Monday, 18 May 2015

Up With Hope Dispatch May 2015

Mathare Environmental have teamed up with a local partner Fredrick Maura who has been supporting the feeding program for disadvantaged members / Street kids of the community. These people live incredibly difficult lives and members of MECYG are doing such an inspiring job of cooking for them in the morning purely out of goodwill. Fredrick has been able to return some of them to their villages at their requests and return them to their families who some of didn’t know if their children were alive or not. Amazing work and the true definition of Up With Hope!


We have teamed up with the UN to facilitate the installation of ICT centres in Nairobi. The project is based on engaging youth in governance and entrepreneurship through ICT (Informtation Communication Technology) This will be a considerable undertaking but we are looking forward to it. Especially what the bright young minds will come up with!


I have joined the Nairobi Skateboarding Association. They have already won awards for their work in communities and have funds they want to use to create space for other youth. They are charming youth with a healthy appetite for life. 


With out any major UWH projects on the go at the moment I still keep my self busy by helping out in whatever capacity I can in other initiatives and events. Kaka is very good at keeping me informed and gets me out whenever there is something to do. People who need guidance or are looking to bring projects to the ground contact kaka all throughout the day. He is an inspiring leader and will most likely run for MCA of Mlango Kubwa in the 2017 federal elections. 

I personally love the vertical gardens that MECYG is growing on the roof of the centre. This is a project supported by the National Youth Service who has employed thousands of youth in Mathare to be civil servants and create opportunities for youth. It is a six-month program that is in its third month. 

A major time consumer is burials, which means leaving Nairobi almost every weekend at the request of community members who have lost a loved one. We are well known members of the community and usually travel in a very large delegation. We were recently invited to the home of Hon. Raila Odinga former prime minister and presidential aspirant who I met with great honor. 

Thanks for checking in :) One Love!

Monday, 27 April 2015


It's a great feeling when people appreciate the work you do and want to support. We recently hosted an international delegation and members of UN Habitat who took a tour of the community (Mlango Kubwa) and donated new football equipment to the team.  We have been so busy so not a lot of time for blogging! 

A game happened totally unplanned between the Mathare youth and UN representatives on on the SLUM SOCCER field. It was super cool and it ended in a 3-3 tie!

Kaka and Lene Conradi, Mayor of Asker, Norway on a tour of Mlango Kubwa 

On lookers watching as visitors walk the streets 

 Time to do some inventory of the new goodies!

We have also been visiting the UN as we are getting ready to build a computer lab in Mathare

Our brother Kaka is becoming more of a leader everyday. All day long his phone rings with people wanting to bring projects into his community as well as people hoping he can fix their problems. He is an inspiring human being whose strength and hard work is changing the lives of so many people. 

The journey continues! 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Watch a community build their first sports field

We have a new video online that quickly captures the 'Slum Soccer" project and the events that followed. This has been a great project although we still want to do some work on it such as drainage and lighting. Mlango Kubwa is such an amazing community in Mathare with so many amazing characters and bright young minds! 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Daily Operations

A video of daily operations in the Kamaliza recycling centre. Up With Hope Plastic shredding machine with a brand new installed motor and two other machines operating. This video was taken as a roof was being placed above the machines

Monday, 2 February 2015

January just happened..

Seems like the rest of the year got booked up in the last couple weeks. My head is spinning still so it could be a good idea to write down what just happened. 

The year started off in tragedy as a 7 story building collapsed killing 5 people. Our team who we've partnered with from Little Acts of Kindness gathered a relief team and soon we were putting together survival kits and delivering them to the victims and providing warm food to the army and relief teams who were digging through the rubble for survivors.

Most of the month was spent fixing up our recycling machines and in two days of using the welding machine in the sun managed to burn my entire face and neck that led to my lips literally peeling off. The machines are in amazing shape considering they've been around for almost 6 years. It's a great business and this is where Up With Hope started originally by providing space for youth groups to engage in the recycling sector. 6 years later and we are still at it! 

The United Nations paid us a visit and we played them our SLUM SOCCER documentary. Video is really a powerful tool for sharing information and they were all blown away at what we've accomplished with almost next to nothing in resources. I went up and spoke in front of the UN delegation while wearing my filthy coveralls covered in paint and dust and talked about how youth need space to share and the impact it makes. Apparently they listened because we have a new project with them that I'll write about when more develops. 

Apart from doing maintenance on the centre and a trip to the rural area to bury one of our member's father, the sun is hotter this season than I ever remember and most time outside is spent running from one shady spot to another. 

Heres some documentation of January:

        Starting off the year with maintenance

Removable volleyball nets installed on the pitch

Workshop guard dog has had the cutest litter ever

Mathare village

Supervising contruction with Little Acts of Kindness

On a serious mango mission

A quick moment of serenity before whipping back to the city

A sunset from Buru Buru
Peace out!

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Supreme Mango Machine - Part II - Don't Follow Me I'm Lost

Part Two: Don’t Follow Me I’m Lost

I threw my knife down on the table.

