It’s been a truly inspiring journey that has now come to an end. I managed to feature seven out of ten stories, 70% if you will, which I am pleased to share with you. I have been touched by the work these young people from Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda are doing with so little resources. As you read through, I hope you can find the time and means to reach out, support and encourage them, in whatever way you can. 

Nelson Opany

On 15th April 2020 I announced that over 10 weeks starting 20th April until end of June 2020, I would be running a communications volunteering series. During this period, I offered my skills to help write stories drawing attention to 10 African grassroots businesses, organizations, projects or personalities that are creating a positive impact on people, all for free.

This for me was a way to use my skills to help others virtually, especially during these difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe that there is always a way we can be of benefit to others no matter the circumstances. I urge you to look within yourself and identify how you could use your knowledge, skills, time and resources to assist others who may need your help.  

 It’s been a truly inspiring journey that has now come to an end. I managed to feature seven out of ten stories, 70% if you will, which I am pleased to share with you. I have been touched by the work these young people from Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda are doing with so little resources. As you read through, I hope you can find the time and means to reach out, support and encourage them, in whatever way you can. 

Father to the Fatherless-Giving Hope and Food to Juvenile Offenders

The results of Lifesong Kenya’s work in some of Nairobi’s most vulnerable neighbourhoods are manifested in the lives of over 100 boys who have graduated from its prison computer classes, 5 court cases involving young boys that were dropped in 2019, the 20 families they are feeding during the COVID-19 pandemic and an estimated 1000 boys who have directly benefitted from their programmes in one way or another since 2010, albeit with meagre financial resources and manpower. Basil Kungu, Waylong Bulimu, Ismail Osman and Teddy Ochung are just four of the many boys whose fortunes have been transformed by one man’s dedication to improving their life-chances against the odds.

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Caring for Orphaned Children and Civil-War Widows in Mozambique

AGDC-M has supported over 3,000 orphaned children and 125 widows with their basic needs of food, clothing and education. 200 girls receive sanitary pads and other personal effects every month. They have also built an 80-seater community library and trained twenty-one facilitators to support the running of the Community Libraries Programme. Over 4,000 people have been reached with HIV/AIDS and public health messaging. For a blind boy, Peterson Pierson, his life took a different turn when AGCD-M helped him to join a school and he is now in grade five.

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Voice, Friend and Hope for Vulnerable Widows

One of the greatest milestones for Women Pillar Alliance (WOPA) has been to see widows who had their pieces of land grabbed by their in-laws get it back and put it to good use to benefit themselves and their children. WOPA has managed to deliver justice through legal redress for tens of widows. Approximately 3,400 women are now better able to meet their basic needs, are more aware of their rights and are not afraid to take up leadership roles in their communities. At least 2,000 young girls have been empowered against engaging in early sexual activity to help curb the ever-rising number of teenage pregnancies that could interrupt their education. More than 400 orphans and vulnerable children are now receiving basic care and support to stay in school.

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Advancing Well-Being of Adolescent Girls in Rural Kenya

Over 2,000 primary and secondary school girls aged between 11 and 19 years from poor and vulnerable pastoralist communities in Narok, Isiolo and Marsabit counties have been empowered with information on menstrual hygiene management and access to adolescent sexual and reproductive health services. By the end of 2019, they had facilitated 25 sexual and reproductive health sessions and supplied menstrual hygiene kits to over 1, 000 girls. Through the “MetaMeta Programme”, more girls are now staying in school during their menstruation, early pregnancies and child marriages have reduced.

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Changing Lives of Deprived, Vulnerable and Excluded Children

With support from ChildFund Kenya as its biggest benefactor, Kisumu Development Programme has to date contributed to transforming lives of over 200,000 deprived, excluded and vulnerable children in the counties of Kisumu, Siaya and Busia in Kenya. By implementing child and family empowerment programmes in education, health and nutrition, livelihoods development, adolescent sexual reproductive health and child protection, more school-going children have improved access to schools; many families have been economically empowered; parents’ capacities to better care for their children has improved and the communities have been empowered to detect, prevent and report cases of child abuse and access child protection services.

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Diversifying Options for Youth Through Agriculture and Skills Training

In just two years, the Rainbow Youth Empowerment Village has empowered underprivileged young people in Nebbi with diverse agricultural skills in crop growing, grape farming and winemaking, beekeeping and tree planting. Many more have benefitted from skills training opportunities in the areas of small-scale businesses, agriculture, carpentry and mechanics among others. With mindsets changing and young people becoming more self-reliant, the future can only be brighter.

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Combining Passion and Courage to Advocate for Change

A passionate environmentalist, Michael Khasindu has so far planted over 5,000 tree seedlings and inspired many school-going young people to love and protect nature. He has also been able to reunite some street children with their families while voicing community concerns to local leadership and community engagement forums. Through various community education events, many people have been empowered with knowledge about their rights and responsibilities and how to demand good leadership and accountability from local leaders. During the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of an awareness campaign, he has been producing reusable face masks and distributing them for free to those who can’t afford them.

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These stories wouldn’t have been the same without the kind support from my friend and former colleague, and a Scouts as well, Ray Saunders who too volunteered his time to help out with the editing. I have known and worked with Ray since 2013 and it was a great pleasure to have him review my work and encourage me throughout the ten weeks.

By listening to, talking to and exchanging emails and WhatsApp chat messages with these amazing people, I have not only been inspired but as well learnt so much from them individually and from their work. In their ways, they exemplify great courage, care for others, selfless sacrifice and an undying passion for the work they do while remaining humble in their achievements for their communities.

It’s a great honour to have contributed to amplifying their stories, which majority of them reckon have never been told. I hope that this series in a way opens our eyes to the many more grassroots community organizations across Africa that struggle to change lives with so little support. I pray that doors open for them to find the help they need to keep doing the all-important work they are doing.

As the saying goes, none is too poor to give nor too rich to receive. I encourage you to reach out to the community workers in your village or town, learn about what they do and find ways to support them. You can also find a cause you a passionate about and pursue it to make your contribution to developing better communities. It is only by so doing that we will all be playing a role in creating a better Africa and a better world.

If you are also wondering how you could still volunteer amidst a pandemic or crisis, I hope my experience gives you an idea on how you could put your skills to the help of others. You don’t always have to spend money to help other people. Sometimes, it only takes a desire and a willing heart.

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