In a small boardroom in Naivasha town we sat and listened to the local youth group, the Flying Eagles, and their initiatives within the community. The group formed after the 2009 post-election violence in an effort to maintain peace in a region split between tribal lines. Since that time they had set up a number of new projects to improve the lives of the people in the region. Despite their descriptions of the challenges they faced, it was their success stories that were most memorable.
One of their major areas of focus is waste management- the collection, sorting, and conversion of waste material generated in the community into useable products. This project has created a number of jobs for the at-risk youth in the community, many of whom were described as “scavengers” and lacking inspiration. They are thought of as the lost youth and the common perception is “if you don’t succeed in your education, you don’t have a future”. The Flying Eagles do not believe that these people should be forgotten- giving them new purpose and inspiration- not unlike the materials they are collecting. Their work within the community using and leveraging what was available to them teaches us an important lesson- impactful change can be made by a small group of powerless people. And, in the words of the Flying Eagles, “if we don’t step in who will?”
By: Patrick Mugabe and Sevan Boudakian (MMASc in Global Health Systems in Africa Candidates) and Erika Freeman (Collaborative Program in Global Health Systems Candidate)