Five girls have started a three month in hair and beauty as the Mrembo Girls Program this year expands into economic empowerment. These first trainees are being hosted at the Mrembo Hair & Beauty Salon, which was opened last May to generate funds for the program. Nancy Waweru, Program Director, explains why the program has been expanded, "For some of the girls we work with, social empowerment unfortunately has its limitations. Very needy girls can't even afford the basic essentials and too many turn to older partners, prostitution or settle for unhappy and abusive relationships." "By giving these girls a skill and the means to make a living, they will be able to look after themselves. Coupled with our educational and confidence boosting program, this approach can make a significant impact." The organisation's ambition is to graduate 20 girls during this coming year and there are also plans to offer additional vocational skills including catering and dressmaking. "I taught myself braiding and plaiting and have been making money by doing the neighbours' hair. But there are lots of other skills I need to be taught like manicures and pedicures.Once i have all those other skills, I'll feel confident enough to look for a job." Benta,19 years old. "After my teacher told me about this training course, I wanted to take part so I could build my life. With the skills I'll learn, I'll be able to confidently offer services and in the future open my own business. I've had a passion for hair and beauty for a long time, at school I would plait the other girls hair so I'm really excited for the opportunity." Victoria, 16 years old MREMBO SCORES MAJOR FUNDING It's a momentous year for the Mrembo Girls Program as the initiative scores its first major funding partner. Women Win, a global organisation which uses sport as a strategy to advance women's rights, will fund the program for the next three years. As a result, the program will significantly scale up its work with marginalized girls, aged 10 - 21 years, growing up Nairobi's slums. The Mrembo Girls Program, which educates and counsels girls on issues of sexuality and reproduction, is set to support over 1,000 vulnerable girls in 2013, a five-fold increase on previous years. To drive this expansion, Elizabeth Okinda has been promoted to Program Officer and will be supported by eight experienced peer educators. "Before the Mrembo Girls Program comes to their school, the girls are poorly informed on sex, sexuality and reproduction and this leads to huge social problems such as early pregnancy, child marriages and inter-generational relationships." Elizabeth explains. "With the support of Women Win, we now have the capacity to support so many more girls and help them to lead happy and healthy lives." Hewlett Foundation grants over $2,000 In January, the Mrembo team received the unexpected and exciting news that the Hewlett Foundation was to grant the project $2,058. To honour a retiring board member, the Hewlett Foundation chose to gift 32 GlobalGiving projects which advance the health, rights and economic development of women. "Considering the sheer number of women's projects partnered by GlobalGiving, we were extremely pleased to be singled out as one of just 32 beneficiaries," Nancy Waweru, Program Director for the Mrembo Girls Program, commented. "With the funds, we will be able to strengthen Mrembo's income generating and vocational training divisions. Our 2013 ambition is to establish a restaurant where we can train girls in catering and which will also raise money for the program."
After a long spell of holiday season and working with the community centres and hosting our first ever Anti-corruption soccer tournament at Mcedo primary school,VAP's Anti-corruption crusaders switched the program into schools. Currently we are working with 3 primary schools within Nairobi targeting to graduate 300 students in the next 4 months of the program. At the beginning of the program, the school teachers and students were a little bit skeptical in believing how football can be used to fight corruption device that has been an unhealing wound within the Kenyan society. After going through the basic activities and introduction of the program, the participants started to learn the concept of the program and its anti-corruption messages slowly by slowly. The participants respond in being involved in the program has been massive and positive as the program entails football fun based activities. The show corruption 'red card' program is conducted primarily as an after school program and it fits so well in the school learning system during the extra-curricular activity times.VAP's 2013 goal is to graduate 1000 participants and equip them with messages of high values of integrity and good leadership.
A grand total of $1,563 was raised for the Mrembo Girls Program last month during the Girl Effect GlobalGiving Challenge!
Whilst we did not receive contributions from enough unique donors to be one of the six challenge winners, we have raised enough money to significantly scale up our work with girls in Nairobi’s slums.
First and foremost, we now have enough money to expand the project into the field of economic empowerment. From January, we will be training two adolescent girls at our hair and beauty salon which was opened last May to help raise money for the project.
By gaining a skill, these girls will ultimately be able to provide for themselves and their families, give their children an education and avoid the kind of desperation which forces many young girls into prostitution or abusive relationships.
In addition, we will be able to;
I’ll continue to keep you updated on the Mrembo Girls Program as, I’m sure you will agree, 2013 is set to be an exciting year for the project.
41 young people received free HIV testing at VAP’s third reproductive health tournament in partnership with GOAL Kenya. The event in Korogocho - one of Nairobi’s largest slums where residents have very limited access to healthcare - targeted young mothers from the local community. 36 were screened for cervical cancer wth a further nine benefiting from free family planning. De-worming tablets were also provided to 250 young children.
African women must be involved in national politics
The fourth annual Feminist Leadership and Movement Building Institute (FLAMBI) Conference was held in Nairobi from 5-9 November 2012 and was attended by VAP’s Program Director, Nancy Warweru.
The course, designed to strengthen feminist leadership, strategies and collective power for social transformation in Africa, attracted representatives from over 10 East African organisations. Nancy Warweru, commented on her experience at the conference; “It is clear that women are faced with a myriad of glass ceilings including cultural stereotypes and religious beliefs. "For African women to successfully address female rights, it is paramount that they actively participate in decision making at the national level. As an organisation, advocacy is now an area we are committed to expanding into.”