Earlier this month, Safaricom kicked off a new journey of love and kindness among Kenyans after the collective beating we have taken in the last two years or so. The journey dubbed Tuinuane is a call for Kenyans to unite and do good for one another to build the foundations for a more resilient country. On their part, Safaricom is also running a number of programs and product offers to lift Kenyans in the same spirit.
One powerful story that demonstrates the spirit of Tuinuane is that of MTG which stood out enough for Safaricom to pick as a showcase at the launch of the initiative. MTG which stands for Moving the Goalposts is a unique and innovative project that uses football for development to empower girls in Kilifi County. It was founded in 2001 with an aim to promote girls’ rights and voices in a county where their futures are heavily compromised by poverty, poor education, early marriage, and teenage pregnancy. These have kept parts of the county in a vicious cycle of poverty with slow progress towards better times.
By instilling confidence and life skills in the girls, MTG which has impacted around 5,500 girls is showing them that their challenges do not have to define them. That they can craft a future for themselves and their families that is devoid of the shortcomings they grew up with. Through football tournaments and an annual football league, the girls get to step out of their backyards, gain exposure away from their cocoons, see the world differently and learn new ideas. This way, MTG is laying the ground for a ripple effect where empowered girls will raise empowered girls and one case at a time, the tide will turn for the better.
When one thinks of helping to create a bright future for the youth, education certainly comes at the very top, with sports following closely. The idea behind the formation of MPG was to address the very low transition from primary to secondary school in rural Kilifi and the powerful combination of sports and education is a sure bet. Not only do the girls get better formal education, but they are taken through the whole ecosystem that creates an enabling environment for overall growth. Towards this, under MTG they also learn leadership, sexual and reproductive health, and economic empowerment.
The question remains, how exactly do you bring football – a sport that’s highly considered masculine – and women’s rights together? By demonstrating that with good organization and determination, any sport can be an avenue for success. Football which is already big in Kenya gives the girls a safe space to play, organize their activities, horn their leadership skills, and discuss the issues affecting them as peers. Under the slogan ‘Tunaweza’ which means ‘Yes we can’, the girls also learn teamwork and how to lift one another day to day. Right there is the spirit of Tuinuane again, this time not from the organization to the girls but from the girls to one another.
How do the girls lift each other? By fostering trust among themselves, looking out for, and encouraging each other. These are the words of Fathime Hamisi, a beneficiary of MTG who joined in 2008 and has since risen to be the head coach known fondly as Coach Tibu. Through MTG, football has taken Fathime to heights she could never have thought of, the most outstanding being traveling to Manchester City for the Young Leaders Conference.
Growing up, Fathime always had an interest in sports and her dream career back then was to be a football commentator. She just didn’t know how to chase that dream. Her ambitions have since changed into professional coaching and that’s where she is headed. She’s an inspiration to other girls and a success case for MTG’s efforts.
In the spirit of Tuinuane, be kind to someone. They’ll be kind to someone else in return and in the end, we will be a happier people who have helped each other ease the struggles of everyday life.