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.
Feb 7, 2011

Transitions

With your investment in our Safe House program, Heshima Kenya was able to provide safe shelter and protection to 70 young women, girls, and their children throughout 2010.  Rather than remaining homeless or living in abusive situations where they are isolated from support, our Safe House is helping to meet their incredible emotional and protection needs and linking them to educational and income-generation opportunities through our other programs.  We are very excited to report that in December we also moved our Safe House to a larger space where we now have the capacity to shelter more girls and young women.  The new site allows space for studying, gardening, and engaging in recreational activities.

Our most recent arrival is Sara, a 14-year-old Congolese girl who is 7 months pregnant.  Sara and her 11 year old brother managed to flee Congo after her parents and sister were killed. On the way, Sara was raped.  A business women from Kenya provided shelter once they reached Nairobi, but after finding out Sara was pregnant, the woman kicked her out of her home.  In the process of reaching out to other people for help, Sara lost her brother.  An organization referred Sara to Heshima Kenya’s Safe House where she is now regaining her health and preparing for the arrival of her baby.  The other girls, especially those with babies of their own, are helping Sara feel comfortable and safe.  Most importantly, they reassuring her that everything is going to be okay.

Every day, we meet girls and young women who share stories similar to Saras. In December 2010 alone, 8,000 Somali refugees fled to Kenya, and even more are being displaced to Nairobi from Congo.  Rather than having these girls and women remain invisible, your life-saving support is helping them receive the protection and tools to rebuild their lives.   

Thank you so much for your incredible support and investing in such a critical program!

Links:

Nov 24, 2010

A Girl's Space for Change

Girls dancing for Cultural Day!
Girls dancing for Cultural Day!

 

Dear Supporters,

It's been an exciting couple months and we are happy to share our progress with you!

With staff and volunteer support, participants of the Girl's Empowerment Project formed a drama group to write and perform dramas addressing issues of leadership and the importance of education.  We also developed a cultural show with the aim of the students sharing and understanding their different cultures.  The idea of cultural show was sparked by a participant because she experienced other students asking one another about their countries, clothing, food, dances, and traditions.  The cultural show helped students recognize, showcase, and appreciate their diverse backgrounds from Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan!

The Girl's Empowerment Projects participants have also been supporting their peers on decision-making.   For example, whereas previously the participants would divide themselves into informal groups and engage in conflict with one another relying on the Youth Coordinator and Mental Health Counselor to resolve their issues, the participants are now more patient with one another and work together toward conflict resolution. 
 
Team competitions have given the girls opportunities to engage in a variety of different games and sports and further facilitated interaction between students and other schools.  The GEP participants continue to engage with State House Girls Secondary School!  The inter school sports activities has also served in increased socialization and friendly relationships.
 
The Maisha Collective, Heshima Kenya’s income generating project, continues to be extremely successful!  We continue to experience an influx in orders, which keeps the girls busy!  Their standards of professionalism and excitement regarding their participation in the Maisha Collective is remarkable, and remains a source of inspiration for incoming girls!  Please visit the Heshima Kenya website in the coming weeks to learn how you can purchase a scarf!

Thank you so much for your support!

Oct 7, 2010

Hellos and Goodbyes

Residents in the Safe House backyard
Residents in the Safe House backyard

We are excited to report that since August, four young women have successfully transitioned out of our Safe House Program into independent living situations.  These young mothers, who are members of the Maisha Collective and do not face personal and targeted issues of insecurity, started earning a salary and wanted to try to live independently in community. Their successful relocation has encouraged other residents to start thinking of our Safe House Program as a more temporary situation in their journeys.  

Many of the girls have suffered trauma, arrive with newborns, and are continuously adjusting to their new situations. Heshima Kenya staff continue to monitor and evaluate our programs to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for all Safe House residents. Some new arrivals include 13-year-old Amina from Somalia, and 17-year-old Hope from Sudan. Amina is a new mother who was attacked when she fled Somalia to Kenya.  Hope was kidnapped in Sudan and escaped the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda to Kakuma Camp. She fled to Nairobi to escape a forced marriage and is now living in our Safe House Program.

We would like to say that these situations are unusual, but we all know they are not. Heshima Kenya’s Safe House is recognized as the safest shelter in Nairobi for refugee girls. There is a waiting list for entry and these urgent referrals come often. Our success, though welcome, has strained our resources and limited the number of girls and young women we can serve. 

That is why we need your help. It costs $500 a month and $16 a day to keep a girl in our Safe House, which includes 24-hour counselors, social workers, therapists, security guards, and medical care. All of the young women in our program have displayed progress, courage and strength in the last few months, thanks to your continued support.

Help us make more girls safe. Please make a gift today!

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