By Calvince Otieno
Last Saturday saw over 400 youth and community members, mostly street families, from the Majengo area in Nairobi took part in a sizzling football tournament dubbed “kicking off crime and drug addiction from society” at St John’s Community Center in Pumwani.
Organized by Street Changers CBO in partnership with Crime Si Poa and other community-focused organizations, the event was aimed at creating awareness of social issues affecting young people in the city.
Young people from the area hitherto infamous for social vices including radicalization had an opportunity to showcase their talent in singing, dancing, and acrobatics. The community also benefitted from free guidance and counseling services at the Crime Si Poa tent and a medical camp by CheckUps Medical Center.
‘’The health of these children matters, and as an organization, we have today decided to offer free medical checkups so that if one is found ill, he or she can start medication as early as possible,’’ said Dorcas Saina, Marketing Officer, CheckUps Medical Center.
According to Ruth Wambui, Project Officer Crime Si Poa, the tournament came at a time when most young people in the community are facing a myriad of challenges, ranging from, unemployment, drug and substance use, mental health issues, crime, as well as sexual and gender-based violence.
“Apart from ensuring we keep sane and fit; the event creates awareness of the effects of crime and substance use, especially among street families. We are also here to avail services such as counseling to help build better mental health among young people,” said Ruth, adding “A great way to spread awareness about mental health is by engaging in events in your community such as this tournament to learn more and connect with others.”
Ruth further urged young people to speak out against sexual and gender-based violence in the community.
Speaking at the event, Thomas Lindi from Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) cautioned the youth especially members of the street families against consuming tobacco substances, warning of their adverse effects on health.
‘’Smoking tobacco causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also increases the risk of tuberculosis. Young people, please keep away from tobacco substances,’’ Lindi pleaded.
Three teams, Pumwani Football Club, Young Achievers, and Zero Street participated in the tournament with the hosts Pumwani emerging as the winners after defeating Zero Street 2- 1 in the finals. The winners and runners-up were all rewarded with a new ball and trophy while the third-placed team got a trophy.
The Crime Si Poa street families project is aimed at the holistic reformation, rehabilitation of, and reintegration into the society of street children and is ably supported by the Schooner Foundation.