Maji Mazuri Mathare is a youth group based in the Mathare valley, along Juja road in Kenya. Maji Mazuri Mathare has partnered with Nairobits School of Digital Design and offers ICT courses to youth from Mathare slum as well as the less fortunate from the neighboring areas popularly known as “mitaa”. This training takes place during weekdays; Monday to Friday. On weekends the various youth groups have meetings and workshops in the facility to nurture skills and talent.
This group was initially started to unite, educate, empower the youth with good morals and help them learn how to become peace ambassadors. This good-will step was motivated by what Mathare was known for; high crime rate, prostitution, teenage pregnancies, petty crimes, drug and substance abuse and a lot of idleness among the youth. Maji Mazuri has played a big role in transforming Mathare slum as a whole through empowering youths since they are the leaders of tomorrow.
The Mathare Maji Mazuri Youth meet weekly; every Sunday afternoon from two to four o’clock. These meetings serve as an opportunity to gain skills to combat the difficulties we face as youths. They also empower us with general life skills such as leadership, financial discipline, good decision making among others.
Twice a year, the youth members meet and propose various activities to have then evaluate how the activities were as well as opportunities for growth and development. Some of the skills gained during our meetings are:
- MENTORSHIP – One gains good morals in life from People that have made it in life and are from the same humble backgrounds as most of us or rather all of us. This people share with us and give us their life stories on how they made it despite the challenges. This challenges the youth on; if they made it why not us?
- LEADERSHIP SKILLS – Different meetings are facilitated by different youth members that help us overcome fear and enhance their leadership skills. We are also given the opportunity to vie for different positions in the group, this gives us courage to stand in front of people to express our feelings and to take initiatives when required or requested.
- PHYSICAL FITNESS – We frequently have sports and tournaments that ensure we all participate and remain all-rounded, these sports include: football, rugby, netball, relay marathon and also swimming. This plays a major role in our lives because we always try to remain physically fit with or with no sports.―Roald Dahl once said, “Life is more fun if you play games.”
- RE-EVALUATION COUNSELING – This is a program where we are taught on how to deal with trauma and stress in the past life which always stigmatizes a lot of us from what we have passed through in life and around us. It also teaches us on good decision making, anger management and social skills amongst others.
- REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH- We are usually educated about state of physical, mental, and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system, at all stages of life. Good reproductive health implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.
- FINANCIAL GROWTH – We usually have different entrepreneurs who come at least once per quarter of the year to teach us on how to manage finances, improve our saving skills and to become better entrepreneurs. This really helps a lot because most of the youths don’t have saving skills and are more into impulse buying and spending. It also plays a major role for those who desire to start their own businesses. There is a ‘mtaa’ tagline that says “Pesa ni Maua” To mean Money is like Flowers meaning it will come and go. Though this is true let’s always remember that: A lot of people know how to make money, but are not gifted in the art of preserving it. Frequently the same risk that was involved in making you rich is the same risk that can make you poor again.
From just a 2 hour meeting you can learn a lot; we get equipped, well armed and ready to face life as it comes. This enhances that one thinks: “If one Sunday meeting can contribute to a huge life transformation positively, what if you attended all the programmed meetings more frequently throughout the yearly?”