Mathare Roots, a Youth Group from Nairobi, Kenya, is spreading COVID19 awareness through Graffitis

"The unemployment rate is high in Kenya, leading to a lot of young people with no jobs. Working individually was not working for a lot of us, we came together and started a Youth Group called Mathare Roots. It is a group of 250 young members to empower Youth of Mathare, Kenya.

Image: Lucas Odhiambo
Image: Lucas Odhiambo

I am Lucas Odhiambo. I was born and raised in the settlements of Mathare. Through the Mathare Roots, we run a lot of Youth Empowerment Programs - Graffiti is one of them. If you ever visit our office you will see our Office walls are filled with Graffiti.

When the first case of COVID-19 was reported here, some of us came forward to distribute food and masks. We also set up hand washing stations around the area. But we thought we can do even more.

Inspired by a group in Liberia, who drew graffitis on walls to aware people during the Ebola Virus Epidemic, we thought we could do this too.

A lot of people here do not have access to electricity. Though the government is sharing a lot of information, it will not be useful if it does not reach all the segments of the country. So, we decided to draw graffiti in strategic places, such as market areas, busy traffic junctions. We are getting a lot of positive responses as we see people have started maintaining social distancing, they are also washing hands more frequently.

Our major challenge is not having access to the right resources. A lot of people do not want to donate for Graffiti paints. They say, “I will donate for the food, but not for the paints”. But we explain to them the importance of graffiti. It is key to feed people with both food and the right information during the pandemic. Graffiti is just like putting your messages on TV/Radio but cheaper and more accessible. Posters are another alternative but these are not very eye-catching, and they are easily washed away by rains. Graffitis are so huge that it is hard for anyone to ignore them. To date, we have drawn 7 graffitis.

We are getting a lot of appreciation and recognition from various media houses, journalists, and the Kenyan govt. It is very overwhelming and is a boost for us to keep doing the great work."

You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Mathare Roots for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

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