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Raising literacy levels through the language of football

Homeboys Football Club

They sailed through undefeated in the 2018/2019 Turkana County football league after consistently posting impressive results in matches for three consecutive years. And since the Strathmore Turkana Mentorship Programme (TMP) volunteers adopted it, the Homeboys Club has been voted the best club in terms of discipline. Since its adoption, the club based in Napetet village, an informal settlement in the outskirts of Lodwar town, has also not been penalized for any matter relating to bad sporting behavior.

As depicted in two biographical movies, Remember the Titans and Invictus, sporting activities have been used in various forums to bring about a much-needed change in society. Volunteers from TMP have been using the joy and energy that comes with kicking a ball to entice students in local learning institutions away from drug and substance abuse, teenage pregnancies and early marriages. These negative activities draw them away from education and curtail their progress in life.

The Turkana Mentorship Programme was started in May 2019 by three Strathmore alumni – Lydia Aipa, Hellen Ateyo, and Rebecca Eyanae – born and raised in Turkana.

“We hope that our involvement in mentorship will increase the transition rate of students from primary to high school and to the tertiary level. We also believe that teenage pregnancies and early marriages which have become rampant will reduce drastically. Our long term objective is to see a decrease in poverty and an increase in the literacy levels within our community.”

In February 2020, the University’s Community Outreach Program sponsored the club to Namoruputh in the Loima sub-county to participate in a friendly match with the Loima football club: this football club is run by a Turkana Mentorship Program volunteer and a teacher at a local school. The friendly match exposed the players to a new environment and facilitated interaction with other students. Christina Garashie and Michael Babu, staff members at Strathmore University, gave sessions to the young boys and club and were able to witness the progress that TMP is making within the semi-arid county.

Mentorship at Kokuselei

During the same trip, the team took part in a mentoring programme to Kokuselei, an outstation of Nariokotome Catholic Mission in Turkana North run by women missionaries. The boys and girls who rely on the mission for their meals, health care, and basic education, come from backgrounds that equate success with how early one marries and the number of camels, goats, and sheep one has.

The volunteers faced the hurdle of gaining the trust of the students to help them see beyond their cultural beliefs. They chose to paint a different picture of success, that comes through education, an avenue that won them the trust of their listeners.

“We had an interactive session with them as we reiterated the importance of education as a key to success and encouraged them to work hard. It is difficult to convince someone who has been raised in a family where none of their relatives has had the privilege of stepping into a class that education will alter their prospects positively. We however believe that these mentorship forums will trigger a mindset change,” Alfred Idere, TMP Volunteer.