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Kenya: Sarah Otieno and Stephen Thuo, space for the voice of youth

Young Kenyans launch a project to help peers develop their skills

We are young people from Kenya. We share the vision of Spazio Spadoni and have designed the “Empowered to Care” project with some adults to help our peers take responsibility and realise their value and capabilities. We are happy to be part of this programme and want to inspire others. We offer various forums and trainings to prepare us to face the uncertainties and challenges we experience every day and we do this by first of all listening to our peers. We realised how difficult it is to give responsibility and power to young people and that is why we decided to join the project.

Training 3

We can deal with anything

At the heart of youth empowerment is the belief that young people are capable of incredible things. When young people are infused with inspiring ideas and opportunities and have the tools to boost their self-confidence, they can tackle anything.

A responsible and open-minded young person recognises his own capabilities, self-determination and worth. He feels comfortable trying out new things that can make him mature positively. He has the confidence to take risks and is aware that failure is a step towards progress, not a reason to give up. He does not use the ideas of others to make decisions, but tries to construct his own opinion based on his own experience. He defends his own values. And he aims to build a base of autonomy and resilience that he can rely on in times of difficulty or when he feels lost and needs to recalibrate.

We young people in Kenya face many challenges that threaten our lives. Peer pressure is becoming too much for young people to resist. They push themselves to extreme choices in order to experience something new and appealing. ‘Empowered To Care’ raises awareness among young people, empowering them to deal competently and constructively with negative peer pressure and create a positive current among peers.
Depression afflicts many young people in our country and most young people are afraid to express themselves. This often means that we do not have someone to talk to about our difficulties. We face stress alone. In our trainings we offer young people the space to freely share their experiences and express themselves without hesitation.

Training 2

We have to face indifference

In Kenya, young people are mostly ignored and our opinions are not heard, even when we represent – as leaders – many peers. The training we gave to 20 young leaders of a parish had a great impact on them. We are proud Catholic leaders, thanks to the initiative of our parish to guide and train our youth leadership. You have given space not only to voices, but to powerful voices, to strategic voices, and to voices with purpose. The voices we now embody will not only be used for the Church, but also for our community and nation.”

How does this project relate to works of mercy?


The project we are launching helps young people not only to get involved themselves, but also to recognise and be grateful for the listening, forgiveness, care and patience that others have for them. We can recognise in all this a tangible sign of God’s mercy and love for each one of us. Works of mercy live by this reciprocity: those who know how to console well have been consoled, those who know how to teach have learned from others, and those who have forgiven recognise that they in turn need forgiveness. If we young people strengthen patience, advice, mutual correction and love, we can grow personally and as a community. We are responsible for each other and care for our neighbour’s happiness as well as our own. For the truest and deepest happiness in life is to care for those around us.

Sarah Otieno and Stephen Thuo


Spazio Spadoni

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