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
Vocational Skills Trainer Shows Student Work