In Githurai’s bustling social hall, the stage was set for something crucial – the Tahadhari Athari za Kamari Awareness Day. Here, in Nairobi’s vibrant heart, local youths gathered, glued to their phones, not just scrolling social media but eyeing football matches to bet on. This scene perfectly sets the tone for a day dedicated to addressing the risky business of gambling.

The event, powered by the Yali Transformation Fund and USAID, brought together GASK leaders and experts. Leading the charge was Rhoda Murugi, a seasoned addiction counsellor. She peeled back the layers of gambling harm, revealing how this $2 billion industry has morphed into a youth menace in Kenya. Surprisingly, many youths, like ‘Makau’ (not his real name), confessed their addiction to sports betting despite the repeated losses that left them financially drained.

A Chilling Reality

Makau’s story wasn’t unique. Many youths, aware of their downward spiral, felt trapped in the betting cycle. Kelvin (also a pseudonym) openly shared his struggle with gambling addiction. The event spotlighted a harsh truth: unemployment and idleness fueled this betting frenzy among Kenyan youths, offering an imaginary escape from reality.

Rhoda pointed out a startling paradox: “The more one loses, the more they bet.” With over 10 million Kenyans betting daily, the chance of winning was a mere 0.01%. This addiction, likened to drug abuse, preyed on the youth’s vulnerability, idleness, and susceptibility to poor decision-making.

Amidst the seriousness, Freddy G Music lightened the mood, offering a chance for the attendees to unwind and reflect. His music brought joy and a moment of respite, allowing the youths to ponder the day’s insights.

Voices of Change

The event’s second half, led by GASK’s Nelson Bwire and Weldon Koros, saw volunteers like Mike sharing heartfelt stories of how betting had impacted their lives. These narratives underscored the need for urgent action and awareness. 

Given its omnipresence, Mike’s probing question about controlling the urge to gamble sparked a deep panel discussion. The conversation wasn’t just talk but a call to action for everyone involved – from individuals to leaders and the government.

The Path Forward

The day concluded with a strong message: it’s time to act against the harmful effects of betting and gambling. Attendees were encouraged to spread the word and promote responsible behaviour. This event wasn’t just a one-off; it marked the beginning of a movement to tackle harmful gambling, a catalyst for change in the community.

As the Tahadhari Athari za Kamari Awareness Day wrapped up, it left behind not just memories but a renewed commitment to combating the perils of gambling – a mission far from over, a battle just beginning. TIME TO ACT!

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