Meeting Joel and talking to him gives you so much Joy.
As I walked into the godown where Alive & Kicking offices are along Mombasa, I was met with a strong smell of chemicals. But behind this, there is serious business going on in at this place, lives are changing through this small industry.
I am met by a tall young man sporting a big smile, he ushered me to the offices upstairs, welcomed me to feel at home. The walls of his office are ardoned by a picture of Kenyan sports celebrities and ready footballs. It is indeed a football center.
Joel took me through every step of the project information, and with a tear running down his cheek, he tells me the guy who started this vision passed on. His name is Jim Cogan, "but I am determined to carry it on by all means," he says.
This guy is passionate about this football making business, but he takes pride in making reference to an old man I met as I walked into the premises. This guy is called Martin Juma. He explains to me how a football is made, step by step.
"What are your challenges?" I ask.
"Putting bread on the table for these young people and their families daily. That is my core business - getting them out of antisocial behavior - that is my business for as long as I am 'Alive & Kicking.' That is what Jim taught me."
Joel continues. "We have walked a difficult journey, my team and I have to work extra hours to make sales. You see, if we don't make sales then we can not sustain this project and these young people here will go back to lives of crime."
As we talk, we are constantly interrupted by someone who wants to consult, or by a visitor who wants Joel to send a representative either to assess their project for support or witness a sports event. He takes me to the finance office and then the marketing office. "Leah, would you like to look at our financial records?"
"Yes by all means," I respond. The accountant quickly pulls out some records which I browse through and ten leaves. After the tour, I get back to his office and there is a pile of files for me to look at.
He does not hesitate to furnish me with any information I ask for. I don't know the social family background of Joel, but he left a living impression on my mind that HE CARES for the less privileged members of the society. It is so deep in his heart that it overflows to his face and radiates among all the people around him. "These guys have come to collect some footballs. Would you like to have a chat with them?" he asks.
"Yes, if they have a little time to spare," I say. Then he introduces me to Charles and Julias from Kayole and leaves me talking to them while he attends to other matters.
A chat with Charles and Julias (beneficiaries)
Charles Owino and Julias Nyandega are teachers at St. Francis progressive center in one of the slums in Nairobi.
They have a sports event at their school and so they had come to collect some balls. "Alive & Kicking has supported us for last 4 years," Charles said. "They found the children using balls that are made from papers out of the garbage. Since then, they have not turned their backs on us. They visit and also donate balls to the school."
"How do you support them from your end?" I ask.
"Sometimes we buy one or two because we realise that they have people to pay. They also visit us and the children feel good. They visited us with Denis Oliech (a famous Kenyan footballer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Oliech) and the kids felt honored. I will never forget that joy and excitement, when they saw Denis Oliech. They also talk to the children about HIV/AIDS, drug and substance abuse."
"When they give you free balls, do they disclose who supports them with that?" I ask.
"Yes," responds Julias, "they tell us that GlobalGiving is behind all this. We are praying for Joel and his team that they may reach more children in Kenya and especially in the rural parts of our country."Attachments: