource Center (MYRC) due to the global Covid-19 crisis. The work that MYRC does remains as relevant and valuable to its community as before, if not more so now. Though Kenya continues to see low reported infection numbers, the negative pressure on daily life exists nonetheless. Schools have been closed for the remainder of 2020, restaurants and other businesses continue to be restricted, travel between towns and cities is limited, and families are finding it hard to make ends meet. The MYRC is a safe place where youth can find positive activities and, in hard times, get a bite to eat. The MYRC is a resource to its community in more ways than just playing soccer and making music.

During these difficult last few months, the MYRC didn’t miss the chance to celebrate its 11th year as a community-based organization in Kisumu, Kenya. To honor this milestone, the MYRC organized packages of food and essentials for families in need. Players and coaches distributed the packages to families of MYRC members but also reached out to their surrounding community in Manyatta. The MYRC has become a pillar of the Manyatta community, and over these last 11 years we have shown that we are committed, ready to lend a hand, and ready to grow and adapt as an organization.

Along with food packages, the MYRC has been organizing assistance in direct response to Covid-19. The MYRC continues to sensitize community members about the importance of keeping hands clean and it has become a source for affordable soap and a site that offers a hand-washing station. A donation from the Blue Cross also allowed us to distribute hand-sanitizer to our entire youth team. Those of us who don’t live day-to-day in Manyatta might take for granted the luxury of access to soap and running water, but this service by the MYRC is critical to helping keep the virus numbers low in the slum communities.

Members of the MYRC recently designed t-shirts that they hope to sell at our soccer matches, musical and drama performances, and other events around town as they resume. The shirts will sell for the equivalent of $10. Our organization has really gained recognition since our championship win at the national Chapa Dimba tournament. The new t-shirts will capitalize on that new status while also improving the Manyatta United brand recognition.

Our General Manager Oballah also recently organized support for a community member by getting them a small stall used to sell French fries. They are able to sell plates of fried potatoes for around $0.50 each, and will sell close to 50 plates a day! In the Manyatta community people live on about $1 per day, so a business venture such as this can really be a significant mainstay for someone.

The MYRC looks for ways to provide the community with opportunities to pursue ideas, projects and businesses. Our director of film and media Ramsey has greatly benefited from MYRC support and he continues to build his career in film production through the foundation he built at the MYRC. He has had opportunities to travel and take part in forums with members from around the world, he has been able to produce his mini-series Anita on YouTube, and pursue other projects. Ramsey has also brought together a group of community members who share his dreams. Because the MYRC supported Ramsey’s ideas, many other youths also discovered their interest in film and media. From our recording studio, to the stage, to behind a camera, and onto the soccer pitch, the MYRC is allowing youth to follow their interests, build their talents and discover new paths.

Eleven years ago, we decided to call our community-based organization the Manyatta Youth Resource Center because we wanted to be a resource to our community and especially to the youth living in the slums of Kisumu. Today, we continue to live by that vision, and the resources we provide are ever evolving because we base our activities on the interests, needs, and talents of the youth we work with. They develop the projects and put them into action, while the MYRC supports them all the while.

We wouldn’t have made it this far without the support of people on GlobalGiving and elsewhere. We thank you so much and ask you to make another donation today so that we are able to provide the Manyatta community with the best support we can during these very difficult times. Thank you!

Food For Our Manyatta Neighbors
Food For Our Manyatta Neighbors
Hand Sanitizer Can Help
Hand Sanitizer Can Help
New Shirts - Masks Off for a Minute to Show Smiles
New Shirts - Masks Off for a Minute to Show Smiles
Ramsey and the Film Crew in Better Times
Ramsey and the Film Crew in Better Times
Even with a Mask You Can See the Smile
Even with a Mask You Can See the Smile
Apr 9, 2020

Trying to Keep Manyatta Safe During the Crisis

Learning the best way to wash hands
Learning the best way to wash hands

In Kisumu, Kenya everything is shut down. Much like the rest of the world, business as usual came to a halt as movement became restricted to prevent the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. This pandemic presents a massive danger to those living in informal settlements throughout Kenya, including Manyatta, Kisumu. Social distancing is a major challenge as houses are built closely together and whole families pack into one-room homes. Unsanitary conditions surround those living here and outbreaks of illness were already commonplace before Covid-19 came into the picture.

