Mathare Roots Youth Group
managed by A. Baird
Mathare Roots Youth Group is a community-based organization established in 2006 by a group of young men and women of the Mathare slums. We would like to try and bring “good fruits” from the slum, which would paint a better picture of our community – from Roots to Fruits! We pride ourselves on vast experience in community development acquired from long-term involvement in our community.
In 2010, we embarked on our mission to revive the adolescent health program. The aim of the program is to educate young boys and girls on their mental, physical and social health in order to help them cope with their day-to-day challenging environment. The lessons we discuss with upper-class students (aged 12 to 15) from primary schools in Mathare include the following topics: sexuality, puberty, early pregnancy, contraceptives, STIs, alcohol & drug abuse, circumcision, children's rights, abortion, HIV/AIDs, hygiene, rape, self-esteem, and leadership skills.
This program is particularly valuable to our community because there is no reproductive health or sexual education in the Kenyan national curriculum. Despite the tight space of the classrooms, students remain interested, cooperative, and participatory. The program entails games, group-work and discussions, unisex and gender-divided lessons, and activities. To increase student engagement we distribute snacks, which provide nutrition to the limited diets of youth in Mathare. Additionally, we purchase notebooks and handouts for each of the students so that they can engage in our lessons. Because securing funding presents a challenge, we have other ideas on how to make the program sustainable. We have targeted student leaders and presented to them the idea of starting student clubs at their schools. Next year, if funding does not permit our trained teachers to regularly visit the schools, then we will be able to facilitate similar activities via student clubs.