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Francis Odhiambo

Co-Founder, Chezacheza

Bold Question: What if children and youth in vulnerable communities were equipped with skills and tools to enable them to unlock their full potential?

Path to Metis: Africa’s largest urban slum, Kibera, is infamous for crime, violence and widespread drug abuse. This, however, is home to thousands of innocent youth and children in the area. For Francis and thousands of other youth that reside here, keeping off these vices comes with a lot of pressure. “All I wanted was a safe space that gave me the right tools to handle my challenges.” He narrates.

Francis found a safe haven in dance and quickly aimed to spread the light with children in the neighbourhood. He would provide dance lessons to keep them off the street and engaged in something positive. This seemingly small gesture became so popular that the kids would flood at his doorstep on Saturday mornings, asking to dance. Through his impact through dance, he noted changes in their behaviour, positive attitudes, rise in self-esteem, and improved communication skills amongst his students. That was the moment he uncovered the life-changing effects of dance.

He later met Cherrelle Druppers, an education and development enthusiast, who recognised the life skills he and his best friend, Collins, were teaching in their classes. She saw how they taught the children self-esteem, how to collaborate and think creatively in a safe and free space. Life skills for these children are essential while they can support them in decision making and manage the challenges they face. Together they founded ChezaCheza and focused on life skills education through dance and started to develop their curriculum.

“Personally I don't believe that our background defines us. what defines you is your thinking and your imagination of your self and that's who you will turn to be. Maybe I might not be able to change every building in the informal settlements but what I can do is build strong minds from the informal settlements to change the informal settlements.” He closes.

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Francis Odhiambo
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