Amani, 12-year-old boy

Happy smiling image of Amani, beneficiary of Mukuru Angaza

“You are useless!” These are the words that sting into Amani’s ears almost on a daily basis since he was 7 years old. Most children his age get adequate 7 to 8 hours sleep, but for Amani that is all foreign to him. He goes to bed after midnight and is woken up at around 4am. everyday. Growing up in a slum as an orphan under the care of his Grandparents that see him as nothing less than a domestic servant to tidy up the house and thereafter sent on errands, before leaving for school at 6am. Ironically Amani means peace in swahili, but Amani has never known peace in his life. He is hopeless on achieving much at school, where he is constantly sent back home because of school fees shortage. He has no recreational facilities in the proximity to help him get some peace and even reconnect to himself. The role models surrounding him are school dropouts, drug/substance/alcohol abusers and all he is familiar to, is the slum he grew up in. When he steps out once in a while he is greeted by judgmental eyes and this keeps him coming back into his shell. He loves television and when he was still young he used to dream of being the face on the screen or holding the camera, but slowly this dream is fading away. This is the same narration for most children growing up in Mukuru Slum in Kenya.

As a result, the children and youths end up dropping out of school. Those who manage to go through to secondary and universities, they are discriminated. Majority live a life of hopelessness which leads to depression.
Depression causes youth to be vulnerable to falling victim to drug/substance and/or alcohol abuse often leading to addiction as well as criminal/gang activities. Chances to break the vicious circle of poverty are limited. This leaves youth with no hope for the future.

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