Life for 27-year-old Innocent Onsare turned for the worst after being thrown out of his home by his parents for engaging in alcoholism and substance abuse after joining a youth grouping composed of his fellow age mates in his Kianda estate in the vast Kibera slums. Jobless and without an income, Innocent ran into the wrong side of the law and was arrested.
Fed up with the way things were panning out, Onsare joined Kibera Youth Self Help Group (KYSHG) after his friends encouraged him. The group was formed in 2001 by a group of 60 jobless youth . Most of the members pulled out of the group to join the public transport sectors as touts and only 20 active members soldiered on in the group.
Initially, the group started off with solid waste management within their estate in Kianda. Things turned around for the fledgling group when Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) granted it Ksh. 120,000 (US$ 1,791) to support their activities.
“We saw this as an opportunity to expand the scope of our activities and we explored other areas like car-washing, carpet cleaning, theatre, support for orphans and vulnerable children as well as sports”, says Onsare.
A further funding from KCDF amounting to 240,000 (US$ 3,582) saw the group acquire an additional waste management site at Kambi Muru to supplement their only site at Kianda. From the two sites, the group produces manure, plastics and scrap metal that generate income for the group.
The group now has substantial income accrued from their activities which has translated to improved lives for the youth in the area. The group now employs close to 40 youths from Kibera.
“On a monthly basis, we get an average of Ksh.190,000 (US$ 896) from selling manure, waste plastic and scrap metal from the waste management project and another Ksh. 40, 000 (US$ 597) from car wash services’, says a jolly Onsare.
This has enabled the once dejected youths to become entrepreneurs hence become self sufficient.