Job Skills and a Home for Kenya's Street Boys
Organized by: Zac Blanchard
EVENT DATE Sep 28, 2015
Job Skills and A Home for Kenyan Street Boys Three months ago, several Kenyan friends and I were returning home from dinner in Kisumu, Kenya (on Lake Victoria). Stopping for a snack, we were swarmed by a group of pre-adolescent and young teenage boys (“street boys”), asking for food. Kisumu’s street boys sleep on sidewalks or in the sewage tunnels, and lack education and consistent food sources. Just about all they have is…glue. Inhaling industrial glue can cause intoxication, euphoria, and hallucinations – and being very cheap, it’s easy to see why a bunch of young, starving kids living in sewers would be doing it. Unfortunately, inhaling glue also causes cardiac arrest, hypoxia, and permanent central nervous and brain damage. It’s also addictive. It’s a serious problem for a group of boys who already have serious problems. This is where my friends come in: Cliff, Chris, and Drake. They’re a couple of young twenty-somethings who grew in Nyalenda, Kisumu’s largest slum, and want to help. Cliff recently graduated from college with a degree in community development and is also one of Kisumu’s best-known slam poets. Drake is a Bob-Marley looking dude with an arts background who currently makes his living making shoes and flip-flops out of recycled material. Chris, a former orphan boy himself, has spent time tour-guiding and truck-driving, and has worked with many of the street boys personally. All three are fluent in English, Swahili, and Luo (the dominant tribal language in Kisumu). Specifically, my friends want to provide a home and vocational school for some of these boys. Additionally, they’ll connect them with local tradesmen – mechanics, carpenters, cell-phone repairmen, shoemakers, social workers, etc. – as apprentices. The idea here is not just to help them develop their own skills, but to benefit the Nyalendan economy by providing services and products that the slum, whose homes often lack in-home running water and electricity, has in short supply. The guys are calling it NyalendaKaziSasa (“Nyalenda Works Now,” if your Swahili is rusty). They’re already working on a volunteer basis three days a week, and recently took fourth in the Kenyan National Slum Initiative, winning $500– a whole lot of money in Nyalenda. However, they want to make this a full-time effort so they can provide a home, food, medical assistance, and whatnot, rather than just job skills and a couple hours of schooling. Last point: while the organization will eventually be self- or locally-sustained, we are requesting international donations to kick-start the project for the first year. This one-time goal of $10,000 will enable the team to provide a home, food, school and sports materials, teacher and supervisor salaries, etc., for 12 boys initially (money goes a long way here!), with plans and space to expand.