Celebrating our Champions; Where CSC Began
Born in England, studied French and Italian literature in Birmingham University, taught for two years in Italy and finally joining the Strathmore family, summarizes the life of the Community Service Centre (CSC) founder, Mr. Martyn Drakard. His desire to see change in the lives of disadvantaged members in our society saw him birth the idea of helping out through sustainable projects and funding. This is a core aspect to the universitys mission of being of service to society. CSC has been in active operation since then marking its 10 years anniversary this year in its 10 day Community week programme.
Strathmore University geographically stands between two large slums; Kibera and Mukuru. This location offers the university great responsibility and challenge to ensure that it does not remain ignorant of, and indifferent to the problems people are facing around it. The services offered are always richly humanitarian.
Mr. Drakard, a very gentle and passionate man, took time to take us through COPSs inception;
- What inspired you to start CSC?
There was a time I drove through Kibera slums and the sight of poverty in this area saddened me. Seeing the dilapidated state of people living in shanties and naked babies crying made me realize that we need to do something to help these people, and not just a one-off thing. Through the approval of the universitys Vice Chancellor, Prof John Odhiambo, who also had a similar idea, we decided to start CSC.
- Greatest achievement of CSC so far?
It is difficult to pinpoint one great achievement, but here are some that stand out for me:
The work camps are great. Having the students partner up with donors and communities, towards edifying the lives of the needy in various parts of our society is impeccable. Seeing them give of their energy and time, while at the same time sacrificing their comfort, all for the good of the needy in our society is impeccable.
The connection with SlumCode Group (a slum-based enterprise development organization founded on building strategies for community driven development since the year 2006).
Finally, the Prisons programme has also been of great value, not only to the inmates, but also the students who get to visit the prisons. Some prisoners do not deserve to be in prison, but with the programs we offer to them, they get to improve on themselves before they are released back to society.
- Greatest challenge CSC has faced so far?
Lack of funds; with more financial muscle we can increase our capacity to serve more people in our society.
- Where do you see CSC in the next 5 to 10years?
Depending on funding a lot more can be done. More work camps should be encouraged and also, projects within Nairobi County should be on the increase.
- To the students thinking of joining CSC but are hesitant or yet to make their minds up;
Doing this projects are self-fullfilling. You not only do well to others but also to yourself.
You build your own sense of responsibility.
Mr. Drakard summarized well, when he stated, Students who join Strathmore University are highly privileged and may not realize that they are surrounded by extreme poverty and misery. Yet from these extreme situations come great and inspiring stories of people who make great sacrifices for their families; from men who walk for long distances, each day, in search of jobs and women who set up small kiosks with the aim of earning a few shillings so as to ensure their children do not go hungry, to grandmothers who look after twenty grandchildren whose parents have died of AIDS etc. These stories can be best understood and appreciated when one is part of the Community Service Centre.
For anyone interested in joining the program contact the CSC offices.