Last month six EMEA colleagues joined our charity partner, Plan International, on a site visit to CBRE's Safer Cities project in Nairobi, Kenya. They met some of the young people we are aiming to help and saw the shocking reality of living in one of the poorest parts of Kenya.
This is their story.
This is their story.
The focus of our Safer Cities project is a district of Nairobi called Embakasi. Conditions there are unimaginable. Rubbish litters the streets, there is little infrastructure and young people, particularly girls, face daily crime and exploitation. To put life in Embakasi into perspective, our group was accompanied by armed guards. (CBRE team from left to right: Concha Pinera Meana (Spain), Patrik Kallenvret (Sweden), Lucy Aldrich-Smith (EMEA), Conrad Mills (GWS Africa), Jonny Hull (EMEA), Elizabeth Simiyu (GWS Kenya))
It's unbelievable to think that the children's school sits next to this toxic rubbish tip.
Sewage runs openly through the local park in Embakasi. Most children, particularly girls, choose to stay away because drugs and guns make the park too dangerous.
Conditions in Embakasi show how privileged our own lives are in comparison.
Despite facing such harsh daily conditions, young people living in Embakasi have the most incredible spirit. They need and deserve a safer environment and through our work with Plan International, CBRE can help to make this possible. "These children are some of the most amazing young people I have ever met" - Jonny Hull
The stories of the people we met will stay with us forever. Embakasi has no street lights or infrastructure and poverty, combined with unemployment drives extreme crime. Imagine how that feels for a young person - every single day. Concha from our Spanish business speaks to local children about daily life in Embakasi.
"There are no street lights and a lot of crime. My shoes have been stolen. Worse can happen though" - Embakasi boy (age 10)
Plan and CBRE's Safer Cities project aims to help change young people's lives by improving local infrastructure and working with the community to transform the district of Embakasi into a place of inclusion and opportunity. This inspiring young mentor group is helping Embakasi children to stay out of gangs.
During our visit we met an amazing group of 18-24 year olds who have formed a mentor group called 'Jipange'. The group helps local school children to report gun and drug crime and stay out of gangs. They also work with the government to drive change in their local community. Some of CBRE's funds will support the vital work of groups like this in Embakasi. "I joined Jipange to mentor kids and keep them out of gangs. Plan and CBRE help make this possible" - Embakasi girl (age 22)
On of the most inspiring moments of our trip was a visit to an Embakasi school. In a world where children have so little, the desire to obtain an education and find a better life was overwhelming. Going to school means everything to children in Embakasi.
Buses are unreliable and unsafe. CBRE's project will help children to get to and from school more safely.
"Discrimination against girls was evident everywhere - our Safer Cities project will help educate the community and give these girls the chance they deserve" - Lucy Aldrich-Smith
Seeing the conditions facing young people in Embakasi made us appreciate the scale of the problem and the need for action. One of the most significant moments of our trip was a meeting with the Kenyan government, Plan International and Embakasi's young community leaders to build relationships, demonstrate CBRE's support and agree a plan for action. Our meeting with the government and local community leaders in Embakasi was a crucial part of our trip.
Also joining us on the trip were Conrad Mills and Elizabeth Simiyi from our GWS Africa team. Their involvement in the project is significant as it means that in addition to fundraising, we will be able to support Safer Cities on the ground in Nairobi. One idea we are exploring is a mentoring scheme for some of the young people that we met. Our direct participation in projects like Safer Cities not only changes young people's lives, it is also increasingly important to our clients in Africa. GWS Africa colleagues Conrad and Elizabeth spent the day with the CBRE team in Embakasi.
"Everywhere we went people had shocking stories to share - it was a very humbling experience" - Jonny Hull
It is difficult to express how eye opening it is to meet people who live beyond the daily comforts of our western world. These are young people living in our own EMEA region forced to exist in shocking conditions. "We brought pencils and sweets for the children. They were some of the most inspiring young people I have ever met" - Patrik Kallenvret
"Reporting crime is like suicide. The police can be corrupt and release criminals with a bribe. We need to change this" - Embakasi boy (age 18)
Patrik Kallenvret and Jonny Hull hear about life in a Nairobi slum
In a lighter moment, Patrik shares a Swedish song with an amused group of Embakasi school children
Over the next two years CBRE's ambition is to contribute €650,000 to our Safer Cities project in Embakasi, as well as providing pro bono support on the ground, such as mentoring and apprenticeship programmes. This target includes at least €200,000 in employee fundraising.
110 colleagues, clients and sponsors cycled 670 km in June to support our Safer Cities Project
CBRE's UK team celebrate after winning Plan International's 'Champions of Change' charity football event at Chelsea Football Stadium
Our compliance team in France organised a cocktail party with all funds raised going to our Safer Cities project