Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grew in the Slum, Determined to Excel in Life!

 Bits and Pieces of Young Person living in the slums

Youth from disadvantaged backgrounds like informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya experience a lot of challenges such as peer pressure, drug abuse, lack of capital, early pregnancy, school dropouts, lack of recreational facilities, idleness, jobless – just to mention a few. There is are lot of youth related organizations in Nairobi, Kenya that are geared towards sports, community services, health, career guidance etc.;

I applaud these organizations for the great programs they have in place that seek to empower the young people in shaping their lives to be either self employed or employed in the different pillars of the society.
I believe there is still much that needs to be done to connect the youth with ‘themselves’, challenging them to be critical thinkers and positive change makers in their communities, despite all the challenges that surround them. Youth need to be challenged more, empowered and urged to be proactive in determining their future and that is one of my dream goals that features in the Wilsen Initiative that I have founded.

The Bits and Pieces story is a journey of a young person living in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. I have lived in the Mathare slums in Kenya for many years and despite the challenges that surrounded me, I have been able to determine my destination (career paths), I am a positive role model to many youth through my work in ICT, family life and sports which is evident through many interventions at the community level and abroad. I have achieved a lot of awards through sports and co-founded two community football clubs i.e. Mathare North Rangers Football Club of which I’m the current coach and Metro Sports Football Club.

I have had many opportunities to tour some countries in Africa, Europe and Asia which has equipped me with me diverse thinking (Think Global and Act Local). I hold no university degree which would have been great to have, but this has not hindered me to be what I want to be in future. My degree has been acquired through tough thick and thin life experiences and other forms of learning and that is why I created the slogan “the champion in you…” under the Wilsen Initiative banner. Currently I am a fellow of the D&F Academy in Germany receiving training that will add to my life experiences by empowering me with skills to realize my dream project Wilsen Initiative (www.wilsenx.com).

Were it not for the well wishers and organizations like the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), D&F Academy and Nairobits Trust for developing youthful empowerment programs for underprivileged youth from the slum like me, I wouldn’t be where I am; working and supporting my family and initiating programs that would empower others in return. I thank Nairobits Trust for empowering me with ICT skills, MYSA with leadership skills and Dekeyser Foundation in Germany for believing in me and empowering me with the vital skills to unlock my potential. I believe in a society where people share skills, resources and co-create programs to address the needs in our society.

My story is unique and my passion for empowering the young people through helping others succeed by empowering them with skills or knowledge in my field of practice which are community development, leadership, sports for development and ICT is immeasurable. In 2001 I was featured in the BBC documentary, ‘Well Connected’, about the work of Nairobits and the global impact of the internet. I was interviewed for the program by the presenter, Mariella Frostrup, and assisted the production crew with their filming objectives during their stay in Nairobi. Something special about me is the support and encouragement I receive from my family which has a set up of very humble and determined family unit with a sole bread winner (my father) for many years before I got empowered to the extent I could help the family meeting its financial needs. Using my example I have been able to pay my school fees through either playing for a community club and volunteering at www.mysakenya.org and of late I’m supporting my siblings education. I’m a strong campaigner for youth for positive change by advocating for the youth to use their talents and skills to acquire opportunities around and beyond.

Currently I’m working on a concept that shall give the youth an opportunity to connect with other youth through sports and education among other youth related areas. The concept is in the pilot stage but with lots of activities in sports (Mathare North Rangers F.c) especially football, and motivational sessions at different forums where I share my success stories, and my journey towards inspiring others never to give up because there is a place for everyone to succeed in life. I usually refer to my quote; “The bus to success land is never full! Book your ticket now while you are still young” Wilsen Initiative Founder ~ Youth potential. Citing one example, I’m very pleased to have been invited to the first youth camp organized by Chrisc Kenya (www.chrisckenya.org). I was privileged to share my journey towards success as a young person with the main objective of encouraging others not to despair. I would love to refer you to a link that I posted after the event http://wilsenx.blogspot.com/2011/09/chrisc-kenya-leaders-camp.html

The idea of Wilsen Initiative is to spot talent and nurture it to the right direction by providing the much needed platforms for a young person to grow and express themselves. My starting point is Mathare slums in Nairobi and then reaching all over Kenya by connecting with the realities and possibilities in life. Some of the important life-skills worth learning for a young person to take the lead in their life and become a responsible citizen are for example; developing a positive attitude, self discipline, patience, hard-work, tolerance, goal setting abilities, personal branding and being a positive change maker (positive role model). All this is what is under my personal brand and I am encouraged to empower others work on the same, this is my story and for further reference kindly visit www.wilsenx.com and www.wilsenx.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 2, 2013

PEACE STARTS WITH ME AND YOU.

Working at Nairobits always brings pleasurable moments in my life and I believe that of others, we get to teach, learn, share and most of all bind together as one great family called the BITS. It is this great spirit of love in institutions like Nairobits that has triggered the much needed hope and quest for peaceful cohesion of all the tribes in Kenya.

Five years ago during the post-election violence that rocked the country many of our students and their families were directly affected by the mayhem in the  slums of Nairobi where our youth live.
This time we say in one loud voice NEVER AGAIN will a Kenyan raise against a fellow Kenyan in any situation especially when elections set in. Only less than two days are left for the much awaited elections under the new constitution when Kenyans will make the greatest decision of their lives and many generations to come.

I  was  honored to get together with students in discussing on how to maintain and building peace at Nairobits media lab class that I believe will promote great neighborhood and peaceful co-existing of different diverse groups starting from the class to the communities. In the last two years  I have actively engaged in peace building activities in sports (football) and creative hours by designing T-shirts that promote peace and good citizenship. These and many more are what I want to do with supporting Wilsen Initiative (www.wilsenx.com).

During the half day session we discussed the importance of maintaining peace before, during and after the general election. As a group we later gathered our thoughts in one big poster designed by fifty  students from Nairobits media lab.

This is how the program looked like;

  • Opening statement by the facilitator.
  • Contribution by students on how to maintain and build peace.
  • Brainstorming about the peace poster working in pairs then later working in two big groups.
  • The final poster designed by the group
  • Singing the national Anthem
  • Closing Prayers

We thank everyone for participating in this great moment of ensuring peace prevails in our communities and the entire nation.




Brainstorming sessions in pairs

Posting ideas on the white board
Joint poster designed by 50 students and signing for PEACE.
 “ Let us all live in PEACE and Not PIECES”.

God bless Kenya.

Report and pictures by Wilson Masaka, senior trainer at Nairobits / founder of Wilsen Initiative