After spending 5 weeks working in and discovering Ghana as an YCI Innovator, I am back to work in Nairobi, Kenya, completing a CIDA Internship position through Rooftops Canada. I have been here for over 6 months, developing communications material for an organization called the National Cooperative Housing Union (NACHU). This Kenyan NGO uses the cooperative model to provide decent and affordable housing for low and middle income groups throughout the country.
While in Ghana, I helped strengthen an YCI and YMCA partnership program to develop a clear strategy for building the capacity of the local youth and community. When consulting the Ghanaian youth to create a sustainable livelihood program, I became more aware of the various challenges that young Africans face. In Koforidua, meeting the YCI Mentors showed me that youth can be the leaders to initiate change in their community.
From my experiences across the continent, I have learned that youth from both East and West Africa are met with similar obstacles when trying to strengthen their livelihoods and establish decent standards of living. In Nairobi, for example, rapid urbanization has left over a million Kenyans living in the city’s slums. These insecure and unsanitary living conditions have adverse effects on physical and mental health, and are particularly harmful to the development and life opportunities of youth.
With a better understanding of the African youth perspective, I am helping NACHU develop a strategy specifically for Kenyan youth so that they can access affordable and safe housing solutions. The youth programs at NACHU work to mobilize and empower youth, providing training in areas such as entrepreneurial skills and the promotion of HIV/AIDS awareness and gender equality. This package will help young people access NACHU’s financial and technical services so that they can buy land and build their own homes. With this program, youth will be able to help themselves leave the slums and live in safe and secure environments.
The youth in Ghana and Kenya have humbled me with their perseverance through struggles and their commitment to spearhead significant and sustainable change in their communities. I hope to continue having the opportunity to work with such inspiring individuals.