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children's day

Updated: 2016-05-31 16:00

The first day of June is the International Children’s Day. But children from the Mathare slum, the second largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, have the least impression that there is a special day for them to enjoy.

Inside the slum, there was a Community Based Organization (CBO) for the children, Sejorooney Kid & Youth Talent Center, which was set up in December 2015 by two young men.

Joseph Mwangi, 23, and Dominic Senerwa, 21, both born and grown up in the slum, are the founders of the center.

With poverty all around and violence, drugs and illicit brews, the two young men were thinking of a way out of all these vices and a way to save the children from taking the wrong path.

“All we see here is just desperation in drugs, poverty, and dirty environment,” said Dominic. “If we are able to save even 10 of these boys and girls from their mire, our humble efforts shall have been rewarded.”

Back in 2012, the dual started by setting up the SejoRooney Football Club with the seed money of 5,000 shillings, an equivalence of RMB 35 yuan, of their own. The club used an abandoned public toilet as its office. A back room in the toilet served as a home for the two young men.

The center now takes care of 250 children, 150 boys and 100 girls, from the slum, teaching them football, music and rap.

The age of the children at the club ranges from 5 years old to 18 years old. They get trained in different hours according to different age groups.

The football team of the club is trained on a nearby football ground, which is a piece of ground with two netted goals on two sides and surrounded by wild grass.

TheSejo team won the champion of a community football competition in 2014. As a result, they were rewarded the uniform, which is now used only on some occasions.

On weekend mornings, a group of children, wearing different slippers, on different type of shoes, or even barefoot, will play footballs on the ground.

It is not just football they deal with, the two young men also have a choir and music rehearsals for the girls and boys who aspire towards that field.

“Under certain circumstances, if a child has shown his or her gift, we even recruit the kid at the age of three,” said Dominic.

Jane Apondi, 12, Vivian Atieno, 11, and Roda Winny, 5, are sisters of the same family in the slum. They are gifted in poem reciting and rap performances. While reciting the poem, There is light at the end of the tunnel, composed by the two young men, the girls seem to see the hope of their future.

Another girl, Seline, gave a rap performance, Say no to drugs, Say no to AIDS.

“Sejo Rooney will produce the best musicians and sportsmen in this country,” said Joseph, who is both ambitious and confident.

One of the young boys of the club, gifted in rap and dancing, is from a family of five. The parents have been sick and bed-ridden for a while, unable to take care of their children. They live in a dark room which is less than 9 square meters. The jobless parents of two boys and a girl make money by working as temporary laborers but fail to earn enough to support the family.

The two young men are also temporarymanual laborers in the community who earn an irregular income a month. They both give half of their incomes to help run the club.

At the beginning, they brought some footballs and few sports gear. These have brought much fun for the children and enriched their after-school life.

“Material poverty does not bother us,” said Joseph. “What irks is that here we have nothing to look up to and even when we seek for a new experience, we have no capital, no support.”

The center is now planning a kid’s talent show in August at the open groundin Mathare, aiming to raise 5 million shillings that will be used to purchase a new bus, musical and sports equipment for the kids at the center.

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