When one thinks of helping to create a bright future for the youth, education certainly comes at the very top, with sports following closely. And not just classroom education but the whole ecosystem that creates an enabling environment for good learning.
This power combination of education and sports is what Greencard Mtaani rides on to empower the youth, women and children in Kibera. Greencard Mtaani is a CBO that was registered in 2014 after the founders saw the obvious need for intervention in the lives of women and youth in the area.
Due to the sense of hopelessness that is prevalent in informal areas, the youth are growing up with no outlook in life and more often than not dropping out of school and turning into crime and drugs. Teenage pregnancy is also high, and many girls end up in the streets as criminals, unprepared mums, drug addicts and commercial sex workers.
Left unchecked, these scenarios will see us lose whole generations to the vagaries of slum life. This is what informs the work of organizations like Greencard Mtaani which also trains women in skills like beadwork, art, farming, and soap making among other hands-on skills that they can use to make a living. According to Natalie Lovely Adhiambo of Greencard Mtaani, the impact of their activities is already being felt, with women now being more able to feed their families, and the youth bringing in trophies from local championships.
A skill like soap making kills two birds with one stone. One, the women are able to make a living to feed their families, and two, there is availability of enough affordable soap which families and organizations can buy towards the fight against Covid-19. After all, frequent handwashing is one of the best defenses in the fight against the pandemic.
Alongside its other activities, Greencard Mtaani is also running the WASH program, an initiative for sensitizing school going children about the need for the continued fight against Covid-19. This way the children are able to keep themselves safe, and also go out and be handwashing ambassadors when they get back home.
The WASH program which will see Greencard Mtaani cover schools in all of Kibera is running in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. The goal is to not only teach kids the importance of handwashing, but also how to do it properly. Not just a quick splash of water, but thorough washing with soap and enough water to rinse off.
Earlier this week, my colleagues and I were at Zaelyn Academy to witness and be part of the kicking off of the program which will eventually spread to other schools in the area. One can see the sense of acceptance of handwashing among the children and the teachers. We caught up with one of the teachers and he says that the children are excited and receptive, and that due to habitual hand washing, there is also a reduction in other childhood communicable diseases. With less illnesses among the kids, school absenteeism is lower and concentration in their studies is higher.
The fight against Covid-19 is the premise of the Mastercard Foundation #ItsUpToUs campaign which is running in different areas in partnership with different implementing partners. The aim of the campaign is to remind people that the pandemic is still with us and that we should not let our guard down. In a previous article, we looked at mask making in Mathare, a program that is run by the Billian Music Family in partnership with Mastercard Foundation.