Uplifting Kenyan Youth Through Soccer

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NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya has a population of 51.39 million people with at least 2.2 million people living in the slums of Nairobi. Currently, Kibera, a slum in Nairobi, holds 250,000 of those 2.2 million people. There are many reasons why a high percentage of the population lives below the poverty line in Kenya. However, Vijana Amani Pamoja is a nonprofit organization that recognizes issues that go along with poverty. For example, youth unemployment, drug abuse, and the rising rate of HIV/Aids in the younger generation. The organization’s main focus is on children ranging from ages 11-19 years old. It began in 2003 with a focus on sports and health education concentrated on uplifting Kenyan youth.

Vijana Amani Pamoja’s Goals

Vijana Amani Pamoja’s mission is to curate the younger generation’s interest in sports, specifically football, known in America as soccer. They hope to educate children on how to live a healthy lifestyle while gaining essential skills for a brighter future. The leaders want to provide the youth with the opportunity to bring themselves out of poverty and be aware of the health issues surrounding the people of Kenya. Not only that, but Vijana Amani Pamoja’s leadership aids these teenagers to learn about their country’s system. That way they are uplifting Kenyan youth to bring positive change to their communities.

Recognition and Focus

Other nonprofit organizations and surrounding communities have recognized the work done so far by Vijana Amani Pamoja. One of its big supporters is FIFA Foundation Community Programme, which recently highlighted the effects of the programs. They especially focused on how the organization incorporates disease screenings during its tournaments to assist kids in being aware of their health status. It has even led to soccer players, such as John Barnes, visiting the Kenyan organization as a way to show their support and be role models to these children.

The Vijana Amani Pamoja has also been recognized as a top nonprofit by organizations such as Global Giving. This is due to the fact that it is always adapting and committed to creating effective programs. For instance, Nancy and her team at Vijana Amani Pamoja noticed that not all girls in their programs were participating in the soccer portion. The team understands their concentration is not only on sports but on sexual health and reproductive rights for girls. Yet, it was important for them to give equal opportunities to girls and boys, so they held a focus group of girls. The focus group results exhibited that familial cultural and religious beliefs kept some girls from participating in soccer. These results led Nancy and the team to create a variety of sports for kids to take part in.

Programs They Offer

Sports, especially soccer, is a gateway for Vijana Amani Pamoja to provide educational opportunities to impoverished youth. Currently, they have 6 main programs, with Skillz Kenya being their main flagship program. Skillz Kenya focuses on education regarding the fight against HIV/AIDS through skills, with youth that is not only affected but includes those who have HIV/AIDS. Vocational Training is another program based on teaching some basic skills needed in the job market. For example, these skills include financial and computer literacy, catering, baking, and more to create a sustainable lifestyle.

Additionally, the Mrembo Program tries to create inner beauty and confidence in young girls. The word Mrembo means “beautiful” in Swahili, which is how the program gets its name. Kick “n” Test VCT is an annual event that uses soccer tournaments as a way to provide testing for HIV and TB. On the other hand, the Thematic Tournament provides a space for the soccer teams to compete. Finally, Show Corruption ‘REDCARD’ is a series of educational activities focused on the country’s issues. Through the program, they are uplifting Kenyan youth by helping them become aware of and one day become advocates for Kenyan citizens.

Overall, Vijana Amani Pamoja has been essential in providing education and life skills via soccer to impoverished youth in Kenya. The nonprofit has been gotten recognition from the Aga Khan Foundation, USAID, Yetu Initiative, and many others for their integration of sports and health education to bring change for the younger generation. The organization’s leadership has had a profound impact on health education throughout the country. Vijana Amani Pamoja and its supporters are succeeding in uplifting Kenyan youth through soccer.

– Sumeet Waraich

Photo: Wikimedia

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