Please tell us about yourself?
My name is Fredrick Mulli, and I am a 20 year old young man living in the great city of Nairobi, Kenya. I am an alumni of the African Leadership Academy based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Rosslyn Academy, here in Nairobi, as well as being a fellow of the British Council’s Global Changemakers program. If I could put the things that matter most to me in order, they would be; Faith, Family, Football, Future. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Strathmore University, one of Kenya’s top universities. I also work at the Tipping Scales Foundation, an organization that runs programs and initiatives that look to empower women and youth. My work revolves around the youth, and throughout the last year, we have held a few projects in the community that seek to guide as well as motivate young people in charting the course our community will take in the future, and have exciting programs to come later on in the year.
What is the name of the community outreach project you involved in? And what is it all about?
At the moment, there are two projects that we have been running are; the United Football Club, and the Play Football, Change a Life initiative. The United Football Club is a program that uses football as a means of raising awareness on HIV/AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse among young boys between the ages of 11 and 14. We integrate the awareness-raising and the football by focussing on principals that are necessary for success on the pitch, and off it as well. These are; discipline, decision-making, character/self-belief and communication/teamwork. We hold football camps twice a year, and during these camps, we educate the boys on ways in which HIV/AIDS is spread, its effects on an individual and community level, and measures one can take to prevent contracting the disease/virus. During the camps, we invite medical professionals to give presentations on the issues we discuss, as well as former football pros that help put into perspective the need and importance of the principles that are the core of the program.
When did it start? What motivated you to start this project?
We held our first football camp in April 2012, which lasted for one week. We started the project because we felt , with the changing times, young people were growing up a lot faster than in the past, in the sense that what teenagers would experiment with at age 19 a few years back, they were now experimenting at age 15. We felt there was need to disseminate information on values and principles of being responsible citizens during the early age in life amongst the youth, than was previously the case. We wanted to ensure that by the time they feel ‘grown up’ enough to smoke, or drink or become sexually active, they had some underlying knowledge that guided their actions.
What is the purpose this project?
The purpose of our project is to enlighten the youth on realities of life sooner rather than later. We want to create a comfortable environment where young boys can talk openly about things they are experiencing, which will create a window in which they can learn as much as possible. We want to make sure that as we continue on this journey of discovery with our boys, they slowly start applying the principles the program was founded upon in their daily lives, allowing them to grow in a manner that encourages and enables each of them to fulfil their potential.
What do you want to achieve with project?
To date, we have reached almost 103 boys between the age of 11 and 14 both directly and indirectly. This has been in large part due to word of mouth between the boys who attend our camps and their peers at home and/or in school, and also through a learning pack we publish and distribute during the camps. These learning packs expand more on the topics of HIV/AIDS and drug and alcohol abuse, and contain worksheets we ask the participants to complete with their parents, recognizing they too have a role to play in helping us achieve our goal. By the end of this year, we hope to reach 300 young boys in our community and in neighbouring communities, a goal that we believe is within our reach, and enable us ensure that our message is received by a wider audience and has a positive impact for future generations.
How one can get involved in the project?
If you would like to get involved in the program, drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can send me any input or feedback at email@example.com. Our website is currently under construction, and therefore is unavailable at the moment, but we will be holding our next football camp between the 19th and 30th of August at the Moi Educational Center in Nairobi West, Nairobi, Kenya. If you happen to be in and around that area on those days, do not hesitate to drop by. We will welcome you with open arms. Also, if you know of people that can provide additional topics and or sessions that will enlightenthe youth in terms of moulding their young minds, that too is welcome and can be a great asset to our cause.
What were some of the challenges you faced as a young person starting your own project?
Some of the problems we faced while setting up the project was getting other organizations, schools and other guests we invited to take us seriously. It took us a long time to secure a venue to hold our camps because other venues denied us access for reasons that were nowhere near satisfying. We also had some trouble getting members of the community on board, with one of the schools we approached to help expressing hesitation to work with us and ultimately deciding not to assist us in raising awareness. Regardless, we have risen above those challenges, and been able to establish a decent set-up that can only get better and bigger.
How has the journey being like so far?
Despite the rough start we endured, we believe that we are now headed in the right direction. This is in no small part thanks to the support we have received from the Global Changemakers program (http://www.global-changemakers.net/). We have been able to receive monetary support in the form of a grant, but more importantly, we have been able to receive project management tools and skills that have been invaluable in not only helping us set up our project, but sustain it as well. The Global Changemakers team constantly make themselves available to listen to project ideas and provide advice on how one can be more efficient in running their project, as well as how one can improve different aspects of their project in order to improve the results. They have truly been a blessing to us, and I would encourage any young person out there looking to make a change to visit their website and learn more about the program (http://www.global-changemakers.net/).
How has the community benefited from the project?
We have seen a lot of change in how the young boys interact with each other, they tend to respect one another much more, they are also growing to become responsible citizens in the sense that when we hold tournaments to raise funds for the disadvantaged communities, they are more than willing to participate for these noble causes.
What has been some of your biggest achievements yet?
Our biggest achievement so far has to be the number of young boys we have reached out to. Considering the fact that we are a team of 4 young people running a project that is only a year old, we take pride in having reached 103 young boys, and are as motivated as ever to exceed the 300 mark by the end of the year.
I believe that we as Africans have improved over the past few years with regard to listening to the youth and respecting their opinions, paying attention to our perspective, however I believe that we need to move beyond just hearing what we have to say, but being ready and willing to support African youth. Though it happens in some instances, I believe a lot more can be done by the youth if given the chance. I believe the African continent must take the leap of faith and trust in young people to fulfil the potential that has only been spoken of. We have a lot of ideas, energy and eagerness to make a difference in our societies, and I believe that if our generation and those that outdate ours come together to work for the betterment of the continent, there’s no limit to the heights we can take this land we call our home.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 years time I will have completed my studies, and hope to dedicate more of my time planning and implementing projects that will help improve the lives of those living in my community, especially the less fortunate. I hope that in the coming years, I will be able to forge relationships with my peers and the leaders within my community, for the betterment of each one of us. I would like to pursue a leadership position in government at some point in the future, where I can make contributions and articulate issues concerning the youth at the policy level. Hopefully I can have garnered enough experience and exposure, working with communities at the grass root level in order to better represent their needs at the national level
What would you like to change about Africa today?
If there is one thing I would change about Africa today is its perception, rather impression of politics. In my opinion, too much of this great continent’s potential has been trivialised by the greed, narrow-mindedness and short-sightedness of our politics. I believe that if we choose to focus on positions of power as opportunities to embrace good governance, and abandon politics in favour of leadership, then we can slowly but surely resurrect the continent’s dreams and aspirations held by the very same men and women who liberated us from the chains of colonialism, and brought the future of Africa to the African people. We all need to start thinking in terms of ‘we’ instead of ‘I’.
What advice do you have for young people who want to start their own project?
For any young people who may want to start their own project, my advice would be simple: never lose sight of the ‘who’, the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. If you remind yourself of who you want to help using your project, what you will do to help them, and importantly, why you want to help them, then every obstacle will be nothing more than a peddle stool.
How can other youth connect with you?
If you would like to connect with me, I am always available on:
Facebook – facebook.com/freddy.mulli
Twitter – @freddymulli
LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=223080637&trk=hb_tab_pro_top
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Changemakers – http://www.global-changemakers.net/members/freddym/
Skype – freddiy.mulli
And if all these fail: +254726940345