Nzumari Africa Youth Gathering Space

Nzumari Africa Youth Gathering Space

Nzumari Africa with the support of Cities Rise has been running a youth gathering space at St. Daniel Comboni Catholic Church in Huruma since 2020. The youth gathering Space has engaged and reached over 54,000 persons with its physical and online gatherings and activities.

At the Space, youths are engaged in various activities which include board games, table tennis, watching movies, mental health discussions among others. A psychologist is also stationed at the space to provide Mental Health Literacy and Psychosocial Services, free of charge, to young people.

Here is what young people say about the gathering space;

Jolly Oyaro

 (Program Officer/ Administrator- Youth Gathering Space)

What makes you come to the Huruma youth gathering space? /What is the attraction?

I grew up in Huruma and therefore just coming back to work in this space and share my personal journey with other young people growing in the same environment always feels good. It is also a space with young people and I am one myself. I also enjoy interacting with young people and listening to issues affecting them both positively and negatively and able to give my opinion as a person and expert at the same time. I also love the fact that at Nzumari Africa we are currently working on a mental health.

What do you enjoy most at the Huruma youth gathering space?

I enjoy the informal engagements with young people and getting to learn from each other especially during the roundtable discussions and when playing the indoor games. Listening to the them open up and speak up on issues affecting them and their mental health freely gives me a peace of mind. I also enjoy the fact that we are able to design and plan activities with the youths themselves. Engaging young people in their programs is vital because at the end of the day they are the target beneficiaries.

What Mental Health information have you gotten from the Huruma Youth Gathering Space?

Working at the Space has made me aware of facilities offering mental health services around Huruma and its environs. I am now aware of the signs and symptoms of the common mental health problems among the youth to look out for. The common mental health issues being Depression, Anxiety, Suicide and Bipolar among others

What has changed in your life that has been influenced by you attending Huruma Youth gathering space activities?

Attending the Youth Gathering Space has made me learn flexibility in my working and interactions; being able to communicate in sheng while interacting with some of the young people and moving to formal language; English and Swahili when interacting with “High profile” people. Being able to understand and perceive mental health issues better from the young people’s experiences. I only knew mental health issues from the “Books” point of view but within the youth gathering space I have interacted with youths with lived experience and this has opened my mind to realize that someone does not just wake up and have a disorder, in most cases there are background or underlying issues that resulted to the disorder. I have become more aware especially on the signs and symptoms and causes of different mental health disorder. Lastly flexibility in terms of moving from physical convening to online especially during the pandemic; that online platforms can sure be used to create change and raise awareness on different issues affecting the youth and their mental health.

What activities would you like to take place more often?

I am working on how the youths in the space can be engaged in more roundtable discussions especially on factors contributing to mental health problems among the youth. The platform usually gives the youth a space to share their genuine and honest views. Competitions of the different indoor games that are already there like Darts, Table Tennis and Chess since these are the three games that I think the youths enjoy the most. This is something that I would like to see happen and I am working on how that can be achieved as soon as possible.

If you were to change one thing at the Youth Gathering Space, what would it be?

I wish we had a bigger space to host football matches because most of the youths that visit the space especially the young men, allude to this. I also wish we had more resources to do good mobilization for youths to come participate in our activities and also have home essential drives after every three months just to give back to the community of youths that come to interact with the space especially those that are less fortunate and do not have jobs

Suggest additional activities you would like to be incorporated in the Huruma Youth Gathering Space?

I would also like to have exchange programs where our volunteers and staff can visit Mukuru Salama Centre just to see how different they run their activities and how they engage with both young men and women differently and especially what they are doing to have more females engage in their activities. Having football matches, open days where institutions working with young people come to give information and intake youths for their programs, free screenings on mental health problems, sexual and reproductive health and rights issues (STIS, HIV AIDS) Contraceptives, and cancer screenings.

Zack Nyamari

(Space User/ Volunteer Youth Gathering Space)

What makes you come to the Huruma youth gathering space? /What is the attraction?

I come to the space for the discussions. I like to engage and share my thoughts with my peers and also hear their perspectives on various issues. The discussions are lively and interesting. There have been debates, round table discussions and WhatsApp chats going on every other day. I have learnt a lot through these discussions

What do you enjoy most at the Huruma youth gathering space?

I have had an opportunity to learn new skills like how to provide psychological first aid for a person undergoing mental health distress. I am now a peer mentor and able to offer referrals to a psychologist in case a young person needs that service otherwise I am able to provide peer to peer help on Mental distress that do not require a person to see a psychologist

What activities would you like to take place more often?

What I would like to see happen more often is

  1. More group therapy sessions. However due to the on and off government restrictions brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic that may have affected the realization of having in person group therapy sessions.
  2. I would also suggest that the gathering space gets a male psychologist so that it has a female and a male psychologist. Some young people prefer a male psychologist and others a female psychologist.
  3. More trainings e.g. how to do an expenses budget, saving and investing money etc

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