As part of VAP’s annual thematic football tournaments, the month of April was quite ideal to host the 3rd edition of Mrembo football tournament on various reasons the main one being a holiday month when all school children were on vocation. The one day tournament held on 26th at Kiambio grounds attracted 16 teams aged between 13-21 years from all the walks of Eastlands part of Nairobi who gathered under the theme of “personal hygiene and menstruation”. The football games and the presence of Mrembo peer educators who interacted with the teams and conducted off pitch sensitization interventions with emphasis on biological process of menstruation and how to use different sanitary pads made the chemistry and camaraderie to work so well for the day. Majority of the girls were interested in the menstruation topic which raised vital discussions amongst themselves and the peer educators who were at hand to address the burning questions and concerns. The winners and the runners up were both awarded with vouchers from the Mrembo Beauty and parlor and supermarket vouchers.
What started as a football club in 2003 transformed to be a vehicle of social change a few years later. Enouce Ndeche (VAP founder) attended a seminar on sports for social change in Nairobi in 200. A staff from Global Giving talked about how grassroots projects like VAP would benefit from online fundraising. About three months later, Enouce registered Skillz HIV program (a program that uses soccer to educate children and youth on HIV and life skills) on GlobalGiving. The idea came in handy as fundraising issue was something that VAP was grappling with given the fact that it was just a start-up organization with no strong financial stability and capacity to approach major foundations for funding. Young girls growing up in Kenya lack information pertaining their sexuality and reproductive health. These are topics which are rarely discussed in an African context.
In 2008 Mrembo girls program which creates a safe space for girls to discuss and share issues pertaining their reproductive health and sexuality was born. The program uses soccer as a tool to reach out to vulnerable girls in Nairobi slums. GlobalGiving was the only source of income for the project. The first disbursement in January 2009 enabled us to purchase a fridge and put in our small cubicle office. We started selling sodas to nearby offices, and money raised was used to purchase sanitary towels for our girls who couldn’t afford. The girls were assured of not missing schools during those days and they could also not miss out on football trainings.
Through GlobalGiving, mrembo program is running in schools and community centers in Nairobi. The program works with peer educators who act as mentors in communities where there are few role models. In 2011 it was an honor for Mrembo program to host Marc Maxson from GlobalGiving in one of the graduations to present certificates to the girls who would later act as change agents to their peers. We knew that we were transforming lives and nurturing leaders in our girls program. But again the question was how sure we were.
Storytelling was an answer to this question. Through the storytelling project, VAP peer educators and staff were trained on how to collect stories by GlobalGiving. Mrembo program embraced the project and would collect more than 100 stories from our participants. It was quite encouraging to hear directly from our girls about the program:
‘Mrembo program has helped me know if a man sweet talk you with money don't go. Mrembo program has taught me that if a man touches me I should scream and if a man tries to trick me with money I should not go’. - a 16 year old girl from Majengo slums.
‘Mrembo has tought me good manners and to have good friends. I love mrembo’.- 13 years old, Shauri Moyo.
We also learnt that from the stories, girls would narrate more on sexual abuse. We knew that sexual abuse was a major problem in Nairobi slums but through the stories it was quite vivid. We decided to come up with a beauty pageant called Miss Mrembo tournament. Girls would play soccer and also engage in self esteem talks with peer educators. We would invite Nairobi Women’s hospital (one of our referral centers) counselors/nurses to talk more about Gender Based V violence and to let girls know about free medical treatment for Gender based violence survivors.
In addition to storytelling, VAP use scorecard to monitor and evaluate its programs. Our partner grassroot soccer has consistently been training our M&E team on how to collect and feed M&E data to the score card. The card captures pre and post analysis which evaluates behavior change attitude and knowledge gained e.g. on HIV. The scorecard also captures the schools and community centers that we have worked with, number of participants their age&sex and number of peer educators implementing the program. During 2012 girl child effect challenge through Global Giving, our mrembo program launched vocational training program in 2013. It commenced with impacting girls with hairdressing and beauty skills. Up to now more than 15 girls have participated in the program. Some of the girls have advanced the course in other institutions while others are employed in different saloons.
Currently VAP is working with 2754 participants in our HIV skillz program, 1200 girls in our mrembo girls program. We have come this far as a result of generous contributions through our friends, GlobalGiving ,GlobalGiving individual &Corporate donors, our other partners and members.
We remain extremely thankful to for their overwhelming support.
Following the impressiveness and success of Kick-out corruption program in different community centres and schools, the demand of having the program in other schools and centres is rising up on a daily basis. After having completed the program in 4 schools and two community centres, Mr.Joseph Atulo, the head teacher from Calvary educational centre who was visiting Kiragu primary school when the program was on going, happened to get a first hand opportunity to witness kick-out corruption program at Kiragu school. After his witnessing, he enquired from the program implementers if he could have the program at his school as well. Immediately after the completion of the program at Kiragu school, focus shifted to his school at Calvary education centre where a total of 150 student participants aged 12-15 years old both boys and girls are currently participating in the program. Asked why he was interested in the program, this is what Mr. Joseph said “There is great need of this program in this school and given the fact that we are all nurturing future leaders, I think it’s more important they start to know the dangers of corruption right from the tender ages so that when they grow up and become leaders, they can be leaders of integrity who can spur this nation to a greater height as far as development is concerned.” “I feel so proud to be part of the Kick-Out corruption program because my dream is to become a great leader and I know I can’t achieve this if I don’t learn integrity issues and the dangers of corruption. This is something that teachers don’t teach us, but am glad to be able to receive from VAP organization.” Said Naftali Bonzo,a 13 years old program participant from Calvary Educational centre.