Mathare Youth Sports Association – MYSA: Youth Rights and Protection Project
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS 2008), 41 percent of Kenya‘s population are young people under the age of 24. Five out of 10 Kenyan adolescents begin child bearing before the age of 20, while almost half of all these adolescents (46 percent) are without education. Inadequate awareness and knowledge on child rights within the society leaves children vulnerable and unprotected from physical, social and emotional harm.
Over 70 percent of Nairobi’s Eastlands consist of underprivileged communities. Most families are headed by single, hardworking mothers who have been abandoned by their husbands and mostly operate small scale businesses to sustain their kids. Many youth are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty which offers them a short and harsh life span marked by prostitution, violent robbery, drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual gender based violence, child neglect and abuse.
MYSA’s programs involve more than 25,000 boys and girls from these communities who participate in sports events and commit themselves to social community development. It is on this back drop that MYSA established the Youth Rights and Protection Project (YRPP) and developed, in collaboration with local partners, trainings and materials on legal instruments for child protection, child abuse/neglect, networking and linkages in child protection, children rights, children responsibility, children sexual gender based violence and child participation to highlight, inform, sensitize and advocate for these issues.
Under its Child Protection Policy, MYSA set up a Child Protection Committee, consisting of one representative from each of the 16 MYSA zone, that is responsible for:
- implementing trainings for MYSA volunteers, head coaches, chiefs from the local authorities, MYSA staff and all zonal elected leaders;
- sensitizing all MYSA youth members on the importance of child rights and prevention of sexual harassment;
- facilitating messages on gender based violence during the MYSA inter-zonal girls league and championship;
- forming working groups in the zones who will assist in sensitization and awareness creation during MYSA’s annual registration and the school program;
- counselling and guiding the children at the Kabete Remand Home.
Children as young as 10 years old up to senior citizen level: When working in the field of ‘Healthy Relationships’ MYSA usually selects a group of adolescents between 14 and 18 years of age. When informing on topics on sexual and reproductive health education, much younger children are also being targeted.
The MYSA Facilitators are able to deliver information on a very broad and general basis as well as to develop very focused and narrowed down awareness sessions.
Goals and challenges
- Create general awareness on child rights and responsibilities within the communities/ schools, and on individual level;
- Educate on issues directly affecting them;
- Prevent/ stop sexual abuse and harassment against children (incl. GBV);
- Promote healthy relationships and positive behaviour change;
- Establish safe and youth-friendly referral centres;
- Offer a safe environment for children within the MYSA system by promoting child participation;
- Deliver adequate and relevant information using different Edutainment tools;
- Pilot a school program under which youth protection clubs are formed to create ownership;
- Collaborate with Children Remand Homes on child counselling.
- The YRPP is headed by only one MYSA staff and in order to deliver quality work, additional staff and capacity development for an extra person is needed
- There is a lack of funding to implement all planned outreaches within the 16 zones
- There is a lack of sufficient IEC materials for distribution
Current focus and activities
Child Protection Committee: The members of the committee were trained as ToTs to deliver trainings to the zonal working groups. These groups in return disseminate accurate and relevant information to the young people during MYSA organised activities.
Participatory Educational Theatre (PET): The ‘Haba na haba’ Group uses community PET to pass information and create awareness through plays, music and poems on Child Rights and Protection.
Community Outreach: The communities are being sensitized in outreaches on Child Rights throughout the year as MYSA organises sports events such as the championship games, MYSA league games, inter-zonal girls’ league games and the girls’ tournament on Easter.
Remand Homes: For many years, MYSA collaborates with different remand homes in repatriating and feeding programs. The basis of these collaborations is the platform to assist in counselling the children and advocate for their rights and responsibilities.
Campaigns: MYSA participates in campaigns that advocate for Child Rights and networks with other like-minded organisations.
Link to children and youth rights
The Youth Rights and Protection Project works directly on a day-to-day basis with the children and youths through the established MYSA channels within the communities by organising activities in the zones and the respective schools. MYSA links the youths through the Theatre and Drama Group ‘Haba na Haba’ which passes information through music, dance, plays and poems. The youths are also linked through campaigns in colleges and universities across the country, which is done in cooperation with national and international partners. Furthermore, MYSA collaborates with prosecuting national offices, clinics and NGOs in the medical field to create linkages and a referral system when it comes to the right of children and their voices to be heard in front of the law.
For more information on children and youth rights:
Dr. Maria-Nieves Alvarez
Sector Project „Realising the rights of children and youth“
Tel.: +49 6196 79-1697
For more information on the project:
Myriam B. Sikaala
Development Advisor “Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) and Organisational Development (OD)”
Tel.: + 254 - (0) 718 - 777 866