GlobalGiving Listening Tour in Guatemala

This is where Robert and I will be traveling the week of May 24-31, 2009. Follow us on twitter and also at www.globalgiving.org/inthefield. It is our next “Listening Tour.”

What is a listening tour? That’s when you travel and report on what you see and hear to others. Yesterday Leah Ambwaya did a really good one about her visit to an orphanage / sports program in Kenya. Leah wrote:
“We arrived in Kisumu to a warm morning, Wycliff Mboya the director of Sacreena was at the Moi stadium kisumu with a group of youngsters. They were all milling around, some in sports jerseys and boots, other bare footed, others in casual wear, it was about 120 of them. There was a mixture of excitement and confusion, a matatu was hovering around blaring some popular Kenya tunes by nameless ( salary oooooh !! oo!!! , salary oooooh !! oo!! ) this tune is very popular with young people in Kenya, because it talks about joblessness among Kenyan youths. Some of the boys were boarding the matatu while others just hovered around lazily.

After introducing ourselves to Mboya and our purpose for the visit, he insisted that we must talk to the youths, he told us that they were headed for Uganda for a tournament so we should take as little time as possible, however he gathered the boys together we were able to introduce ourselves and our mission. We could clearly see that, this boys besides participating in the football tournament, they had no idea what else Sacreena does, all they knew is that they go to the stadium daily to play football, they hope against hope that when the national clubs are scouting around for younger players they could just be among the lucky ones and that is their happiness.

We talked to Mwangi a 16 year old orphan who dropped out of school in form four due to lack of school fees. We sought his permission to record this discussion on tape, to which he consented. I quote “my name is Mwangi, I started playing for this project ( sacrena) in 2008, I play full back. I dropped out of school this year due to lack of school fees, I was in form four, I do not have any hope of going back to school since my two elder brothers are unemployed and can not help at all. I come for practice twice a day on a daily basis (morning and evening).

This project keeps me busy and also keeps me away from getting myself into a lot troubles like doing drugs and other antisocial things that many young people get into due to desperation. I don’t even know if I will ever go back to school, the chances are very minimal.” Are you aware that the project pays school fees for orphans? The answer was in the negative, all he knew was that the project provided any avenue for him to keep way from unnecessary trouble, it keeps his mental capacities up to date and he hopes that one day somebody will recognize his potential and take him back to school on a sports scholarship are recruit him in the Kenya national league tournament. For Mwangi , this is a hunting ground for opportunities.

We sought to know if he has had any training in peer counseling and he said No. “Our director is very secretive, I wish he could tell us what is happening in the project, we just see a lot of visitors come and go, then we are assembled here at the stadium to meet the visitors and that is all.” We don’t even go to the office or help out with any work at the office. As much as we have been offered the opportunity to join the team, we also have our own challenges with the club, but we are not given a chance to express ourselves, if you do then you are kicked out of the club. This project can help the youth more, if we can be given some roles to play” .Does the director listen to you? You can’t dare speak, you will be kicked out. However, Mwangi affirms that some of them had travelled to Tanzania for a tournament some time last year.

Note: In this particular project we are forced not to use real names for fear of victimization of the interviewees. However we have the recorded interviews on tape with the actual names.’

This postcards is good because it shows both the benefits (kids getting sports, staying out of trouble) and the problems (kids wanting school fees paid, founder that is secretive) of an organization. It starts a dialogue rather than clamp down on issues until they explode. I picked up the phone today and had a long chat with the founder. He is going to reach out to a similar organization and go through a mentorship process on administration. He is getting an american volunteer to help. And he is going to encourage the youth to use Twitter and Email to talk openly about what they want from Sacrena. Mere promises, yes, but improvement all the same.

Guatemala Listening Tour:

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