Five years ago, I started the work of helping poor but talented children from Kibera Slums live a descent life through sports. The most compelling issues - pulled me back home to work on building the community to which I was born and raised up. An underserved place for every child, where young girls and boys face extreme barriers. Parents wake up every day not knowing whether they would get enough food for the family to eat while the children wonder if they will be able to attend high-school in pursuit of their dreams and single mothers often having to sleep with men, to have food on the table for her children. I initially started working with a group of 350 children, and the idea is to train them to become professional athletes, coaches and sports administrators as well as provide them with athletic scholarships to attend high-school. Five years later and even after having lost 68 of them to early marriage, death, drugs and crime, my resolve and commitment to helping these children succeed is even stronger.Attachments:
Every day, the stories of young boys and girls that I work with inspire me. From the story of Kennedy, a young boy born in the confines of a remand-prison 16 years ago, after his mother was arrested for selling, changaa, a traditional brew then considered illegal-which was their only source of income. Born to a father that he never knew, and a terminally ill mother whose health was fast deteriorating, Kennedy assumed the role of a bread-winner at the age of 8, he worked in farms and looked after animals so he could put food on the table for himself and his mother. For 3 years, he worked and took care of his ailing mother while his hopes of going back to school dwindled.
In 2009, the ailing mother handed over Kennedy to our organization, just a few days before her death. And from then on, we began the long-journey of putting Ken back on the life-track; we arranged for an alternative family and placed him back at primary school; we patiently and diligently instilled in him the values that we strive to nurture in each and every one of these children; a sense of limitless possibilities. At 11 and having gone through a life-time of incredible toughness, Ken had already put in many years of ‘training-in-necessity’ unknowingly, perhaps, in readiness for an athletic career in the future; and he is currently our finest athlete. Today, he is not only in high school, but he has also learn’t that he can turn his misfortunes earlier in life into jet-fuel for his athletic success.
I am always drawn to the power of a single story, like Ken’s, which shows the impact of our work. But each of the children enrolled in our athletic programs, has their own stories. What they experience no ordinary circumstances, but ultimate barriers to their dreams. My organization has always strive to break down these barriers. And, together we are creating change. Inspirational young like Kennedy are the future of their countries. For all of the girls and boys in our programs, sport is an opportunity to find happiness today and hope for tomorrow. We are ever more motivated by our results and our potential to grow. Thank you all for your unwavering dedication. It is because of your enduring support that we can transform the lives of so many children in Kibera through sport.
I am proud of the progress we have helped achieve, not only because of its impact on an entire community, but because, in very concrete ways, our work has improved the lives of individual children, families and by extension, the entire community. Our programs prove that where the child sees a barrier, we also see an opportunity. We will continue to push for this—our cause—to overcome barriers, not for ourselves, but for our community and Kennedy, his children and grand-children. And for theirs.
NB: Our organisation will soon be known as Beyond Athletics