A total of 20 girls from Mrembo project gathered together for the first Girl Talk Forum (GTF) that was scheduled at Kiambui grounds. The forum was officially opened by the Mrembo project officer, Nancy Waweru who expressed welcoming remarks to all the attendees. Also to officially open the forum was Christine Adhiambo.”This is a great occasion that I have been looking forward to learn, network and exchange ideas and stories, especially regarding reproductive issues that are very critical towards our lives as girls. It makes me feel complete and ready to protect my future and girlhood life as I grow up, thanks for all the donors and supporters who have turned this into a reality.” Said 13year old Christine Adhiambo, a program beneficiary.
The forum created some group discussions and questionnaires to all the participants who also included girls from the neighbouring slum areas who converged to this great opportunity of their life. Group were engaged in various topics that allowed them to explore issues relating to reproductive health and gained the skills necessary to lead pro-active lives. These topics included critical thinking, communication, self-esteem, and decision making amongst others. The forum required active participation and created a team-based environment in which participants comfortably shared their feelings, beliefs and ideas about their sexual risks as young girls. One of the major issue talked about which is more prevalent in slum areas is the relationship of older men who lure young girls/school girls to have sex with them. “When I was 12 years old and still in grade 2, I came face to face with the ordeal! I was approached by a 50 year old man who had a pack of candies. He wanted me to follow him to his house and promised to give me the candies once we sleep together, but with my immature brains I had already read his minds and I run so fast to our home.'Said one of the girls..
The one day forum was very much educational and more informative to all the participants. “This has been an eye opener not only to me but to many of us who have gathered here! and even those who couldn’t manage to make, we believe that for us who have attended, we will go out and spread out the information we have learnt to our peers and the entire community that we serve. We would wish to have more of this forum in the future and have the days extended to 2/3 so that we can fully acquire more information and discussions.” Said one of the mrembo girls.
The Mrembo project is highly appreciating its donors for making this forum a big success and is requesting for more donations to arrange more forums of this nature in the future. In the meantime, we welcome any feedback from our extinguished donors because this is the only way to make us move forward. We THANK YOU so much!!
For the second time, world football governing body FIFA through its Corporate Social Responsibility granted Vijana Amani Pamoja, (VAP) with funds to boost its grassrootsoccer project that creates awareness of HIV/AIDS through a soccer themed curriculum. The FIFA funding to VAP came via a strategic alliance geared towards the Millennium Development Goals between streetfooballworld; www.streetfootballworld.org and FIFA.The two have been using football as an instrument for social development for many years in a variety of ways. “We as VAP feel very much honoured and privileged to secure FIFA funds again for the second year running. Through the first funding we were able to reach out to our goals and graduated the targeted number of 2,500 students who were equipped with HIV/AIDS information and were certified as HIV ambassadors. This funding creates more trust and believe from FIFA and other donors whom we appreciate a lot for their continued support. We also believe the power of opinions, suggestions and questions in order to move forward and I take this opportunity to welcome feedback from our extinguished donors.”Said, Nancy Waweru, program officer.
Michael Acton and Christine Illanes are students who traveled throughout Africa and visited a number of GlobalGiving projects. On March 17th they visited "Using the power of soccer to fight HIV/AIDS." When asked what they would tell their friends about this project, they said: “Great: They are making a difference."
We visited Nancy in her office that CASL shares with Best Buddies Kenya. It was a small room that was full of activity. People would call or stop by to see what the next steps were.
That afternoon we went to visit a slum where some of the volunteers visit schools to discuss HIV/AIDS. In one classroom we watched a training session as they reviewed methods by which HIV/AIDS can and cannot be transmitted. They also discussed ways to support those infected by HIV/AIDS. We were a little surprised at the age of the children as they openly discussed topics that would not be mentioned in western classrooms. That's when it hit us that this was not a lesson in HIV/AIDS theory to be known but with consequences hardly faced, but that this was a part of their daily life.
I met Nancy Njeri from the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL), which changed their name from CASL to something in Swahili. While I can’t remember what the new name is, the new acronym is VAP. The original plan was to meet only with VAP, but I discovered that Best Buddies and VAP are run by the same people, so I ended up meeting with both. It was a hectic day, and totally exhausting, but well worth it! While the building that their “office” is in looked really fancy from the outside, the office itself was the size of a closet. They made the most of it, cramming 2 desks with computers and a small refrigerator (for selling drinks to support the project). Nancy, and VAP, loves Global Giving since it was the first to finance their activities and is still their major source of funding.
VAP runs three different programs, whose main goal is to teach kids about HIV/AIDS by using how popular soccer is to create a relationship with the children that they can use to educate them about difficult issues. Later in the week I met a beneficiaries of VAP who was employed, thanks to the work that VAP is doing, by another Global Giving NGO, Alive and Kicking. They’ve also added a girl’s advocacy program called RAMBO, I don’t know if that’s the correct spelling but I prefer it. RAMBO means beautiful girl, which I think is awesome! VAP’s motto is that “Even if you’re not infected, everyone is affected.”
After meeting with Nancy, one of their youth volunteers named Charles came to escort us to one of the field sites. It was my first time riding a matatu, which is kind of like a bus and kind of like a taxi, but also not anything like either. We got off at one of the smaller Nairobi slums, all I remember is trash everywhere, and open sewer drains running through the “streets.” I don’t think that Charles was prepared for the attention that we received, with every kid and some adults shouting “How are you” in English to us. That was all they knew, since any attempt to respond just got blank looks. I’m still curious why just about everyone in Kenya knew that one phrase, it’s not like they could pick it up on TV, maybe it’s said on the radio a lot, I don’t know.
I managed to pick up two followers all my own. The girl couldn’t have been more than 10 and her sister at least half that, but they decided following me was more interesting than going home, so we formed a parade through the slum. I couldn’t help myself from slowing down to make sure that the girls, especially the littlest one, could make the jumps over the open sewage, which was silly since they lived there, so of course she could. The oddest thing was the eldest’s reaction to a motorcycle that came through the slum. It was going very fast, but she was terrified, running from it in genuine fear and hiding. I don’t know if she was afraid of being run over or grabbed, but it was disturbing. When we started walking again, I felt a little hand grab mine, and we stayed that way until we came to a junction that must have led back to her home. I’m sure she had a great time telling her family and friends about the day!
Soon after we reached the school where Charles was going to teach his class on HIV/AIDs, and I sat through the 10 minute class. The class was very adult, with most of the kids parroting some things it was clear that they didn’t understand. Charles said it’s because they will take that information home to their families, as well as hopefully remember it when they are old enough to understand. The school itself was depressing, made of metal sheeting, which meant that the school itself was a kind of oven; I was certainly baking once we went inside. Two of the kids were obviously very bright, checking previous notes and taking new ones. I was sad about what their schooling prospects were, such wasted potential, but I hope that they get lucky and manage to succeed. At least the VAP program will give them a better chance at surviving. It was another exhausting day in Kenya, but well worth the visit and experience.