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EASTLANDS PROJECT: Not just another training center: Life Transformation!

 eastlands

When asked what the Eastlands Project meant to him, Jeremy Siang’ani  said simply:  “Life transformation!  Eastlands Project is more than just a training centre, it is a “home” of personal development through knowledge and skills acquisition for young men from the neighboring slums. The programmes that run within the Centre promote the students’ personal growth and enable them to realize their full potential.  Apart from just having job training, that is both theoretical and practical, the Centre offers individual mentorship opportunities, career talks and life counseling. This gives the students hope and focus in life.”

On Wednesday, August 1, 2012 the 8 member team of Harambee Ambassadors from Spain, Italy and the United States went to assess the results of the Eastlands Project, a 2012 Harambee grant recipient that serves young men in the slums around Nairobi.

Jeremy directs the Hodari Training Center, an Eastlands Project initiative, in the Western slums and teaches students to repair home appliances, including telephones, computers, radios and microwaves. With over 19 million mobile telephones in Kenya, many communication technicians are urgently needed.  Since over 60% of the population in the area is younger than 25 – large numbers of whom are unemployed – the training offered at Hodari is a coveted education, a big asset.  Education is the secret to breaking the cycle of unemployment and poverty that plagues the area.  The Eastlands Project offers great promise!­­

Another key element of the Eastlands Project is the Informal Sector Business Institute (ISBI).  The ISBI serves Kenya’s “informal sector” that represents nearly 7.5 million workers in kiosks, storefronts and street stands and accounts for nearly 70% of the country’s economy.  ISBI is there to offer subsidized classes in computer skills, life-skills training and basic business management.  Upon successful completion of the basic ISBI courses, participants can apply for technical coursework in electronics, salesmanship and office management.  Jeremy says: “After taking courses at the Centre, many young men are able to engage in more constructive activities for self-employment, further their studies, find work or get better jobs.  That is life changing!”

Before leaving, the Harambee delegates asked Jeremy what Eastlands Project means to him.  “Eastlands Project has made me appreciate life and help others I know to do the same. My dream for the Project is to see it become a tertiary institution that combines theoretical education for the latest technologies with hands-on learning at affordable costs.  This is how we will empower the young to make change in their lives and in the world around them.”

In fact, ISBI has a 10 acre site that awaits new construction for just such a dual-training solution, forging partnerships between students and industry employers, through work-study programs.  The new ISBI site is strategically located – surrounded on one side by the industrial center and on the other by the informal sector with its adjacent slums. What is missing now to make Jeremy’s dream come true is site development with the necessary facilities and equipment.