By Chandni Khan, YES 2010-2011, Kenya, hosted by AFS in Indiana
Recognized to be the world’s largest service event, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is a weekend in April set aside to promote youth in volunteerism. Millions of youth around the world work together in formulating ways of improving their communities. Courtesy of AFS Kenya, GYSD has also been introduced to the youth in Kenya. The growing culture of volunteerism in the country is augmented by such events, and the YES alumni in the country are one of the major pioneers of the event.
For GYSD 2016, the YES AFS alumni from the Nairobi chapter took the initiative of organizing a street clean up in the Kariobangi North region of the city. Kariobangi is a low-income neighborhood that has been neglected in many ways, leading to sanitation and other infrastructure issues. The YES alumni have an existing project in the area--working with children at the Hands of Love Primary School – and felt the need to expand their community service boundaries by contributing to a street clean up. In addition to clearing dirt from the streets, this initiative was aimed at encouraging cleanliness and proper waste disposal for the local communities in the region.
The idea worked! Over 25 alumni showed up at the event, accompanied by volunteers and local office staff including National Director Mr. Athman Lali and Mr. Hemed Seif, the Program Coordinator. Local community members joined in with zeal as they grabbed on to brooms and rakes to clean up the streets. In total, over 200 people showed their support and contributed their efforts to this Global Youth Service Day cleanup. The areas cleaned include Githembe, Kariobangi Landmark, Light Industry Area, and public field circle. There were some challenges, such as handling resistance from local authorities and some community members, but these were all learning opportunities for alumni and challenges they were willing to accept for the betterment of society. With this success, the alumni hope to keep creating awareness of waste management as they work on pioneering a major project on this theme.
The GYSD event in Nairobi was pioneered by two key alumni- the Alumni Coordinator, Christine Odera, and Anthony Mulanzia, who has had previous success with a sanitation project in Embu, Kenya. The Coca Cola Company, Nairobi, sponsored the event by providing refreshments for all the volunteers. Additional sponsorship was received from the Korokocho Slum Child Foundation.
GYSD showed us there's a clear demand and interest in volunteerism from the communities. The need for promoting the essence of volunteering and creating opportunities is necessary in every community and the YES AFS Kenya alumni are committed to creating that realization in Kenyan society.