Mentorship Programme for the Boys Youth Club in Sagalla
Text by Kenyan Intern, Askenas Mbaja (co-authored by Project Assistant, Brian Mwalavu)
Creating conservation awareness has been among the focus of the Elephants and Bees Education Programme. As part of an impact towards elephant conservation, the Elephant and Bees Project launched a youth club mentorship program for the boys of Sagalla in November 2021, following the success of the girls’ club.
According to a survey done by Taita Taveta county on adolescents and youth in 2015 (NAYS), drug abuse and teenage pregnancy were among the issues affecting the youth, peer pressure being one of the causative drivers. Negative attitude towards education was also seen as a major factor affecting the progress of education among the youth.
Save the Elephants’ initiative to offer mentorship programmes to Sagalla highlights their commitment to supporting communities that are heavily affected by human-elephant conflict. Located on the outskirts of Tsavo National Park, communities in Sagalla face numerous challenges including elephant crop raids, property destruction, and drought. Such challenges put the youth at risk of dropping out of school and eventually engaging in drug abuse and teen pregnancies.
With a focus on providing guidance on crucial life skills, practical know-how, and shade light on the importance of education, the mentorship program strives to support the personal and academic growth of young boys in the community. Since its initiation, the program has covered more than 10 sessions of training that are held during school breaks.
The program is also designed to support and equip youth with mental wellness strategies, life skills, and tools to navigate the challenges they face while building resilience in the process.
Events include environmental activities that enable them to be mindful of wildlife and the ecosystem around them. The boys also indulge in litter collection and tree planting around their respective villages. They also get the opportunity to watch educational films on the environment to enhance their appreciation for nature.
In September 2022, the team organized a trip to Tsavo National Park for the club that accommodated 39 boys, 5 representative parents, 5 members of Sagalla youth, and a few Elephants and Bees staff. The trip was a success as it offered a platform for them to explore different career opportunities within the conservation field. Rangers from Kenya Wildlife Service also provided a tour of the different departments and showed the boys exciting ways they can help contribute to protecting wildlife.
A survey that was conducted after the trip showed that 28% of the boys were visiting the park for the first time, with 89% getting a boost of inspiration in that they can achieve their goals if they work towards it.
In December 2022, facilitators from Elimu Fanaka were invited to deliver the mentorship program to a group of over 45 boys aged between 11 and 20 years old, who were primarily in primary and secondary school as well as polytechnic. The program was specifically designed to empower these boys and cover a variety of topics, including mindset and self-esteem, fear and communication, time management, puberty and peer pressure, and critical and creative thinking. Above all the session was aimed to promote conservation awareness.
In conclusion, this program has had noticeable positive impacts on the boys and I was privileged to experience how strongly these sessions impacted the boys. It is indeed, an easier task to change the mindset of a young boy than it is of an elderly man. It is with no doubt that these boys will grow up to share their stories of success with the next generation.
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