How young people are weaving their way out of drugs, other vices
Hillary Akola, a resident of Loresho informal settlements in Kangemi, Nairobi. On a Tuesday mid-morning, Akola sits outside his house, making a table mat. He hurries to complete the mat, an order from a customer within the city.
Although not previously trained as an artist, Akola is one of the young people who gained artwork skills from the Madini Youth Foundation, a non-governmental organization started to support and empower locals in Loresho’s informal settlements.
According to Akola, the organization has helped him and other young people in the area expand their knowledge on artwork and other income generating activities. “The initiative has helped me to keep away from societal vices which would have otherwise turned me into a criminal. I have been busy all along especially training my fellow slum dweller,” said Akola.
Akola adds that the artwork skills he gained from the initiative have transformed his life, helping him to venture in the business of making mats, beads among other things. He has also been extending the knowledge to his fellow slum dwellers to keep them away from drugs and uptake of other outlawed substances.
But with covid-19 pandemic, the organization has since started virtual training sessions to avert possibilities of the clients contracting or spreading the deadly virus.
Many families in the area live in deplorable conditions, unable to afford the cost of living and education for the youths.
Young people are forced to drop out of school and give up on their dreams. Due to inability to afford basic needs, they turn to a life of crime, drug abuse, and prostitution among other vices in an effort to survive.
According to Peter Waita, the Nairobi-based foundation that conducts outreach activities identifies and provides hope for the impoverished people; donating food items to the neediest persons saving hundreds the agony of missing meals.
The organization further initiated a program providing skills training, resources and guidance in a bid to help them achieve socio-economic independence and freeing themselves from poverty. The support program was divided in family, field work activities, artwork skills training, sponsorship initiative and an educational program.
To avert possibilities of the clients contracting or spreading the deadly virus, the foundation applied technology and commenced to engage the beneficiaries virtually for education and a section of the training sessions.
“We actually had to shift to supporting beneficiaries through Mpesa as we could hardly meet them in their houses and still observe social distancing. The money we have been sending to them was meant to cater for their food and buy sanitary towels for the neediest girls,” said Waita.
Some of the students-turned-entrepreneurs, he added, have gone to an extent of opening pages on social media like Instagram and Facebook as a way of advertising their businesses especially during this time when most people are at home.