Keeping Fit in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements


Since November 2015, our Urban Sports Programme is supported by four amazing young people from South Korea. As Sports Management graduates, they came to support the development of different projects in Kenya and Rwanda for 5 months.

Working in Nairobi is Yunhee and Suheon, who are closely working with our partner organizations on the ground, CHRISC Kenya and Simama Africa, both using sport as a tool for development and social change. Covering number of informal settlements is North-Eastern part of Nairobi, they work with local youth to empower them through sport and games.

Two months in, let’s hear from Yunhee, how her experience in Kenya has been so far…

“I wanna give opportunity to as many young people as possible, to enjoy physical activity. So I run fitness classes in different communities in Nairobi. In December, I mostly worked with Fahari girls at Kasarani Youth Resource Center in Kariobangi. My class is just under one hour and covers everything from warm-up, stretching, main workout to cool down. Every class is different because I want to keep it dynamic and fun yet simple enough for everyone to join and enjoy. Despite the rocky and unsure start, the class proves to be amazing and the girls seem to love it.

Fahari Girls

It wasn’t easy for me at the beginning as the girls are various ages and meeting everyone’s needs and capabilities can be hard. But I’ve accepted the challenge and turned the focus more on the fun element that scores and results. I want to believe that I’ve turned the Wednesdays afternoons around for the girls and that our time together will have a positive impact on them now and in the future.

My work with Simama Africa focuses mainly on sustainability. Here I work mostly with youth leaders. I train them so they can get theoretical as well as practical skills in fitness which they can later pass on to other young people in the communities once we’re gone.

The 3-hour class is designed to cover basic theory, learn practical skills and allow for discussion rounds. The first day, all participants underwent a test of their physical capacity. I was struggling to measure the results without a proper equipment but then I started to improvise. Nothing is impossible when you have a strong will and a bit a creativity.

Fitness test

Here are just few examples of how I resolved the crisis of no available equipment:

  1. No measuring tape (20m) – I picked caution tape on a construction site on the way to class (I admit we struggled with accuracy, but it was as best as I could do)
  2. No mats (for sit-ups) – I used sofa cushion instead
  3. No measuring tape for long jump – I used 30cm ruler and marked each spot with a rock

These are just few examples. We’re at the beginning of our 16 weeks long journey, which I hope will be rewarding to each and everyone of the participants. I hope it will be a stepping stone for them to be better athletes, coaches and leaders”.



1 thought on “Keeping Fit in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements

  1. Rora

    Impeessive! I liked the comment that nothing is impossible with strong will and a bit of creativity. Go for it, Yunhee!

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