Heshima Kenya

Heshima Kenya is a 501(c)(3) US nonprofit and registered Kenyan charity based in Nairobi, Kenya. Heshima is the Swahili word for "respect" and we specialize in identifying and protecting separated and orphaned refugee children and youth living in Nairobi. Our innovative shelter, education and community outreach services enable and empower unaccompanied refugee children, especially adolescent girls, to live healthy lives.
Oct 14, 2014

Re-writing the Future

Chantal and James
Chantal and James

Chantal, 17-years-old, is a student at Heshima Kenya’s Girls’ Empowerment Project. Looking at her confident and determined smile, one would never guess the hardships she experienced as a young girl fleeing from the war torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Chantal was referred to Heshima Kenya by our partner agency, HIAS Kenya, in 2012. After fleeing from violence in her home country in 2010, she was captured by rebels and held in a forest; she became pregnant as a result of abuse she suffered there. After escaping and being referred to Heshima Kenya, she was placed in the Safe House where she received psychosocial support and was also enrolled into the GEP program. Heshima Kenya covered her maternity and delivery expenses, ensuring Chantal delivered a healthy bouncing baby boy she named James.

Upon enrollment into the Girls’ Empowerment Project, Chantal was assessed and placed in Level 1 of the program. At the time Chantal could not communicate in either English or Kiswahili. She attended classes to improve her language skills and six months later she emerged as one of the top performers in the adult education proficiency test administered by the Government of Kenya. In Level 2, Chantal was a top student and took on a leadership role in her class; she also enrolled in the vocational training where she received tailoring skills. At the completion of the second level, Chantal entered Level 3 and was registered for the national Kenya Certificate of Primary Education Exams, which she will take this November. Passing the exams is necessary for admittance to secondary school. In addition to completing her classes, Chantal received a certification as a skilled tailor. She is now a member of the Maisha Collective (our income generating project), the final component of the Girls’ Empowerment Project. In the Maisha Collective, she earns a stipend that helps pay rent and allows Chantal to live independently with her son.

Chantal’s son also receives support from Heshima Kenya. He is enrolled in the Heshima Kenya’s Early Childhood Development Program, which provides daycare and parenting classes. This allows Chantal the ability to focus on her education and involvement in the Maisha Collective. James learns numbers and shapes in the program, and his social interaction and ability to communicate with his peers, teachers and other adults are constantly improving.

Chantal plans to continue with her education through college, and plans to educate her child. She is extremely thankful for her education and for the counseling she has received that has helped her deal with her traumatic past and has allowed her to focus on her future. Chantal has big dreams for herself and her child for the future, she states “I would like to rewrite my life and the future.”

Thanks to supporters like you, Chantal is able to receive the support and education she deserves, investing in herself and in the future of her family. We thank you!

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Sep 9, 2014

Recreational Time at the Safe House

Marie loves the hula hoop!
Marie loves the hula hoop!

Marie is a 16-year-old girl who fled the Congo during conflicts in her village. Early in 2013, rebels attacked the village and took away her parents, leaving Marie alone in the house. She was terrified, but she managed to hide from the rebels by sliding under the bed. After she deemed it safe to come out, she met some women who were also seeking safety, and they found a truck carrying people from the village. With no other options, Marie joined the women and children in the truck. She immediately fell asleep from exhaustion and shock. When a man’s shouting awoke her abruptly, she found herself in a different country, forced out of the truck and completely on her own. After struggling to survive by herself in Kenya, she was rescued and taken in by a host family. From there, she was ultimately identified and assisted by UNHCR. As she was unable to continue staying with the family, she was referred to Heshima Kenya for shelter.

Marie is currently enjoying her stay at the Heshima Kenya Safe House, where she has built friendships with other residents and is obtaining basic education and counseling. Aside from providing a secure, warm environment for our girls to heal, our Safe House also recognizes the importance that games and recreational activities play. The Safe House residents spend time playing games every evening, including board games, puzzles, tower building games, ball games and activities like “Zumba dance.” This helps the children to identify new skills, learn how to solve problems, improve their attitude toward their peers, develop motivation for life tasks such as learning, exercise creativity, express feelings and needs, and formulate their daily requests and demands. It is observed that the residents who participate in games build their self-esteem easily, develop self-confidence, and gain a sense of self-identity and conflict resolution skills.

Marie loves playing games at the Safe House; it helps her relax with her peers and enjoy her life. She has learned to interact and build meaningful relationships with fellow residents and community members. Ultimately, Marie feels that she has found another family in Heshima Kenya. These activities and games have allowed her to be a child again, enjoy her free time and maintain a positive outlook. Her goal is to continue her education and find a job as a youth counselor, so she can help other young women like her.

“Throughout my life I never owned any toys to play with. My parents could not afford to buy games. I had problems with learning new things especially games because I did not have access to them. When I came to the Safe House, I was surprised to see all the toys and games that I yearned to have when I was growing up. You can have whatever game you want and most of the times we use them as we conduct group discussions to break the ice. I love doing the hula hoop because I exercise my body, I laugh a lot and we share life experiences with my friends a lot too. I love to play and learn different games a lot,” says Marie.

 

Support from you helps our girls, like Marie, to experience safety, security and to play and make friends like all children should. We thank you for your support!

Even the Safe House babies love to dance
Even the Safe House babies love to dance

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Jul 16, 2014

Bonus Day is here!

Heshima children sing a song together
Heshima children sing a song together

Bonus Day is here! Today, July 16, Global Giving will match every donation made to Heshima Kenya! When you donate today between 9 am-11:59 pm EDT, every dollar’s impact will be multiplied.

Thanks to your support, Heshima Kenya has already been able to provide protection, education, and opportunity to nearly 500 refugee women and their children. After fleeing war-torn countries, these families have found safety and hope through Heshima Kenya. With your help, we can reach even more. 

Your support has helped young women like Fatuma. Fatuma fled from Somalia in 2009 when a grenade attack killed her parents and brother. After reaching Nairobi, Fatuma enrolled in the Girls’ Empowerment Project at Heshima Kenya, where she learned to read and write. Today she is thriving as a worker in the Maisha Collective and a member of the Heshima Kenya community. Fatuma says, “Before my education at Heshima Kenya, my world was limited. I am ten times happier today than I was yesterday. My family would be very proud of me.” 

Please consider donating to Heshima Kenya today to multiply your impact, improving the lives of vulnerable young girls and women like Fatuma. From the girls and women of Heshima Kenya, thank you for your support!

Fatuma
Fatuma
Proud graduates of the Girls
Proud graduates of the Girls' Empowerment Program
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