How a human rights club in Africa’s biggest slum helps young people stay on track

Bossvill and Sylvia, both 17, are members of Amnesty International’s Human Rights Club, which takes place in their school in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa. They reveal how their new-found skills are helping them solve problems at home and in their community…

Bossvill’s story

Life has its positives and negatives in Kibera. Sometimes friends want you do things you’re uncomfortable with, often bad things. If you don’t, they will leave you out.

I want to stay in school and I want to gain the skills that will help me achieve a better future. I really enjoy going to Human Rights Club – it has helped me stay on track. It’s run by Amnesty International and Wasanii Sanaa. It’s taught me about friendship, how to negotiate with people and why it’s important to stand for the truth.

It’s having a big impact too. In our society, young people end up taking drugs and drop out of school, but the students in Human Rights Club educate others so they can see there is another path.

I also use these skills at home and in my community! My parents often fight, which makes it hard for me to study, but I am helping them solve their problems. The people who run the club are so inspiring. Through skits, dances and performance art, Vincent and his team makes us see why human rights must be a reality.

Sylvia’s story

Kibera is a life of drug addiction, school drop outs and violence. Friends can be drug addicts and there’s often domestic violence at home.

I want to stay in school. I want to be a better person. I want to be able to change the lives of those who can’t make it.  As a member of Human Rights Club, we learn about governance, relationships and leadership, often through funny skits and dances. I’ve learnt how people can go the extra mile with the right skills.

I live with my aunt and uncle and they often fight. Now, I educate my aunty about the importance of peace and it’s helped stop these disputes.

It’s helping the community in other ways, too. Many children come to Kibera from rural areas. They’re told they will go to school, but many end up working at home, just to earn their stay. Members of Human Rights Club are standing up for themselves and saying it’s not right, using it as an opportunity educate people from the community.

Human Rights Club has taught me the importance of making time for everyone, no matter their status. I have become a role model for others and I’ve developed the confidence to educate my friends. For example, if someone is taking drugs, I tell them why it’s bad. If someone drops out of school, I explain why they should stay.

I find inspiration in many places, but people like Nelson Mandela encourages me to keep going. He stood for what he believed in and I’ve learnt if you want to change the lifestyle of a community you can do it many ways.