COVID-19: Situation for the youth in the slums of Kenya

As one of our local NGO partners reports from Langas, Eldoret in Kenya: ” (…) cases of indiscipline, drugs, and substances abuse have been on the rise in the slums in the past months. Even amongst school children, the negative influence of extended lockdowns where schools were closed during the Covid-19 pandemics is very tangible. Many young adults and children were influenced to sell and use drugs, and as a result, many children performed very poorly in schools.”

Unhealthy relationships and poor decision-making among the youths and children is an issue of concern. Therefore, doing something against the unsecured and depressing mental health situation is vital.

The necessity to form mentorship clubs for youths and children in the Langas Slum

Our local Partnering NGO SOLASA has reacted to the situation and, with the support of our Making More Health initiative, started to change the hostile setting.

“To keep the youth positively engaged and due to the need to reach many, we use football games. Thus, we were able to reach out to the youth and children to educate and equip them with knowledge and skills that will enable them to deal with life challenges amicably and stay healthy, especially during this time of Covid-19,” says Elizabeth, the local NGO leader.

During the mentorship sessions, the participants exchange experiences about some of the challenges they go through. Very young boys and girls disclose that they have been abused sexually or have been victims of violence. They report alcohol abuse, even starting in the early morning to drink – what is called “Kutoa Lock” means removing the lock what means they cannot function well without taking some drugs or alcohol.The question of poverty is described as a push factor that forces young girls to sell sex for food, sanitary towels and to enable themselves to buy some basic things for themselves. Some young men and boys also confess to trading sex for survival, often also forced by third parties.

Informal mentorship sessions help to talk about it

In the mentorship session, the focus is on raising Self-awareness and Self-acceptance, learning about healthy relationships, and informing about COVID-19 prevention measures. Also, menstrual hygiene and management are on the agenda. More topics will be added, among others, on stages in life, decision making and being assertive, family planning for children and youth, and sexual gender-based violence)

“With this program, we can reach over 300 children and youth through SOLASA tournament which attracted 22 teams for boys and girls and ran for five days. Sessions are conducted during breaks and while out waiting for their turn to play. The sessions are facilitated by SOLASA social workers who are being assisted in managing the tournament by the coaches. Being a school holiday and schools being closed, we are having many children participating in these activities.

„The last time three winning teams both for boys and girls were awarded trophies and all participating teams were given certificates of participation. One trophy was donated by a student from the UK University of Liverpool who visited our organization and was very excited to see Kenyan girls playing football. She is researching pollution and clean energy, and SOLASA is helping her do this research in Langas. She learnt about SOLASA from the MMH website,” explains Elizabeth.

In the past two years, during our partnership with SOLASA, some good basic health awareness programs and activities have taken place. And also, a Health center is under construction.