By Richard Wachira (RVA Field Coordinator)
Kibera Slum Soka Team are a group of young talented footballers in various categories and levels. What they share in common is a difficult background lacking in basic needs such as access to clean water, sanitation, and proper housing. Living in kibera slum further exposes them to a myriad of challenges in health, security and education, which can often project a sense of hopelessness and bleak future. However, the opposite is true about these young kids. Theirs is a life of ambition, hope and endless opportunity. They live to dream.
It started as a day out, meeting the team, playing games and sharing in their story. We visited Slum Soka team in Kibera and had the opportunity to spend a training weekend with them. Their commitment to the team was evident in their effort to learn, train and work together.
They were responsible for they own sports center, in the heart of the slum. At the center of incongruous structures, sewers and pipelines, was a colorful display of a sports center- with bright colors on the walls and an open space, nearly half the size of a football pitch, which they were proud of. This was their gleam of hope in a lopsided world – a level playing field.
Rift Valley Adventures, through engaging with the team, organized a weekend of learning and adventure at our Ol Pejeta Camp, an experience which was the first for most.
From the climbing wall, to Biking and then thanks to our partners at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the students were able to drive into the wilderness, to see Elephant, Buffalo, Lion and Cheetah in their natural habitats, this experience re-defined the boundaries of the students worldview – their ideas about the environment, and certainly their sense of duty towards it.
It became apparent to the students that environmental issues were not just issues that characterized underprivileged backgrounds, but are global issues affecting all of humanity – rich, poor, young and old. Securing natural resources, and conserving the environment was an underpinning role that affects everyone. From banker to engineer, doctor, pilot or professional footballer; all our dreams are tied into this collective role and responsibility, and learning this, extended their sense of purpose and duty towards environmental stewardship.
We trust that these experiences will linger, and that this spark of environmental stewardship will bring these young kids to light up the way for others in their own little way, in kibera and their worlds beyond.