With testing unavailable, it is difficult to know the total number of people infected and it will be difficult to create a management plan if large numbers of people in the slums do get sick. In addition to the dangers of the Covid-19 virus, people in the slums also have to face the issue of how they will earn an income, feed their family, and keep a roof over their families’ heads. For families that live hand-to-mouth or rely on an income of $1-2 per day from sales in the marketplace, the future is uncertain but undoubtedly frightening.

As a trusted community organization, the Manyatta Youth Resource Center (MYRC) has an important role in providing factual information to its members and the surrounding community. Educational activities that focus on sanitation and health are of the utmost importance during this time. From young to old, community members benefit from understanding how they can stop the spread of disease. Our General Manager Oballah has organized a hand-washing station and program within Manyatta. Along with other MYRC leaders, he is talking with children and their families about why washing their hands is important and how to properly wash one’s hands. Oballah continues to make soap and water available for community members, including at the small eatery near the MYRC office. The MYRC leaders and members will continue to find ways to make an impact during this crisis and continue to find ways to operate safely.

Before the quarantine, the MYRC was moving along as usual. We were preparing for our upcoming leagues in KYFA as well as the semi-professional district league. We organized a back-to-school tournament hosting several under-12 and under-10 teams as students prepared for schools opening. Many students attend boarding schools and travel long distances away from home. Tournaments like these not only help increase the players’ skills, but they help ease some of the anxiety many students feel about leaving home again.

We also participated in a tournament and educational forum to mark International Women’s Day. Our ladies team competed in several matches and also participated in a lecture promoting equal rights and women’s rights.

The MYRC had started to offer free photography lessons to youth within Manyatta. Under the guidance of experienced members, youth were given MYRC cameras to take around Manyatta and capture their experiences. Our photography project also includes film. Our members continue to produce episodes of their YouTube miniseries, “Anita.” Ramsey, Anita’s creator and the MYRC film director, also took two trips, one to Rwanda and another to Uganda, to participate in a film conference and a film festival. He met people from around the globe who shared his interests and they collaborated together to build each other’s expertise.

Many guests also visited us as well. Students interning with the YWCA hosted small projects and helped out at the MYRC center. Mr. Phil Hindson brought several sets of jerseys to our organization and donated them to our ladies team. Several former Manyatta United players who have moved on to professional soccer careers also visited us. When our youth meet success stories such as Sydney, Benson and Marvin they stay motivated to continue working hard.

One success story from Manyatta is Akinyi. Akinyi started with the MYRC as a soccer player and played with us for several years. She had a competitive spirit and a perseverant attitude. As Akinyi played for MYRC, she eventually became involved in the sport of boxing. She was recognized as a determined and talented athlete. Today she represents the country of Kenya as a boxer. She recently flew to Senegal to compete in the Olympic qualifiers there. We are proud to say she and her team qualified for the second round of qualifiers. Akinyi still communicates with our manager Oballah and comes into the center when she is around. She recognizes that the MYRC gave her a safe and stable place where she could exercise, compete, and build herself as an athlete. We are proud of all that Akinyi has accomplished so far and look forward to following her career.

For now, the Manyatta Youth Resource Center has ceased all normal activities. The MYRC typically organizes events and programs that involve sometimes hundreds of people. Our drama, film, dance and soccer teams are all on indefinite break. Our recording studio’s doors are closed. This crisis presents the MYRC with an uncertain future. Our organization relies on income generated from events and victories in competition. All income generation has halted. As a community based organization, the MYRC recognizes our obligation to help within Manyatta. Members and leaders continue to ask the question, “What can I do to help my community?” Our group must still be present and create innovative ways to make an impact.

Though our projects are at a standstill for now, the impact that our programs have had are felt today and will be felt into the future. Players with professional soccer careers trace their start to the MYRC. Akinyi, a professional boxer, built her aptitude for success with the MYRC. Ramsey was given the opportunity to travel to Uganda and participate in a film forum because of what he created with the MYRC. As we take a break from normal activities it doesn’t stop us from looking to the future. Our programs must go on to provide a focus for hope.

We really need your support and donations to keep our organization alive. We will be relying on donations now more then ever. Please help with whatever you are able and please spread the word to family and friends. From the Manyatta Youth Resource Center and Equip Manyatta, thank you and Stay Safe and Well!

Ladies Team 2020 ready to play
Ladies Team 2020 ready to play
International Women's Day affirmations
International Women's Day affirmations
Learning to photograph Manyatta life
Learning to photograph Manyatta life
Akinyi (aisle seat) headed to Olympic qualifiers
Akinyi (aisle seat) headed to Olympic qualifiers
Oballah and MYRC moving forward to the future
Oballah and MYRC moving forward to the future
 
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