Mathare Youth Talented Organization


MYTO History

In 2004, Mathare was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Nairobi. According to Mathare residents, there were frequent muggings, rapes, and drug deals. Mathare resident Ben Ochieng decided to start a youth group to do development work in the community after seeing TV documentaries about youth groups starting development projects in other parts of Kenya. Together with Elizabeth Otieno and Okidi Onesmus, he founded the Mathare Youth Talented Organization (MYTO) on May 2nd, 2004. Their mission statement is “to transform youths from uncalled for social interaction to capable youths who can be a resource to society.” 

MYTO’s first project was a school for orphans and other children who could not afford school fees. They recruited teachers to teach voluntarily, as the students in MYTO schools do not pay a set school fee but contribute what money they can. The school started with just three children, but quickly expanded. In 2005, MYTO rented a church’s building for the first official classroom. They began to rent a second and a third classroom in 2006 and in 2007. Currently, MYTO schools instruct 153 orphans and vulnerable children who cannot afford mandatory school fees. 

In 2006, MYTO expanded their focus to other areas of community development. They started the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA). MYSA created a youth soccer league, with the stipulation that teams must consist of at least one member of each major ethnic group in Mathare. Also in 2006, MYTO started the Miss City pageant for young women to gain a presence in the community. In 2007, they started a microfinance organization, which gives small loans to support Mathare women with small businesses. In late September of 2007, MYTO also began their annual community clean-up day, Usafi Ujami, meaning Cleanliness for Community in Kiswahili. Also in that year, they partnered with organization such as the Art of Living and Men for Gender Equality Now to create awareness campaigns on issues such as the Millennium Development Goals, gender equality, and human rights.  Currently, MYTO is creating a youth resource center where they are hoping to have space for educational workshops, a library, and internet access.

MYTO quickly gained recognition around Mathare, and interested youth approached MYTO leaders asking how they could start a youth group of their own. Ben, Okidi, and Elizabeth advised them on community building, and soon Mathare saw the emergence of many youth groups in the smaller neighborhoods within Mathare, such as the Single Mother’s group, Kiliminagro Youth Group, Mathare Community Youth Organization, Kinga Women’s Group, and the Mathare Ladies Empowerment Association (MLEA). MYTO’s success also spread outside of Kenya; in the past few years MYTO has worked with various students interested in community development, from universities in Germany, Italy, and the United States. 

MYTO currently has thirty-five members who meet once a week on Sundays to discuss future projects. They include:

1.)    Finding a larger office which can also serve as a youth resource center and community meeting space.

2.)    Expanding MYTO’s schools to accommodate more students. They also hope to teach high school students.

3.)    Creating an event planning business to provide income for MYTO.  

4.)    An international exchange program with other universities.

5.)    Mobile campaigns which would travel to rural areas and hold educational programs.

6.)    Tents, chairs, and a public address system that can be rented out as an income-generating activity for the group. 

7.)    A freezer so the group can sell ice cream. 

8.)    Peace building workshops to train community members in conflict resolution and community development. 

They are currently raising money for these projects through the microfinance group.


Dan Owiti: Secretary, Environmental projects

Ben Ochieng: MYTO Coordinator

Okidi Onesmus: Administration

Esther Odhiambo: MYTO Instructor, Environmental projects

Elizabeth Otieno: MYTO Coordinator

Olik Lobedus: MYTO Music

Winnie Akinyi: Miss City Program

Wycliff Otieno: MYSA

Milka Atieno: Elijah Children’s Home

Previous sources of funding:

Art of Living, Youth Initiatives Kenya (YIKE), Global Field Evangalism, Environmental Youth Alliance, Mobile Movement.

Area of Acknowledgement:

MYTO would like to thank the following people for their help in making MYTO's activities possible: