The founder of Sauti Kuu Resource Centre in Kogelo, Siaya County, says the institution could take a little longer to finally start functioning in full.
Following complaints by locals that the vocational centre launched last year by former US President Barack Obama with fanfare was now disused, Dr Auma Obama — founder and director of the projects — said all was well.
She exuded confidence that even though the projects are likely to take the better part of this year to start off, everything was on course.
“We are developing the training programme in conjunction with partners, both national and international. We are also in the process of equipping the centre with the necessary machinery for each course,” Dr Obama told the Nation via e-mail.
“This will take a good part of this year. The objective is to have a programme with a big emphasis on particular hands-on training as opposed to just theory. We want to pioneer a programme that will enable young people to immediately be integrated into the workforce.”
The vocational centre is named Barack Hussein Obama Snr Centre for Knowledge, Learning and Excellence. It was launched on July 16, last year.
But to date, the facility located on the Kogelo-Ndori road is yet to be fully equipped so it can enrol youths for its technical courses.
The Kogelo project director, Mr Dan Oduor, cited lack of sponsors as the cause for the delay.
“We rely on donor funding and to this extent, I can say we received funding for the construction of the facilities but we are yet to get sponsors to furnish the facility with various study equipment and machinery,” Mr Oduor said.
“We have, however, received an assortment of computers from Liquid Telecom, which we have used to equip our ICT room,” he added.
Dr Obama said once the trainings kick off, those enrolled will have the opportunity to own the initiative.
“At Sauti Kuu, we strongly believe in ownership of one’s own development and responsibility for one’s life. We do not encourage the mentality of Gonya Gonya Konya Konya (hand out),” she stated.
She, however, disclosed that they had started off well with their agricultural projects but unfortunately due to drought, it had not picked up as had earlier been anticipated.
Dr Obama adds that: “To contribute to their participation our young people pay a small membership fee of Sh 100 per year, which they can then use to do projects of their choice. This is approximately Sh8 per month. This token sum gives them ownership and appreciation of the programmes and the foundation as a whole.”
She, however, disclosed that they had started well with their agricultural projects but unfortunately due to drought, it had not picked up very well.
“The drought has been an issue and we are currently reintroducing indigenous crops to grow during the dry season, such as cassava to ensure that at least the families have some food that they can eat and also sell,” added Dr Obama.
She revealed that they were also partnering with organisations in finding solutions to the problem of water availability.
The facilities also entail an international standard size football pitch sponsored by the German Ministry for Development Cooperation, a basketball court sponsored by the Giants of Africa Foundation run by NBA legend Masai Ujiri from Nigeria, and a volleyball and netball court.
Dr Auma said ahead of the project launch last year that the space would serve as a safe physical space for children, youth and their families, ‘to meet and interact regularly while participating in different sports and learning activities.’
Through educational, sports and learning activities, she noted that the centre would pave the way for a better future for Sauti Kuu children, youth and their families.
Mr Oduor says that already, children were benefiting from the sporting activities at Sauti Kuu as well as free lunch during weekends.