Stories of change and empowerment

"We can’t change people, but we can plant seeds that may one day bloom in them"

Sprouts - stories of Change and Empowerment is a new video series by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (Aics) Nairobi that aims to give voice to the people.

Through cooperation initiatives, the actors composing the Italian system of development cooperation have contributed to planting a seed in their lives, a seed which in many cases grew into something beautiful and is having a long-lasting positive impact on many communities.

We want these people to be protagonists of their own stories, which inspire both our work and the lives of other people.


The stories

Beatrice Neigesa

Seamstress and taylor, Nairobi

Beatrice's story is touching. She was an orphan from an early age, but thanks to her tenacity she managed to realize her dream: to open her own tailoring shop in which not only to make repairs, but above all to be able to design and create her own clothing. Beatrice hopes to be able to help many other young people in their professional and personal journey, accompanying and supporting them, because "every person is different, and can change the world in a different way".

"I would like to be able to create job opportunities for young people and vulnerable people in the community. One day I will be able to support other young people and make them fly to achieve their dreams"

Despite the many difficulties that her life has placed before her, Beatrice has made her dream come true and she is not afraid to dream again and to dream bigger. She therefore wants her story to not only be an inspiration to young people but also wants her to help leaders and people in positions of responsibility create an enabling environment for young people to realize their potential.

Lucy Ngorongo

Founder and CEO of Junky Bins, Nairobi

Lucy is an active woman fighting climate change through her work. You founded and currently run Junky Bins, a company that recovers materials from waste. The collected waste is then divided and then resold to companies that recycle it or reuse the materials. Her goal? A world where there is Zero Waste and Zero Landfill. Lucy participated in some training courses held by the E4Impact foundation, supported by AICS, which allowed her to expand her business.

"Women, what a man can do, a woman can do better! I am a testimony to this: I founded a successful company, which is among the best recovery and recycling companies in Nairobi"

Lucy is an example of the potential that exists in every woman, and is an example of how, from scratch, it is possible to create a company and contribute, in one's own small way, to fighting pollution and climate change. The Italian Cooperation works incessantly to support job creation and against climate change, and this is an example of success.


Dr. Washington Njogu

Director of Medical Services at Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital, Nairobi

Dr. Njogu studied medicine at the University of Perugia and then came back to Kenya. Born from the desire and commitment of an Italian NGO, World Friends – an association that has made the defence of the right to health of men, women and children its mission – Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital is now a multi-purpose structure, able to assist over 100 thousand patients every year, with a general surgery, specialist clinics, emergency services, maternity and pediatric departments, laboratory, pharmacy, physiotherapy, radiology, general surgery, pediatric, orthopaedic-corrective, obstetric-gynaecological, health education services and nutrition offered both within the hospital and on the territory.

"For the young people, I think I'd advise them to follow their dreams! My dream was to study medicine, I was given that chance and now I'm happy of what I do"

Dr. Njogu's commitment to providing quality health services for those who come from the informal settlements of Nairobi is not just coming from his job, but it is coming from the firm belief that health should not be the privilege of a few, but a right for everyone. He truly is an example of change, an example of how the Italian Cooperation planted a seed that has now grown into a beautiful tree!


Julius Mwelu

Photographer and founder at Mwelu Foundation, Mathare

Julius Mwelu received a small contribution from the Italian Cooperation at the end of the 90s. Thanks to this little support, Julius founded and is still the head of the Mwelu Foundation, which operates in the informal settlement of Mathare, Nairobi. Mathare is one of the poorest settlements in the country, with high crime rates and very difficult living conditions. The Foundation takes care of teaching the art of photography to the young and very young of Mathare, with theoretical classes and practical sections. Julius's goal is to have its own structure and create a library, a safe and dignified place where the slum kids can study and meet.

"We used to see our brothers shooting with guns in the slum. We wanted to change this. Now they are still shooting, but with cameras and not with guns."

Julius decided to pursue his passion for photography and use it as a means to change the society around him. In the informal settlement of Mathare, a no-go zone for tourists or outsiders, the Mwelu Foundation provides a safe space for youths to learn skills that will help them in their future life. 


Viola Jemutai

Specialized technician for BMW Kenya, Nairobi

Viola studied mechanics at the Vocational Training Institute of St. Kizito, in Nairobi. A few years after graduation, she was selected for a position as OEM Technician for BMW Kenya. The St. Kizito VTI, founded by Avsi in 1994 thanks to funding from the Italian Cooperation and supported over time by various initiatives of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, offers young people the opportunity to build their future through holistic training by equipping them with technical and managerial skills. The institute trains 800 young people a year through courses in computer, mechanical, plumbing, carpentry, catering, company secretarial, electronic, hairdresser and beautician courses lasting from three months to two years.

"What I can tell to the people who are watching me now is: Dreams are valid. When I reflect on my journey, on what I've gone through, I would not be here inspiring you guys, telling you it is possible."

Viola strongly believes that getting out of our comfort zone is one of the key ingredients for success in life. By sharing her personal story, she wants others to feel inspired, to feel empowered, to know that "it is possible". This is true in particular for women, who too often tend to think they are not good enough. Dreams are valid!


Dr. Opira Cyprian

Radiologist and Medical Director of St. Mary Hospital in Lacor (Uganda)

Doctor Opira Cyprian is a radiologist and medical director at St. Mary Hospital in Lacor, northern Uganda. He had the opportunity to study medicine in Milan thanks to a scholarship offered by the Italian Cooperation / Aics and specialized in the science of imaging and radiology. Since 1994 he has worked at Lacor Hospital, a hospital that provides services to people living in Northern Uganda and is in fact the largest non-profit hospital in equatorial Africa. The facility is able to accommodate and treat more than 250,000 patients each year. Born as a small missionary hospital of the Comboni Missionaries in 1959, today it represents a point of reference for the 750,000 inhabitants of the district, even if many patients come here seeking treatment and assistance from all over Northern Uganda.

"North-South cooperation must continue. Young people must be able to study and acquire skills and then return home and put those skills at the service of their community"

Dr. Cyprian was for many years the only radiologist in Northern Uganda. The scholarship he received in the past from the Italian cooperation allowed him to study radiology in Italy and then return as a radiologist to Lacor. His skills are a precious resource not only for the hospital, but for the entire north of the country.