Youth as Changemakers in Kenya: The Story of MuYI and Mukuru

Founded by young people, and led by young people, this is how MuYI in Kenya have succeeded socio-economically.

Mukuru Youth Initiative (MuYI) is a youth-founded and youth-led community building a society that is free from social vices and young people who are focused on seeing the community develop socio-economically.  

Youth Time spoke to MuYI Executive Director, Nelmo Munyiri who shares more on the organisation’s work, key programmes and how it helps young tackle unemployment and engage in policies impacting their wellbeing.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the organisation’s mission is to nourish the seeds of knowledge, art and innovation within the hearts of the youth, being a thriving tree, shading all cultures of our community, and eventually bear the fruits of a unified, developed and successful community.

Being one of the biggest informal settlements in Nairobi, MuYi joins Youth Time in highlighting organisations working for youth around the world.


Offering A Solution

MuYi is home to over 700,000 people living in congested, iron sheet houses. Within the high population the biggest population are young people with over 70% of the population being under 35 years.

Munyiri explains that the unemployment among the young population is high, hence a rise in social vices such as crime, drug abuse, early pregnancies and prostitution.

“Acknowledging this we were motivated to be part of the solution since all the founding MuYI members were born or raised in Mukuru. 

“We wanted to create a platform for young people to express themselves, challenge leaders, showcase talent and use this space as a source of income from both internal and external communities,” he says.


MuYI HUB and MuYi Festival

Munyiri further elaborates for our readers the MUYI Hub, and Mukuru Festival – two very important initiatives.

MuYI HUB is a space in Mukuru Kwa Reuben one section of Mukuru, the hub is a space that comprises a music recording studio, video and photography studio, recreational hall, dance studio, office spaces and information centre with an internet connection. 

They set the hub up to create a space to grow art and be able to provide both opportunities for growth and income generating and also a safe space for young people within the community.

MuYI HUB receives about 100 young people per day seeking different services and sometimes just coming to spend their day at the hub. 

The hub also creates a space for young people to have dialogues and conversation regarding issues affecting them as well as air come up with solutions.


Mukuru Festival

Mukuru Festival is one of the biggest festivals within MuYI’s setup, founded in 2013 as Mukuru Awards; it is an event that gave birth to Mukuru Youth Initiative and the MuYI HUB. 

The Mukuru Awards was seeking to appreciate different young people and local organisations based in Mukuru changing the community through different arts formats and talents hence encouraging more. 

MuYI and Mukuru
Dance With Me: The Mukuru Festival in full swing

In 2015, Mukuru Awards gave birth to MuYI and later on we changed the name from Mukuru Awards to Mukuru Festival, where apart from just awarding change makers, they wanted to create a space for all creatives to showcase their work to the community. 

The festival is usually an annual event with eight days’ activities that brings all creatives and young people in Mukuru (Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Mukuru Kayaba, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Viwandani) and other informal settlement outside Mukuru on one platform to showcase, express, advocate and market their work. 

Mukuru Festival celebrates the positive side of Mukuru and it has seen Mukuru change to a safer community and young people starting other different satellite activities and events happening all around the year in the community.


COVID-19 and Other Challenges

It almost goes without saying that these two initiatives, and not only, were impacted by COVID-19 pandemic spread.

How did MuYi adjust to this new challenging situation, as pandemic restrictions meant that the organisation could not carry out activities as it used to.

“We closed our HUB for some time and for the first time in seven years we could not host our annual Mukuru Festival. 

“However, we fully participated in sensitizing the community on COVID-19 and we received support to set up our studio in order to create more musical materials and be able to sensitize the community more effectively,” Munyiri describes this period.

Also, with people moving to online meeting; this has meant that they interacted with other young people across the world.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 pandemic is not the only challenge faced.

Youth in Kenya face unemployment and lack of participation in governance.


MuYI Impact

Fortunately, MuYI helps youth in both these obstacles. This is how.

Increasing Employment

Through the MuYI HUB, the organisation supported creatives to build their art as a career hence creating a career for them and other young people. 

Running of the MUYI HUB and all MUYI activities are 100% run by young people meaning they have created employment entirely within MUYI. 

With working from home measure, we created a space where young people can come in and do their personal work. 

They fully equipped the space with internet and there are rooms for people doing art.

Engaging in Policies Impacting Youth

Through MuYI’s civic engagement pillar, they have been at the forefront of making sure that young people understand their role in putting leaders into account, their roles and understanding their roles and responsibilities as citizens.

MuYI also makes sure they participate and engage in formulating policies that affect young people.

MuYI supports youth, and this could go both ways. MuYI accepts all donations in cash or in kind, in case you would like to donate anything eg, electronics, musical instruments, computers, or anything else that would impact its work.

You too can donate HERE!

Stay updated with MuYI wonderful work via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube as well as their website

From MuYI to Global Giving, there are so many inspirational stories for us to share.

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