How are you serving your community?
6 days ago, 05:15
The idea to start a charitable organisation came to Eric Nehemiah, 27, while he was taking a walk in Mathare slums. It was 2012 and he was 20 years old.
“I thought of the children I often came across in the slum, how many of them ended up dropping out of school due to lack of school fees or didn’t go to school at all and felt compelled to do something about it,” he says.
Eric is a trained photographer, skilled footballer and dancer. He is a beneficiary of Mwelu Foundation, a CBO that nurtures the talents of children from poor communities.
Here, he learnt photography while he learnt dance and played football at Mathare Youth Sports Association.
He was a product of the kindness of others, and felt motivated to teach what he knew to those who were less fortunate like he once was.
His training at these two institutions took about five years, and it was while thinking of the best ways to put his skills to use that he realised that he could make a difference in the lives of children in the informal settlement.
“I joined hands with a like-minded friend, James Ndung’u, and together, we set up Mathare Foundation in 2013. I am the project manager,” he explains.
Mathare Foundation, is registered as a CBO, and its core role is offering skills in photography, football and performing arts.
Announcements for the programmes they are sponsoring at any given time are usually put out through word of mouth or through the foundation’s social media platforms.
When a child expresses interest to join, he or she consults their guardian for consent.
“Depending on the theme of the week, we sometimes travel to places such as the National Park to practice photography. On days that we remain in Mathare, the children mostly play football under the instruction of a football coach,” he says, adding that they target those between 10-16 years because they feel that those are critical years in a child’s development.
The aim is to train them, the end result to create opportunities for them while imparting them with leadership and life skills.
Together with three hired trainers they have at the moment and a team of four volunteers, they take the children through the process of taking photos: the classes are offered in sessions and cover theory and practical skills.
The classes are held on weekends and the children are allowed to learn as long as they want.
Currently, they are training about 60 children. More than 150 children have gone through the programme since its inception in 2013.
Today, some are skilled photographers and footballers earning money from their skill.
There are also those that have recorded music. At the moment, the organisation is setting up a dance programme specifically for girls between 11 and 16 years.
“Engaging in constructive past times such as dancing and football keeps the youngsters occupied, and so are less likely to engage in behaviour such as taking drugs or engaging in pre-marital sex, which could lead to teenage pregnancy,” he adds.
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