Imagine being a young person living in the slums of Nairobi …
This is how life was described to us by the guardian of one of our sponsored children.
Work is hard to come by, so people live a hand to mouth existence.
Most adults have no regular income, and average earnings are $1 a day. In this case, the boy’s guardian had to feed a family of eight after paying the $20-a-month rent. In these circumstances, it is almost impossible to survive, let alone afford luxuries like schooling, so many children never get to finish their education.
COVID-19 has added to that, taking away opportunities to earn a living, where no work means no food. Life just got even tougher.
And young people are especially vulnerable to bad influences – drugs, glue sniffing, gangs, crime, and prostitution. These can be made to seem like a lucrative alternative to studying – especially when schools have been closed for almost nine months.
There’s little opportunity to take part in organised sport or exercise, so cycling is one healthy alternative, and a chance to see the world beyond the slums.
The Raila Education Centre is the only school in Kenya with its own cycling club. Set up by The Red Rubber Ball Foundation, the cycling club teaches children to ride, join rides and learn bike maintenance and repairs.
We have just one rule – students must attend school regularly to join the club. Once there, they learn practical and personal skills. They learn to problem solve and take initiative. They share kit and work together to maintain the bikes and keep each other safe. And they make new friends, both in school and by joining rides with other enthusiasts.
School Principal, Mr Paul Ojera says, “These kids are now at the forefront in class, asking questions. Their confidence has grown”.
And school pupil and club member Esther reports, “So now if we are free at home, we don’t have time to walk around in bad company”.
Cycling gives children a chance of a different life.
You can support the work of The Red Rubber Ball Foundation to maintain and expand cycling clubs in Kenya by donating here.