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The Inspiring Story of Nai Nami: Empowering Youth Through Street Skills

In the bustling heart of Nairobi lies a transformative initiative that not only offers an immersive experience for travellers but also serves as a beacon of hope for disadvantaged youth – Nai Nami.

This is not just any social enterprise – Nai Nami Street Tours, founded in 2018, is a project with a mission.

The aim? To rewrite the narratives of former street children who have lived and breathed the very streets they are educating people on, harnessing their street skills and intriguing life stories to pave the way for a brighter future.

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The Nai Nami Experience: a personal journey through Nairobi

Imagine traversing the vibrant streets of Downtown Nairobi, guided not by conventional tour guides – but by individuals who once called these very streets home.

The Nai Nami Tour offers this unique opportunity – a 3-hour storytelling experience led by former street children turned guides.

Each pair of participants is assigned a personal guide, facilitating an intimate exchange, and allowing for deep insights into life as a street child.

From streets to stability

For many children in Nairobi’s slums otherwise known as Kibera slums, poverty and a lack of role models force them onto the streets at a young age, where they face a harsh reality of crime, hustle, and uncertainty.

Poverty is not just a condition but a pervasive force that infiltrates every aspect of daily life. Families struggle to make ends meet, often living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, with limited access to basic amenities like clean water, education, and healthcare.

In such environments, the concept of childhood as a time of innocence and carefree joy often remains elusive.

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In the absence of adequate parental guidance and support, children in these slums are left vulnerable to the harsh realities of their surroundings.

With few positive role models to emulate, they are thrust into a world where survival becomes the primary objective. As the pressures of poverty weigh heavily on their families, children are often forced to fend for themselves from a young age, seeking out opportunities to contribute to the household income.

For many of these children, the streets of Nairobi’s slums offer both refuge and peril. On one hand, they provide a sense of freedom and autonomy, away from the confines of their crowded homes. On the other hand, they present a dangerous and unpredictable environment, where crime, exploitation and violence lurk around every corner.

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Without access to formal education or stable employment opportunities, these children find themselves drawn into a cycle of depression and survival. So, what do they turn to?

Hustling becomes a way of life, as they engage in activities like scavenging for recyclable materials, washing cars or selling goods in the streets to earn a meagre income. In their quest to earn a living, they often encounter the darker side of urban life, including involvement in petty crime or substance abuse.

Nai Nami stands as a beacon of hope in this landscape, offering these youth a lifeline through full-time employment and a stable income. By providing alternative pathways for these vulnerable youth, such programs offer a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness. Rather than focusing on weaknesses, Nai Nami embraces the strengths of these youth – their street skills and life stories.

By providing them with opportunities to share their experiences as city guides, Nai Nami enables them to create value for society while earning a regular income. This not only empowers them financially but also instils a sense of pride and purpose.

Impact beyond the streets

The impact of Nai Nami extends far beyond financial stability.

Through exposure to diverse cultures and interactions with travellers from around the world, the guides’ self-confidence soars, opening doors to new possibilities and broadening their horizons.

They transition from being seen as former criminals to respected members of their communities, serving as role models for other youth and proving that a life free of crime is attainable.

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Nai Nami’s vision for the future

As Nai Nami embarks on its journey of growth and expansion, its vision extends far beyond the confines of Nairobi’s streets. While the core mission remains centred on empowering disadvantaged youth, the initiative recognises the importance of embracing innovation and inclusivity to effect lasting change.

One avenue through which Nai Nami seeks to broaden its impact is by offering ‘Sheng lessons’ to tourists. ‘Sheng’, a vibrant street slang derived from Kiswahili and other languages, is an integral part of Nairobi’s urban culture. By teaching tourists the intricacies of Sheng, Nai Nami not only enhances their cultural immersion but also provides additional income-generating opportunities for its guides. These lessons serve as a bridge between visitors and the local community, fostering understanding and appreciation across cultural boundaries.

As Nai Nami continues to grow, its vision expands to encompass even more opportunities for the youth it serves. From offering Sheng lessons to tourists to empowering women through new projects, Nai Nami is committed to promoting its approach globally, challenging traditional perceptions of disadvantage and showcasing the potential for transformation.

Join the movement: changing lives one tour at a time

By participating in a Nai Nami Tour, travellers not only gain a deeper understanding of Nairobi’s streets but also become agents of change, contributing to the empowerment and transformation of the youth who lead these tours. With every step taken through downtown Nairobi, a story unfolds – one of resilience, hope, and the power of community.

If you are interested in finding out more information about Nai Nami, get in touch with our team today.