To help eradicate poverty and empower young people to realize their ambitions and to fulfill their potential.
It is a sad fact that in slum areas the majority of young people have nothing to do – this situation comes up not by choice but by lack of opportunities due to the prevalent poverty in the slums. There are many young people in the slums with great talents and abilities, but due to lack of opportunities their talents and abilities never get explored. The WOPA shoe project aims to change this.
THE NATURE OF THE PROJECT
The WOPA project will be located in Kayole, Nairobi, Kenya. The project is aimed at empowering the youth by creating self-employment for them. They collect old car tyres to make shoes which are know as “Akala”. These are a kind of sandal which have become very popular here in Kenya among the youth and the older people in the country side, where the terrain is very rough with small stones covering the surface of the ground everywhere. It is almost impossible to move on such ground bare-footed and less hardwearing shoes wear out very quickly. It is therefore no surprise that in the Maasai land and West Pokot the inhabitants like to wear the Akala sandals. It goes without saying that the market for these sandals is big and this fact should ensure the success of the project.
THE IMPACT OF THE PROJECT ON THE YOUTH, COMMUNITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
This project will keep young people occupied and keep them away from boredom which leads to such vices as drug use, crime and, among the young women, prostitution. The project also enables the youth to earn some income which may help them to meet their financial needs without turning into criminal activities. It will help the youth acquire some skills which they may also use to start similar projects in different locations.
Environmentally, the project will be useful in the sense that it will clear the old tyres from neighbourhoods which are normally left scattered around, as they will be collected from time to time and made use of. If left laying around, the tyres hold some water in them when it rains, and such kind of water becomes breeding places for mosquitoes which spread malaria.
The project also offers the youth the opportunity to learn and discuss about climate change and how this affects them. Associated projects that include tree-planting and other environmental projects help to spread the message that we must all take care of the environment.
We are convinced that the success of this project will open other avenues as far as empowering the youth financially and gaining different skills in making the sandals. Some youth will gain expertise in areas such as marketing and sales which they will acquire in the course of their day to day duties. Such experience may open other doors for the young people who are engaged in the WOPA Tyre Shoe Project.