‘Because I Count’ focuses on engaging young people in inter-faith dialogue with a focus to prevent the effects of religious marginalisation. The project works primarily with Christian and Muslim youth to address stereotypes and religious intolerance that is often expressed through violence and acts of terrorism extremism. The project works to promote joint actions among youth of these two faiths that seek to counter violent religious extremism. At this initial stage of implementing the project, focus is on creating a safe and empowering space and environment at the YMCA project sites that enables young people to have dialogue among themselves and with their respective religious leaders on issues affecting them. Including their risk to being radicalised. Added to this during implementation, the project activities shall aim to equip young men and women with skills for advocacy and campaigning to enable them to generate joint actions to promote peace and prevent religious marginalisation among their peers and in the community.
Between 26 July – 4 August 2017, Kenya YMCA engaged in training youth with small businesses on Finance management skills with the concept of Table banking of Village Savings and Loan Association. The Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) was formed so as to enable men, women and youth in the community to be able to save and easily borrow loans among themselves for different purposes. This has empowered people in the community immensely. It is sometimes difficult for low income earners to get soft loans from banks and other lending institutions. This is where VSLA’s concept comes in to enable group members to borrow money in the form of loans and pay them at low interest rates.
Apart from this, once a group is formed, the members are able to meet and during the meetings, they are able to discuss on issues affecting their communities. These types of platforms promotes the YMCA idea of Powerspace where youth in these groups can be empowered with information, and further trained with various skills and later connected to existing opportunities that will expand their businesses.
The training was conducted for 3 days in each of the centres and 80 youth were trained.
Hassan Kalama a participant in the Kilifi Branch, shared that he was very happy he had made the time to attend the training as he was convinced that being in the group would help him save and boost his business. He expressed hope that a similar training would be done where he would invite his wife so that she could equally gain the knowledge that he had gained from the training.
Source: Miriam Otieno – Kenya YMCA