Hamilton Ayiera is an impressive personality. He achieved something which seems out of range for most of the young people growing up and living in the Korogocho slum of Nairobi. With his contagious example he proved to many kids how a single person can make a difference even under the most difficult circumstances. Over the last ten years Hamilton Ayiera Nyanga has become a role model for many. Thomas Schwarz had the opportunity to speak with him.
Mr Ayiera, you are the founder of the initiative which is named after you. This was nothing anyone would have predicted when you grew up. Your and your family’s living conditions were anything else but easy.
That’s true. No one would have predicted that when I was a child. Since last year we have our Centre in Korgocho built and – it is working very well. We reach out to more than a thousand young people and / or children who wouldn’t have any chance without us. I’m 35 years old now, and I am proud of what I have achieved so far. But, you can imagine, there is a lot more to do.
You were born here in Korogocho, and you grew up here as well. Korogocho is the third largest slum in Nairobi. How did you grow up?
I was born from a poor family, grew up under very difficult circumstances just like other slum children did and still do. I did not get the opportunity to complete my high school studies due to lack of school fees. It was impossible for my parents to get the money together for it.
So my dream were completely shuttered, I had no option but to turn at the nearby dumping site to scavenge for food and scrap metals and sell them to recyclers. Still today hundreds of children are going to the dumping site and collect „valuables“ they can sell to a dealer. It is very bad for the health of the kids. They inhale all the dirty air which is produced by burning litter and rubbish.
But then, almost out of a sudden, you received the opportunity to go to South Africa. That was in 2006. One of the main reasons was, of course, that you were a very good football player. But the trip has changed your life.
O yes, very much so. I got a life changing opportunity that year. I was selected to represent Kenya in a football tournament named „Homeless World Cup“. This tournament was held in Cape Town, South Africa. It gave homeless people a chance to change their own lives. I cannot sufficiently subscribe what this opportunity meant to me.
But was probably not only the trip as such, I can imagine. It was also the opportunity to getting out of the slum for a couple of days. And, last but not least, it was also the start of your completely new life.
That’s true. When I came back to my community, to the Korogocho slum I had a strong desire to use the power of sports. This is, by the way, what we are still doing today. It means to address social challenges that affect Korogocho slum negatively. That strong wish lead me to start Ayiera Initiative.
This initiative is a community based, charitable and a pure „sports for development“ organisation. Ayiera Initiative uses sports in particular to help young kids to finding a way out of the grunge of their lives. Football, or as we call it „Slum Footie“ is a very well working catalyst. It helps to reach positive social change and development in Korogocho.
My residency is in south Jersey and I’ve been assisting the less fortunate in my home country Kenya supplying used soccer equipment. I get equipment’s from local soccer clubs and its easier since I also do coach soccer to local junior clubs. Your story is as captivating as the numerous soccer clubs emanating from slums across the globe, I’d like to suggest a website where all these organizations are linked to brainstorm on ideas of how to get out of the squalid realms of life. Just an Fyi I solely finance all my projects I’m not affiliated with anyone or any non for profit.