To be born in one of the poorest slums in Kenya is not optional, if you dare ask anyone if being in Mathare is what they expected, you will be faced by an uppercased NO with a continuity of a but... It is clear that majority of the people who live in slums wouldn’t wish to be born there where life is judged by the end of the day and what you have in your pocket contrary to a normal practice of the elite where you already know how your day will look like and what your three course meal will be.
Seeing another day in the slums where crime, prostitution, drugs, Child Abuse and water and airborne diseases is the order of the day, it’s not easy as it may appear before the faces and the thinking of many. With many extended families headed by single parents who most of them are mothers living under one dollar a day, the expectation of the youth and the younger generation is to entirely think of how the ends will meet at that tender age and assist their parents or bed ridden siblings who can’t afford medication or that access to medical facility. The effect of HIV/AIDS and the rising number of orphans left behind by this pandemic has increasingly affected the youth and make their lives difficult since majority of them can’t continue with their education and end up in early marriages or indulge themselves in criminal activities.
The above and many other issues make lives so tough and difficult for youth in consideration of the complexity of their surroundings. Working with such kind of youth, and since its inception, MYSA have been continuously emphasized on proper practice and a positive approach to life which blossom to great generation. Tough and strict measures and policies have been put in place for the larger MYSA family that ensures protection of lives by addressing issues of Child abuse, Anti-Child labour, age cheating, sexual abuse, addressing HIV/AIDS issues are highly observed and followed in Mathare, neighbouring areas within the organization jurisdictions and beyond.
YOUTH RIGHTS PROTECTION
The Development programme under the child protection unit outlined activities included the trainings of volunteers on legal instruments for child protection, child abuse and neglect, networking and linkages in child protection, children rights, children responsibility, and children gender based violence, child participation and child protection policy advocacy.
During the girl’s tournament which was held over the Easter Holiday attracted 67 teams, where the project was officially launched, the same issues were addressed through team discussions, which drew attention to all the issues that are affecting the children and how to go about it through the set referral systems in the organisation, like SMS Counselling and a direct telephone helpline.
There after followed trainings for Mathare United women’s team and the zonal head coaches focusing on the same issues so as to increase awareness and also use the role models to teach their team members in their respective zones. In all this workshops the reporting lines were issued alongside the national child helpline number which is 116.
MYSA being a youth led organisation, we focused of training the Zonal Elected members in this sensitive issues since they are the leaders in their respective zones and we use them to run all the activities and also they lead in upholding MYSA values like in their zones.
The MYSA staffs total to 59 in number thus the training plan was divided into 3 segments to facilitate easier training and favourable environment for class participation since they work directly with the children at the zonal level.
This followed the identification of MYSA major stakeholders who deal directly with this young people to be parents, teachers and the local Government Authority. Training has been conducted for the Government local Authority and the other Training for parents and teachers are yet to commence in the course of the month.
The project was able to establish 2 partnerships with Baraka hospital and Move on Africa and they are also working as referral centres for the organisation where our volunteer can go and get help for free without being charged any fee.
Through community awareness outreach done in the MYSA zones during Annual championships, we managed to reach 800 community members with important messages on child protection, ender based violence and sexual harassment
Zonal head coaches were trained from the 16 MYSA zones.
MYSA staffs were trained with information on Child protection, gender based violence and sexual harassment.
Mathare United Women’s team were trained on gender based violence, child neglect and child protection policy since we use them as trainers o this issues in their respective zones or during community outreaches.
Through the SMS Counselling 210 people were tested.
The department does more advocacy of the child protection policy and health relationship through council meetings, community outreaches, trainings done in the project and major events in the organisation.
Radio Kijiji would have played a major role in disseminating the information, creating awareness and also it would help in community participation. This project is yet suspended coz of funds but it is a very good project that would help the organisation reaches a wider audience all over the country.
On yearly basis the project will continue passing information and increase number of trainings for volunteers, staff, local communities and local Government leaders. This will ensure that majority of members and community leaders are updated and aware of the laws governing protection of children and youth.
MYSA NISHAURI SMS
How MYSA Nishauri SMS counseling is responding to cases on sexual harassment, HIV/AIDS and healthy relationship
Nishauri (“Please advise me”) is a mobile counseling service which seeks to connect youth-at-risk with community health counselors in Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in Nairobi, Kenya. Nishauri enables youth users to submit their own questions about HIV/AIDS, Sexual Transmitted Infections and reproductive health to community health counselors via simple Short Message Service (SMS).
The trained counselors provide credible source of information through Short Messages Services (SMS) where users can explore HIV and AIDS concerns, sexuality and reproductive health issues. Users then receive timely and confidential responses directly on their phones.
In collaboration with Stanford University, MYSA Started the Nishauri sms counseling. We are currently doing the pilot phase of the project. We have received over 150 Short Message Service (SMS) from July 2011 to February 2012, where young people and community members with pressing issues on reproductive health, sexual relationship and HIV/AIDS have sent their questions.
In terms of trainings MYSA trained counselors has responded to all 150 cases/questions asked by providing confidential counseling service. Most MYSA members are aware about the service; we have done publicity and created awareness to community schools and MYSA zones through posters and social network (MYSA face book page) from the smses received, 11 questions on healthy relationship were asked and responded too, 1 case of gender based violence was reported in 2011 and the victim was referred to Medice Sans Frontiers’ (MSF) in Mathare for further counseling and treatment.
MYSA POLICY OF BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT
MYSA has zero-tolerance policies on theft, age cheating, sexual abuse and conflicts of interest. All Major MYSA policies have always been posted to our website and are open to public. We have in partnership with KPMG and PWC reviewed all our policies and we are also developing new ones such as that of whistle blowing. MYSA hasalways applied its zero-tolerance policies whenever there was credible evidence and will continue doing so.
THE HISTORY OF POLICIES
MYSA policies have been in existence for the last 25 years. These policies are reviewed from time to time in order to ensure compliance with the current legal requirements in Kenya. Today MYSA has over 12 different policies which were all reviewed by KPMG and are now been upgraded as part of the development plan created between MYSA and KPMG. Among the policies that are under development are theft policy, sexual harassment, overage cheating, Child Protection, Healthy Relationship, Financial, procurement and the MYSA administration manual. Over the last 26 years, there have been fifteen theft cases, eight age cheating cases, five sexual abuse cases and six misuse of position cases. In 91% of the cases the perpetrators were expelled or fired.
UPGRADING AND AMENDING OF POLICIES
As the organization grows, there is always a need to keep on reviewing the policies to ensure that they are relevant and up to date. We have upgraded a good number of policies and developed new ones which have been approved and already in operation.
A list of Policies, Rules and Manuals per February 2013