Ghetto Classics youth orchestra violinists play during their weekly practice.
Youth orchestra transforming lives in Nairobi slum
Korogocho slum is the fourth largest in Nairobi, Kenya. Life is tough for many of its approximately 200,000 inhabitants.
Many youth, having given up on finding proper jobs with a stable income, turn to crime or prostitution. ‘I’m not a dangerous man, but we have to do whatever we can to support our families, to survive’, one man said, adding that he had been rehabilitated and now is trying to expand his business of a small training gym in a tin shack.
Ghetto Classics, the Kenyan Youth Orchestra, started in 2008 as a joint project with the Art Of Music Foundation, is directed by Elizabeth Njoroge. It has some 40 members who practice with mostly donated instruments every week in Korogocho, where hundreds of thousands of people live in impoverished and hostile environments.
Having played for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Pope Francis during his visit to the country in late last year, the project currently teaches classical music to some 600 students all over Nairobi. Njoroge says she hopes to teach the youth of the slum, important life skills and to transform their lives using the art and disciplines that come with learning classical music.
The programme also provides the members with income generating opportunities. Through the help of corporate sponsors, many of the orchestra members have been able to stay in school without the worry of fees payment.