Location and general information
The Mathare area is one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa and home to around half a million adults and children. Over 70% are hardworking single mothers and their children, whose fathers have died or have abandoned their family. One of the problems in providing help to Mathare and other slums is that there are so few studies and facts available. When the United Nations collects statistics they use only two categories, urban and rural. The slums with their urban poor are hidden inside the urban statistics; just as the slums are a hidden part of the city, so few visitors ever see them. Yet in Nairobi and many other big cities in Africa, more than half the population lives in slums. The highest levels of unemployment, crime and illiteracy can be found in the slums.
The Mathare and neighbouring slums are densely populated and all around there is uncollected rubbish, human waste and blocked drainage systems. As a result, chronic diseases such as malaria, cholera, tuberculosis and dysentery are easily spread, and outbreaks wreak havoc among the population living in the slums.
Sickness and death is the greatest concern for those working to support Mathare. People cannot afford proper health treatment due to limitations in the health services available. Water is also a big problem in the Mathare slums and neighbouring areas. Clean water is sold in 10-20 litre containers and some people struggle to afford these. The use of dirty water causes infections and diseases.
In Mathare and the surrounding areas young people and children under 18 years old are the most likely group to contract HIV/AIDS or get caught up in crime, drugs or alcohol. The factors behind this include a lack of education, a lack of income-generating opportunities, and cultural norms and practices that limit their opportunities to benefit from social and economic development. Alcohol abuse has also contributed significantly to the increase in numbers of young people having unprotected sex, which in turn has increased the number of sexually transmitted infections.
The Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) is a community development organisation that uses sports to engender broad socio-economic development, while also effecting positive social change. Founded in 1987 as a self-help youth sport and community development organisation, MYSA has, to date, grown to be the largest youth sport and community development organisation in Africa. Over 1,500 football teams are registered, playing over 15,000 league matches a year in over 16 communities (zones) covering 11 sub-counties in Nairobi County. This means there are over 25,000 young people signed up as members. MYSA is recognised as an example of excellence within the sport and development world, especially in addressing social issues.
MYSA has continued to use sports activities, particularly football, as innovative and effective ways to get young people involved in helping themselves and their communities. In addition, over the years the organisation has expanded its activities to include other sports, arts and culture, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, health education, photography, youth rights, youth employability, leadership awards, a leadership academy programme and community libraries. The organisation has also replicated the MYSA model in Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, as well as in Botswana, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda. In total, the organisation has directly impacted over 200,000 young people over a period of 30 years.
One of MYSA’s most distinctive qualities is the fact that it is owned and managed by the young people themselves and that it is genuinely a community-driven organisation, with the average age of the MYSA officials, volunteer leaders and coaches being just 15-16 years old. But despite their age, these young leaders have benefited from MYSA programmes and have amazing enthusiasm, dedication and drive to continue the work of the organisation.
- Encourage peace-building by increasing the participation of young people in sports.
- Produce effective and efficient sports administrators and leaders through training courses.
- Create partnerships with local and international schools, colleges and other institutions.
- Create learning opportunities for players through local and international youth exchange programmes and raise awareness about disability issues within the community.
- Ensure that the community members living in Mathare and neighbouring slums are aware of the importance of environmental conservation and contribute toward fighting climate change.
- Improve the quality of local playing fields in order to reduce injuries during MYSA activities.
- Document all MYSA activities, design and publish MYSA brochures, newsletters and an annual report.
- Registration of teams and members, where mutual understanding and friendship is cultivated.
- Election via a democratic process of 144 leaders who can coordinate the leagues in the 16 zones.
- Engagement of young people in football leagues and building their environmental awareness while providing safe spaces for them to discuss and enhance peace in their communities.
- Equip young leaders from the leagues with both football and life skills, as well as building their capacities in different areas, including photography, coaching and refereeing, among others.
- Bringing the top achievers from the 16 zones together to share their best practices, enabling them to bond and learn from each other.
- Both teams and players will earn points for actively and successfully completing a scheduled community service activity (which could be, among other things, opening up the closed sewerage system, levelling the playing fields, cutting grass or planting trees).
- Registration of 1,850 teams and over 26,900 members.
- Over 10,000 matches played and all statistical reports provided.
- Election of leaders in league committees, sports, community service and executive councils.
- 72 sports, community service and executive council meetings.
- Annual MYSA championship and film festival.
- Engage 22 personnel in the implementation of the project activities.
- 32 clean-up activities, building a tree nursery and more than 600 trees planted.
- Develop and repair two playing fields a month.
- Transport clean up equipment for all 32 scheduled community service activities.
- Increase environmental awareness in all 16 MYSA zones.
- Treat all injuries arising from activities related to the sports leagues.
- Establish four new partners to support the activities.
- Offer 24 activities, two a month for children with disabilities.
- Two local and one international educational tour for children with disabilities.
- Purchase stationery, sports and communication equipment and materials.
- Train 72 members and young leaders on environmental issues, film and photography.
- Four media briefings and a press conference.
- Two local and one international tournament and exchange programme.
- Report to the UEFA foundation after six months (interim report) and at the end of the year (final report).