Victor Muema is the chairperson of Sinai Paradise Youth Group, a member organization of our Nairobi Working Group . He was the second-runner up at our Young Leaders Stories Competition. Below is his submission.
It is pure nostalgia when I recall how I got to know Youth Alive Kenya. It was one of those days during the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic that I decided to do a search on the organizations that serve the youth in Kenya on Google. Amongst the search results, there was Youth Alive Kenya. I opened the results one by one to get an understanding of what the organizations did to empower young people. I was impressed by the array of projects Youth Alive Kenya did to ensure the potential of young people was fully realized. Their focus on economic empowerment and livelihoods is what captivated me most. This is because, as a chairperson of a youth group which reared chicken for income generation, I needed any support that would make the group bounce back from the adverse effects of the scourge. After going through their website and getting to know where their offices were located, I informed my friend that we needed to visit them and see how we could synergize.
The day came. Accessing the offices was not easy. You had to have an appointment or call someone to pick you up at the gate. This was to minimize physical interactions because we were living in unprecedented times. We were allowed to proceed to the offices after keeping us waiting for more than two hours. At the end of the day we had met George, Victoria, Purity and Norman who were staff at Youth Alive. In fact, Norman offered to carry us in his car back to Mukuru. That is how it all started. That was January 2021.
Fast forward to June 2021. I got an invite from Purity for a two-day training workshop held in Sportsview Hotel Kasarani. Amongst the sessions, the one on resource mobilization had a huge impact on our group. As a result at the end of the year, we had secured a partnership with APHRC to expand our project and replicate it to other six youth groups in Korogocho. We were contracted to construct poultry houses and train them on basic poultry farming skills.
Armed with this knowledge, I pledged to myself that once the window for registration of new voters was opened the following year, I would be on the frontline to ensure many young people in our ward registered as voters. I realized with votes comes power. When the time came, I spared no energy to ensure we got the numbers. We mobilized many youths to register.
On election day, we used the strength of youth votes to elect a youthful candidate who was considered weak because he was on a UDA party ticket in an area which has been voting for candidates on ODM party ticket. It was also during the workshop that I heard about public participation for the very first time. This is what young people from Kiambu were using to hold the county government accountable and ensure youths were involved in decision making. From their presentations, I learnt about county processes and got an insight that these were some of the actions we needed back home.
Recently, we took part in the formulation of the County Integrated Development Plan 2023-2027. We actively participated to ensure youth issues were prioritized. The Sub-County Administrator commended us for turning up in large numbers to amplify youth voices to enrich the plan. He said it was the first time he was witnessing such a large group of youths taking part in nation-building and in an orderly manner.
I was also part of the team that compiled the Mukuru People’s Manifesto. The views and needs of the citizens were captured in the document. Aspiring candidates signed to commit they were going to implement the developmental outlines in it. We are looking forward to working with all elected leaders.