“Whats this?” the Ugandan soldier asked me.

“It’s for fruit.”

“What if I slap you in the face?”

“Then I slap you in the face.”

He handed me the knife. That was immigration. Cargo trucks were backed up as far as the eye could see. We found a bus that filled up quickly and headed off again. At a road stop hawkers buzzed around our bus jamming beef sticks in our face.
Time moves so slowly when you are on a bus not knowing where you are going and sometimes it stands still when language gets in the way.

“Language - sielewi. Pesa ni noma!” Farouk was laughing like mad. He had never left his country and the currency exchange was already messing with our minds.  We drove along the source of the Nile and saw the incredible landscapes from Jinja. Those sites made the whole trip worth it. Later on the bus ride I envied the guy beside me chewing a variety of fresh miraa as I bashed my head against the window every time I dozed off, sending my cap flying in different directions-prime entertainment for others on the long bus ride. 

We inched through the traffic into Kampala at night and eventually were out on the road as a fury of bodies swept us into the pulse blowing through the streets and buildings. Even at night colours wrestled through dimensions in all the different levels of the bustling city. We walked through the night hypnotized by the intoxicating kingdom of layers.

 Our phones were dead; our stomachs were empty. The concept of time had left us behind. A kind lady led us to a place to eat. She took us up and down streets with no signs but packed to the eyes with people on their own special mission. We sat down in a packed cafeteria bar and ate chicken while strategizing what next.

In the back of a truck carrying dozens of brand new mountain bikes sits Mansour holding onto a metal bar in the dark. The air was cold and the driver was blasting along the highway to Kampala because Mansour knew Farouk and I had already arrived. His phone also dead. The truck slowed down and stopped in the pitch black. Flashlights came and Mansour watched through a hole in the side as soldiers talked to the driver. Soldiers came and inspected the cargo. A soldier stuck his light on the bikes and Mansour as he sat motionless. Arguing and yelling ensued with the driver and it seemed now the truck was not moving anywhere. Papers were not in order.

The people of Kampala seem to never need sleep. The city streets are alive with motorcycles and buses carrying people to their destinations. We woke up in a hotel by the main bus station and the city seemed to have just kept going without stopping.

Once back on the street Mansour still wasn’t picking calls. We found a place to eat to hide from the pounding heat of the sun. Two kids ran around my chair and played with my arm hair. Thick and tasty slices of fried cassava and banana were consumed as awkward words of Swahili were exchanged between the mother and cook.

Hours later Mansour finally arrived back at his compound. He sent one of his workers to come and pick us from the giant Kampala bus stage. As we walked through the maze of buses, a tall man covered in tattoos holding two brand new mountain bikes stopped us. His name is Yogi.
“Please get on. I will take you to Mansour.”


When I first got out on the street, I thought I was going to meet my death. Then I realized drivers were cautious of us. We weaved through buses and handcarts on gorgeous brand new mountain bikes, as our guide told us where to go. After some urban maneuvers we were on a small path passing underneath amazing green trees and through vibrant communities. Some of the hills almost killed us but the sun was beginning to relax. We arrived at a gate slowly opened by a happy looking young man.

Yogi walked us to the big house and we went in through some obscure door on the side. He took us to our accommodation and invited us to come and eat upstairs after we settled in. A huge dark Rhodesian ridgeback came running into the room wanting to play with us. Yogi left with the dog and I fell back on the bed.

As we climbed the stairs to look for food, I could hear people talking. We went up to greet them when someone got up in front of me. Biggy stuck his hand out with a grin and said to me:

“I want you to meet Mansour.”

“Hope you enjoyed your ride up with the assistance of the Dutch embassy,” said Mansour who looked like he had been awake for years but maintained a very strong identity.

We sat on the roof and ate delicious food while the sky changed colour. Everyone looked stunning. I asked Biggy what the deal was.
“We were rafting the rapids in Jinja and decided to come save you of your job. I’m carrying the machine tomorrow morning in the truck.”

That’s how I instantly became free of duties in Uganda. Mansour and his guests invited us out to enjoy Kampala nightlife. We rocked out in dancehalls where crowds keep moving until sun rise. A huge man walked up to me and opened a newspaper. He sprayed everything in his mouth on my face as he asked: “Do you eat this?”

In the newspaper was a pile of green grasshoppers fried in their own buttery juices. I slid a few down to make the excited man happy. They were tasty and energizing.

“I’m going back to my village,” said Farouk when we got back to the house that morning.

I woke up in the afternoon and lay in bed while listening to the music playing from outside.

“Tu n’as pas le choix, C’est plus fort que toi”

I walked to the roof and found Farouk.

“You could find a great wife around here,” he said to me

We talked for sometime about how traveling leads to self-discovery. You learn so much about yourself when you’re out of your comfort zone.

As we walked to the gate I called a pikipiki. Farouk got on the back seat and looked at me with concern.

“I’m gonna hang out here a while,” I told him

We said our good byes, and as they took off I noticed a sign on the back of the pikipiki underneath Farouk’s seat.


     I’M LOST