In 2017, Uweza Art Gallery artists Syimon and Kevin started a t-shirt printing company. Combining savings from the sales of their paintings at the gallery and jobs they held, they purchased their first printing machine and started to spread the word among friends. They ran their new business out of their house in the 42 area of Kibera. Soon after, they expanded their product line to include hand painted t-shirts, shoes, and bottles.
In September 2020, they wanted to further expand and opened their first physical shop in the Olympic area of Kibera. This was a bold move during a global pandemic where businesses across Kenya are struggling with losses and closures. But they knew they needed a space to be able to meet and interact with their customers more easily and to market their work to a wider audience.
Fortunately, their risk has paid off. Today, their business, SK Arts, is thriving and they have been able to offer employment to two more Uweza artists. Their journey serves as a reminder of the long-term value of investing in the creativity and talents of youth and is an inspiration to other young entrepreneurs in Kibera and beyond.
Here are some other recent achievements, made possible by your support:
Our first class of Female Fundis completed their course work and final exams last month. Those who pass their exams will then move on to attachments with professionals in their field to gain practical experience. This initiative provides training opportunites for young women in non-traditionally female trades such as plumbing and electrical repair.
Five Uweza sponsored students completed their KCSE exams and completed high school this year. Despite interruptions to their education caused by the pandemic, they all performed well on their exams. Their scores rank among the top 20% of all exam takers in Kenya. 4 out of the 5 students scored well enough to earn directly entry into a public university.
In recent months, crime levels in Kibera have been increasing and male youth are losing their lives as a result. Many attribute this to loss of livelihoods and idleness as a result of the pandemic. Uweza Art Gallery and Uweza Soccer Academy have remained open and provide youth with a safe space to spend their time, positive role models and peer relationships, mentorship, and opportunities to earn income to support themselves and their families. These programs and support are more important now than ever. You can view and purchase artwork from our artists here: https://uwezakenya.org/product-category/artwork-kenya.
Mental health and stress among our program participants is an increasing concern and we have been working to find different outlets and techniques to allow our members to deal with stress in a healthy way. Bright Futures have, in recent months, engaged in team building activities, yoga, and art therapy. Our staff have attended training on mental health and trauma and we connect members to professional counselors when needed.
Thank you so much for your generosity and for investing in the youth of Kibera. Our work wouldn't be possible without your support.
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