YOVI was formed to prioritize youth empowerment in Kenya. Most youth in Kenya have not been mobilized adequately to participate in their development. A closer observation reveal one of the biggest nightmares witnessed in the country as far as the youth problem is concerned. Youth problem is slowly becoming a ticking time-bomb. The youth are often idle, abuse alcohol and most get recruited into criminal gangs and violence especially at election time. The youth criminal behavior is fired by youth idleness and feelings of apathy. This is compounded by the fact that resources have become minimal including in the high potential areas in Kenya where land has become small due to population pressure and therefore, there is not enough for everyone.
Also most youths in Kenya lack vital information, for example, they lack crucial information necessary for them to remain healthy. Those in Central Kenya, for example, lack information on the effects of alcohol abuse on their health. They also fail to visualize the link between alcohol abuse and HIV infections. Young people from as young as age13 are being reported to have contracted HIV infection in places where we are working. Alcohol abuse puts them at risk of HIV infections.
Youth in school and out of school in Kenya are also lagging behind in terms of effective leadership and life skills. The boy child in particular is marginalized and is performing poorly in school and dropping out of school especially in Central Kenya. Available statistics indicate that girls in Central Kenya are doing better in school while the boy is lagging behind. The boy child is engaged in alcohol and drug abuse, criminal behavior and is at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Our thematic focus therefore puts emphasis on promotion of healthy living and entrepreneurship development.
YOVI Strategies and approaches
One of our key strategies and approaches is the Healthy Living Campaign (HEALCAM). The campaign has evolved into the “Multiple Program” and is our flagship program. The Multiple Program entails firstly mass campaigns where youth are mobilized and reached through sports. Facilitators and counselors educate the youths through these mass sporting campaigns.
The Multiple program also entails the identification and training of Ambassadors of change (AOCs). The use of AOCs is a youth-centered model whereby the local community (mainly churches, chiefs and sub-chiefs, football clubs) identify the good youth whom we train to reach out and educate the others including during sports activities where they do one-to-one counseling to spectators and players. The AOCs are instrumental in peer counseling, life skills counseling and life counseling. The AOCs have been trained on facts on Alcohol and drug abuse, facts on HIV/AIDS, community mobilization, Community / Leadership skills, participatory approaches, peer-to-peer communication, monitoring and evaluation. They reach out to others even at home, in churches, at markets and shopping centers, tea buying centers, during weddings, funerals, literary anywhere in the community. They do one to one counseling and group therapies.
In working with AOCs, we use the AVAL model. The AVAL model is a mobilization and planning tool where the youth Ambassadors of Change (AOCs) are facilitated to:
- Analyze and understand the behavior/attitudes of fellow youths in their villages.
- Visualize on the positive behavior they wish to see in their fellow youths.
- Take Actions geared towards bringing positive change in their fellow youths
- Meet to Learn from the actions and possibly see where to improve activities.
Our Multiple Program also includes a mentorship program for in-school youth where a counselor works with them with a focus on life counseling with emphasis on key pillars thus:
- facts on alcohol and drug abuse,
- facts on HIV/AIDS,
- how to manage peer pressure,
- how to relate well with parents
- how to excel in school.
- The fear of God (Godly values as protective elements)
Our Multiple Program also incorporates parents and the focus is to enable effective communication between parents and their youth so parents can effectively support, counsel and guide their youth in respect to alcohol and drugs abuse. We hold combined forums for parents and youth and particularly counsel the parents on their role in the process. We also have high school forums where youth in high school come together during school holidays and are counseled on life skills, how to avoid alcohol and drug abuse and how to excel in school.
The Multiple Program has also incorporated the use of educative artistic murals bearing messages on dangers of alcohol abuse and facts on HIV/AIDS. The mural attracts the attention of many people daily particularly the youth.
The Multiple program also incorporates civic education and environmental conservation to enable youth participate in development activities in the County.
Our other program is the Business Development Program whereby YOVI trains youths on business skills using the International Labor Organization (ILO) packages thus; Generate Your Business Idea (for those who wish to start a business), Start and Improve Your Business (that include writing business plans) and Improve Your Business (for those who already have businesses and want to have them improved).
YOVI anticipates to reach out to youth in most parts of Kenya. However, currently, our priority focus are the youth in Central Kenya. Youth in this part of the country have not been adequately mobilized and empowered to participate in their own development. Most are lost in alcohol and drugs abuse while others have proscribed to illegal criminal gangs.