It’s Saturday midday walking along Korogocho slum’s street, sound after sound inside the clubs and barbershops popular known as (Kinyozi in Swahili), people are busy with their own business in a slum estimated about to 300,000 residents, here is where I meet Samuel Wachira. Wachira was a street boy who dropped out of school and joined a local gang as a thief. But skate- boarding changed his life. The sport gave him confidence. He has gone back to school.
”When I first raced, I was number one and then won three medals. That is when I realized skating could transform my life and help my parents,” said Samuel while listening to Elephant Man, one of the big hit ragga stars, he is a member of Hope Raisers skating club. The Hope Raisers Initiatives is a community sports project structured to offer mentor ship and out reach programs to children and young people living in Korogocho using roller skating and other forms of urban arts expression. It keeps them fit and off the streets. The group nurtures creative talent and uses sports as a tool for violence prevention. More than 40 youth from Korogocho whose ages range from six to 21 years are involved weekly. The founders were in-sired by their own upbringing in the slum. “Hope Raisers skating club is a place where young people come to act out their dreams. Skating is easy to learn, keeps them fit and keeps them off the street,” says Daniel Onyango the founder of the group. “It also creates a road map for success and makes it happen through interacting with others, sharing life experience, learning roller skating skills for positive social transformation,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter if you are from the slum, if you are determined and hardworking you can actually make it in life. This is focus,” he explained. Korogocho, a slum with 300, 000 people is one of the most insecure slums in Nairobi. Muggings and robberies take place at any time of the day. Because of its good road network, some criminals rob people using motorbikes which provide a quick escape. We have great imagination want to use sports as tool to reflect on major societal issues to combat exclusion, delinquency, and violence, to fight in difference, intolerance and all forms of discrimination, to raise awareness, change the way people think about the youth, develop critical thinking to work to make our communities and the world a better place,’’ he said. So far the project has run on donations from the well-wishers. Most of the equipment is secondhand. They don’t have enough skates, so kids have to share. “These kids are the future of Korogocho and if we are able to invest in them and train them basic life skills and give them hope that will be one of the alternatives of fighting crime in our area,’’ Onyango said. Established in 2005 in Korogocho slum and registered in 2007 as a community arts organization, the architects of the Initiative share the passion of creating a safer community that provide opportunity to all for sustainable developments using a neighborhood approach. Although skating is not a popular sport in the country only perceived as a sport for the affluent, Hope Raisers has given it a new perspective. Residents say they feel the streets are safer since roller skating was introduced in the neighborhood. The group was invited to take part in the ‘I am a city Changer campaign’ by the UN in June “The neighborhood approach makes it possible to deal with youth at risk in an integrated manner, the group says. It al-lows for a deeper understanding the appreciation of the particular needs and aspirations of the interchangeability in Korogocho, including the way they see life shaped by their experiences, which may not necessarily be the same as other neighborhoods of Nairobi,” said Onyango. Above all, the approach allows us to contextualize Korogocho as the place where young people socialize. It provides an opportunity to influence how social relations in the community take place by its physical, social features and geographic localizations. The safer community of opportunity model is the basis for applying the neighbor-hood approach through sports, arts and culture in Korogocho. Samuel is now an inspiration to the kids of his neighborhood. He took part in the National qualifiers and quailed for the Africa competition taking place later this year. This is an example of how investment in sports can change lives.