Volleyball Creating Change in one of the Toughest Slums in Nairobi
Our local ambassador, Samuel Gacharira, a sports journalist and a former volleyball player in Nairobi, Kenya, has been in volleyball all of his life. Because of volleyball, he got new opportunities to build a better life.
Samuel's biggest motivation for his project is to give other young children in Githurai 45, one of the toughest slums in Nairobi notorious for crime and other social vices, an opportunity for a better life through volleyball.
"Volleyball is a powerful sport that can transform lives. The next volleyball star can come from that slum or challenging neighborhood so let's support those communities around us in our own special ways."
From Samuel's peers, he was the only one successful. The rest of his academy teammates fell along the way. Others went into drugs, crime, and others dropped out of school due to school fees and returned to the slum to do submissive jobs and fend for their families.
"This is when it struck me that talent alone is not enough. Young kids need a support system for them to make something out of their talents. That's why I started our project to mentor kids through volleyball. We have many talented children in this area, and if nurtured and mentored well, they can build a new life through the world of volleyball."
Samuel his Background
Samuel started playing volleyball at the age of eight at Githurai Kimbo in Nairobi. There was no formal training at that young age because the Githurai Kimbo volleyball club was just an amateur club where people, mostly casual laborers, used to gather for training sessions after work.
From there, Samuel continued nurturing his volleyball talent in high school where he was named best libero and best setter in the Nairobi region. After high school, Samuel received a sports scholarship at Strathmore University where the school paid 80% of his fees due to his volleyball talent.
He is a four-time Kenya University champion. Besides this, he also played in Kenya's national league for Cooperative Bank, Nairobi Water, and Kenya Forest Service before retiring early to concentrate on his journalism career.
He also got a call up to the junior national team before he retired. Currently, he works with Nation Media Group, the largest media house in the country, as a Sports sub-editor and Chief Volleyball writer. He also serves in the Media Commission of the Confederation of African Volleyball (CAVB).
Using the Power of Volleyball to build a new life
Samuel's major goal is to train and support players who can impact the youth positively and change the lives of their families through volleyball.
"We are also keen on mentoring our players to strike a balance between education and volleyball so that they can align themselves with opportunities for scholarships and employment."
Samuel explains that through this project, they have changed the reputation of Githurai from a crime area to a place known for developing good volleyball players since youths have now embraced volleyball as a free-time activity.
Another key goal for them is that their players give real testimonies and inspire the generation that comes after them. This is why players usually take charge of training sessions on weekends so that the kids can be inspired by their peers.
One of the biggest challenges they face is resources in terms of equipment. Sometimes there are too many kids and not enough balls and equipment available. At that tender age, they need a lot of time on the ball to learn basic skills such as digging and setting. Clothing is also another problem since some of them train in khaki pants, bare feet, or even in school uniform.
Another challenge is the availability of girls allowed to play volleyball since parents still have fear over their safety due to the reputation of the Githurai area.
The field they train on is owned by Kenya Railways Corporation so they are always under the threat of being evicted anytime since the public should not be on that land.
Another challenge they are facing is managing the transition of players from high school. Especially those who don't do so well in school but are immensely talented. If they don't get employed by military teams they end up being frustrated and resort to doing servile jobs to earn a living and others slip into societal vices such as crime and drug abuse.
Making an Impact
Samuel's favorite memory is when one of their players, Josephat Muchai, was employed by the Kenya Armed Forces due to his volleyball talent. His mum invited them for his graduation dinner and she was extremely grateful for us training her son from a young age, taking him through high school and university through scholarship until he got a good job.
In her thanksgiving speech, she shed a tear as she narrated her son's journey through their academy. She thanked them for helping escape crime and drug abuse. Being a single mum without a permanent job, she also said how the scholarships lifted a huge financial burden from her, enabling her child to go through school.
"He is now in the Kenya national team which is a big honor for our academy."
Another player, Brian Nyabera, recently attended the African Clubs Championship tournament in Tunisia. To see Brian grow to the highest level of African volleyball was very rewarding to their project.
"Our biggest success is securing scholarship opportunities for a majority of our players. Some have gone ahead to join clubs that play in the national league of Kenya and others have landed jobs through volleyball. And for the case of Brian, he is now in the Kenya national team which is a big honor for our academy."
Connection with LKTBF
Samuel was impressed by the impact of the Let's Keep The Ball Flying Foundation in neighboring country Tanzania. Their mission is aligned with LKTBF impacting lives through volleyball.
"I believe with your support Githurai Kimbo volleyball academy will spread its wings further and transform more lives."
For Samuel's project, they could benefit from support in terms of equipment such as balls, nets, shoes, and clothes. Also, they require technical support in terms of coaching. "We are not professional coaches and we just rely on our knowledge of the game as former players."
Would you like to support Samuel and our operations in Africa? Donate on our donation page and designate your contribution to Volleyball 4 Future Africa. Let's keep the ball flying and unlock the power of volleyball!