Ujima is an old Swahili word that means “achieved with the help of others”. Founded in 2003, Ujima foundation is a sustainable urban development organization providing employability training to orphaned youngsters that are taking full responsibility for their younger siblings. Unique to Ujima’s approach, we own and run two income-generating properties and a Capacity Building programme to financially sustain our training programme.
Ujima believes all children should grow up in a family set up, and, every year, through training, job exposure and mediation with employers, we enable 240 new youth to access gainful employment, become self-reliant and better support their families. Ujima believes the best support we can give our beneficiaries are the tools they need for self-support. We want our youth to shift from viewing themselves as victims, become managers of their lives and find financial independence so they support themselves and children in their care. Significant of Ujima is the fact that we do not stop at the training certificates. We work with our trainees until they find jobs, and follow them to their second month in employment.
Ujima works to empower orphaned youth towards self-reliance so that they are able to support themselves and the children in their care. Ujima believes the best support we can give our beneficiaries are the tools they need for self-support. We want our communities to be empowered to self-reliance because we think this is the most sustainable way to individual and community development.
Ujima believes children develop better in their families and should be cared for in familial environment for as long as possible. As argued by Reid (1993), families do not cease to exist when parents die. We refer to a 2009 UNDP—University of Illinois study conducted by Dr. Anyieko MA PHD on the status, needs and skills of orphans citing interviews by single parents to child-headed households. The study concluded that when a child is retained within familial environment, regardless of economic challenges within the family, that opportunity fosters psychosocial development and allows them to know their extended families and peers of similar culture, and provides a good sense of security and belonging that best promotes their social, mental and emotional developments, and by consequence, their socio-economic status in the long-run.
To model its employability curriculum, Ujima conducted a needs assessment in 2005 with employers in Nakuru hotels concerning challenges with junior staff. The findings concluded most staff lacked adequate skills in communication, conflict management and problem solving, and several had negative attitudes towards work and employers, and were unable to balance work and the demands of family life. A similar study conducted in Kisumu in 2006 concluded similar findings. We have modeled our training programme to fill those gaps and conduct annual evaluations to update our method to trends in industry needs.