Motivated by their love for the performing arts and a vision of to see a society free of social ills where everybody lives a dignified life, a group of young people in Huruma estate in Nairobi, Kenya, came together and formed PACIFIC Arts Initiative in 2009. The group later rebranded as PACIFIC Arts and Training (PAT), engages youths in the low Income areas of Nairobi and its environs such as Mathare, Kariobangi, Korogocho, Kibera, amongst other areas.
“The love of the arts and the need to earn our daily bread brought us together” Says PAT group chairman, Raymond.
Raymond adds that they are motivated by the young people’s lives they touch through their programs. Some of whom he alludes would otherwise be involved in anti-social activities.
Drawing largely from the traditional way of sharing information and education, PAT uses an array of performing arts in its everyday educational campaigns. They use theatre, music, puppet shows, skits, spoken word poetry, amongst other training kits in advocating for various issues amongst their community.
“The strength of performing arts as an advocacy tool is that it gives the target audience a reference point when discussing certain issues while simplifying complex issues into easily understandable content” says Raymond.
Sexual reproductive health education among school going and out of school youth, gender equity programs, child education and child rights are amongst the broad topics and issues the group seeks to address in the community. This, Raymond says, is transforming youths in the community who would otherwise be involved in crime or other social ills. This success are not without challenges. the group chair adds that despite their outreach, the group still faces a number of challenges.
“We lack adequate capacity in marketing our products and also PAT does not have its own center where it can engage in artistic growth” says Raymond.
PAT is currently hosted at a medical clinic’s compound in Huruma, which often limits their capability and conflicts with the needs of the group. For example they can only practice between 4pm to 6pm on weekdays. Despite this myriad number of challenges, PAT is grateful to PAD for training the group on Capacity building on business growth and development and also on financial management.
“Without the help of PAD, we would be grappling in the dark especially in financial management.” Says Raymond, adding “PAD has opened our eyes to the possibility of widening our clientele base to not only CSO and NGO’s but also to cooperate bodies”.
He also adds that through PAD the group has learnt on the importance of making deliberate effort to market their products. A few years from now, PAT seekss tot establish its own art center and an expanded their business to include; events management, public address sound system hire, tents and seats hire, livestock keeping, conference accommodation facilities and weekend gateways.
“We love what we do” says Raymond, “we’d still do it even if it was not paying”.