KENYA: AOSK Launches Second Phase of Youth Empowerment Program, Charges Administrators to Seize Opportunity

By Paschal Norbert

NAIROBI, JANUARY 16, 2024 (CISA) – The Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) has launched the second phase of the Sisters Led Youth Empowerment Initiative (SLYI) program, which focuses on expanding provisions of quality technical skills and services to disadvantaged and vulnerable youth across the country in an elaborate ceremony held at the Savelberg Retreat Center, Nairobi, on January 14, 2024.

According to Sr Mary Mwayi, FSSJ, the AOSK-SLYI Project Manager, the one-of-a-kind program that is funded by the Conrad Hilton Foundation was started in 2021 with a pilot program for one year to determine the viability and success of the project.

“After the implementation of the pilot and realization of its achievements, it formed the proposal development for the first phase, which was implemented between the years 2022 and 2023. It was a two-year program for the first one. In the first phase, we were able to collaborate with 36 technical institutions that are run by the sisters and the brothers. The ones that were run by the brothers and the priests were seven, and the rest are the technical institutions that are headed by the sisters. One of the achievements for the first phase was that we were able to provide scholarships for 502 youth in the various technical institutions,” says Sr Mwayi in an interview with CISA.

The AOSK-SLYI program is implemented by offering entrepreneurship training and psychosocial support to vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in Sister-led Technical Training Institutions (TTIs) and has now grown to include other institutions run by religious brothers and priests.

Speaking at the event, which also saw the commissioning of 50 TTI administrators and the launch of the SLYI training manual developed by Tangaza University College that will equip trainers with practical skills in handling youth, Sr Mwayi advanced that the funding of the second phase of the project will enable AOSK to increase the scope of the program, which is currently present in 36 TTIs to 50 and from 18 Catholic dioceses to 21.

“Dear administrators you are privileged to have been chosen as the second cohort of this program and I hope that you will make good use of this opportunity. Let us open our institutions to the vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in our communities so that they can acquire skills for self-sustainability and improved livelihood,” she said.

Ms Emily Maina, the Director of Youth Social Development at the State Department for Youth Affairs and the chief guest of the day, elaborated on the spirit of partnerships between the government and AOSK as enshrined in UN Sustainable Development Goal 17 (SDG 17). She emphasized the acquisition of vocational skills as a vehicle to self-propel the youth and extended her gratitude to the AOSK for initiating such a noble exercise of empowering young people to gain technical skills.

On his part, Mr Francis Chege, the Deputy Director of Youth Social Development paid tribute to the late Mr Conrad N. Hilton and his foundation for changing lives in Africa, and especially Kenya through young people.

According to Sr Mwayi, in the past three years since the enrollment of the program, SLYI has supported Catholic TTIs and enhanced their capacity to sustainably offer services to target vulnerable and disadvantaged youth between 15 and 25 years.

The program has also increased the employability index of the youth and inculcated in them the values and skills necessary for their psycho-social well-being.