Maisha (meaning 'life' in Swahili) is a grass roots charity I co-founded in 2012 that provides opportunities in vocational skills training that no other local charity or NGO is focused on.
It is the highlight of my jewellery production trips to Nairobi to check in with our students for the Maisha Foundation.
This bright bunch of young 21 year olds are so dedicated to their studies and full of energy that it's humbling to remember their struggle as children from Kibera, Africa's largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
I spent the day with our pragmatic student manager, Japheth Okoth, visiting students on two campuses where Maisha pays for their diploma and accommodation on site.
Our first student I visited was Calvince, studying Electrical Engineering. He shares his digs with boys of the same age and proudly showed me the thick volume text books stacked by his bedside. He has just finished an internship as an industrial attachment with a Telecoms company and plans to become a self employed Telecom Technician on finishing his diploma.
Next, we visited David, our Fashion Design student. David has not only achieved the highest grade in his first year of studies but was also voted best upcoming designer. He has successfully completed his first paid internship with a local leather ware brand and will finish with an internationally recognised diploma. He studies by day and works by oil lamp by night on orders for friends and family. David also gives back to his community, conducting motivational seminars with groups of young people in Kibera and has even taught his mother how to sew.
Help us to continue investing in a new generation of enterprising and talented people by donating HERE or donating any second hand laptops or cameras that you no longer need.
Within Africa's largest slum there are thriving communities of people running small businesses and engaged with jobs in the greater Nairobi area. Kibera is very impoverished but its people have an incredible work ethic, outlook on life and above all nothing is wasted. Anything that can be reused or recycled or a given opportunity is taken in order to develop. It is a slum of over 1 million people but dwellers pay rent to the government and continue to live and work against all odds.
We first started our Maisha charity after spending a lot of time within a specific community of Kibera. We were directing an art based project called 'Life in Kibera' in 2010 with funding from the Soho House Group. The art work created by leading international artists was sold to raise funds for a school in Kibera and it was during this time that we met so many young and ambitious adolescents who were not academic but talented with music, engineering, and so on.
Since 2012 we have been investing in these extraordinary young people in their pursuit of furthering their education in order to find a job or sustainable self-employment. With the help of our student manager Japheth Okoth we offer mentorship and on-campus accommodation as well as guided internship programmes.
This is a grass roots charity and all donations go towards backing new students.