Before formation of the Airbase Youth Association in September 2021, on interaction with Undugu Society of Kenya, that is domiciled on the commercial third (3rd) Avenue of Eastleigh, Nairobi, members faced myriad challenges. They lacked ability to afford housing (shelter), abused drugs and substances, collided constantly with police and business community over allegations of crime, besides landlords and caretakers of buildings who considered them nuisance to their businesses.
Now this is almost a story of the past for some. Through the Association model of reform, where USK trains, mentors, coaches and links to other expert actors on various subjects, the youth have been able to build their capacities in various ways. This has largely focused on mechanism to reduce drug and substance abuse, while enhancing leadership and life skills among others. USK staff continue to visit them once a week to have conversations about their issues, track progress of targets set and also motivate them to stay the path. Through these interventions, the members are journeying through rehabilitation and they have reduced intake of drugs, improved their level of personal hygiene, 2 members have reported that they no longer sleep in the streets and are able to pay rent and at least afford a decent meal.
The association which boasts of a working constitution and clear leadership structure consisting a chairperson, secretary and treasurer, is now a government registered self-help group. The youths have since applied acquired knowledge and skills to start up a Group Income Generating Activity (IGA) of briquette making and vegetable farming along the river bed near Kamukunji grounds after being allocated the space by local area leadership. This is attributed to improved relationship with the local administrator (chief), an aspect that demonstrates increased capacities to engage duty bearers. Due to their daily engagement at their IGA location, they hardly interact with the landlords and caretakers at their Eastleigh base and the conflict has reduced. The reform journey continues.