George Kogolla: ”We wanted to show that young people can be an asset”
The status of young people has always been weak in Kenya, even though majority of the population is under-aged. Youth Alive! Kenya is an organization for young people, providing children and adolescents an opportunity to improve their quality of life. YAK’s executive director George Kogolla told KIOS about his work.
“I was 23 when we founded Youth Alive! Kenya. We wanted to form our goals ourselves, and show that young people can be an asset.
Young people are not respected in Kenya. Thus, it is not easy to operate as a young organization comprising of young people, who are additionally working with young people. It is hard for us to make our voices heard, and we don’t know any powerful people. We young people must work twice as hard to be taken seriously.
When people are suffering from extreme poverty human rights don’t seem essential. If we want to promote human rights in Kenya, we must combine them with basic needs. Otherwise people will ask what are the rights needed for, when you cannot eat them.
In the 2008 elections young people leaded the unrest. It is easy to feed the poor an ideology based on tribal cause. We didn’t believe this could happen, but the violence opened our eyes. On the other hand, the central role of young people demonstrated that young people certainly are powerful. I believe we can achieve positive changes by empowering the young.”
KIOS has supported YAK’s juvenile justice program, which aims at a more effective justice system and at integrating the young into the society. KIOS’ and YAK’s partnership programme strengthens Kenyan grassroots human rights organizations by training and networking them.
- Youth Alive! Kenya