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.
Jun 11, 2014

Nyamuhure Becomes a Leader

Nyahumure leading a discussion in the Safe House
Nyahumure leading a discussion in the Safe House

Nyamuhure has seen much trauma in her life. She was captured by rebels in her home country, the Congo, and held captive for 12 months, during which time she became pregnant due to assault. The same rebels killed her parents and siblings when attacking her village.

 After finally fleeing to Kenya, she found a generous individual who offered her assistance and then referred her to Heshima Kenya for further care and supporrt. Nyamuhure came to the Safe House in September 2013. During her stay, she received counseling and attended life-skills sessions, which enabled her regain psychological stability and prepared her for the delivery and care of her new baby. Through courses and living in a supportive community, Nyamuhure gained confidence; initially shy and introverted, she soon began taking on leadership responsibilities within the Safe House, assiting as a resident mentor for any emerging issues with the residents. This has helped her grow her courage and self-esteem and today she reaches out to the young children who reside in the community, organizing games and events to build skills among the children.

 With financial assistance and medical support from Heshima Kenya, Nyahumure gave birth to a health baby boy, Cleva, in November 2013. Nyamuhure and Cleva exited the Safe House in May and she now lives with a guardian in the community. Nyamuhure reports that being in the Safe House nourished her confidence and prompted her to believe that her dream of becoming a confident, educated and independent young woman can actually be a reality despite her misfortunes. She hopes to become a counselor so that she can help other young women in her community. She plans to give the best care possible to her son so he grows up to become a healthy, condfident child.

 Your thoughtful support helps young women like Nyamuhure to become leaders– we thank you for investing in our young women! 

 

 

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Jun 11, 2014

Chance's Dreams

Chance at work
Chance at work

As we continue empowering young refugee girls and women through the Girls’ Empowerment Project, we would like to share with you a success story of a participant who was able to meet her goals through the programs at Heshima Kenya.

22 year-old Chance recalls growing up wanting to pursue an education in her home country, the Congo. Sadly her dreams were shattered when war broke out in her country, forcing her to flee. She arrived in Kenya in February 2010 through the Busia border and was taken to UNHCR, who recognized her unique needs as an unaccompanied female refugee and referred her to Heshima Kenya.

Chance was initially enrolled in the Girls’ Empowerment Program, she performed well and entered the tailoring program, then the Maisha Collective. She gradated from the Maisha Collective is now among the 12 participants who received grant to start their own business. Through the business grant she was able to purchase a sewing machine and fabric and formed a tailoring business with several of her peers.

She says she likes the life of being an independent woman. She says, “I know that I can become anything I want…as long as I stay focused on my goals and aspirations.” She feels that she found herself doing exactly what she planned and is following her dreams. Chance says “I knew the only way I could have done this was by becoming an educated woman. Education is one of the most powerful tools that anyone can have, and I knew that in order for me to succeed, I had to become more than just an average student.”

Chance shares with pride that running her business and earning income is a big accomplishment for her, and she feels that she and her peers are setting a precedent for the current students. Chance says that she is extremely proud to be one of the Heshima Kenya’s graduates and that she will become a great role model for the rest of the participants. Through the profit she has earned, she has extended her business by selling second hand clothes.

Your support has helped participants like Chance achieve their dreams – we thank you for believing in our young women!

Chance in a play about the importance of education
Chance in a play about the importance of education
Chance and her peers graduate
Chance and her peers graduate

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Mar 13, 2014

Knowledge is Power - Lydia's Journey

Lydia (right) at graduation.
Lydia (right) at graduation.

As we celebrated International Women’s Day March 8th, it is especially exciting to share the amazing successes of the empowered women that Heshima Kenya serves.  This month, we will share and celebrate Lydia’s incredible journey.

Lydia and her family fled from her shattered country, the DR Congo, in the midst of the civil war.  As they escaped, walking through the bushes of the Congo to circumvent the violence, Lydia was separated from her parents and her four siblings. The separation from her family left her devastated and traumatized with no hope for the future.

In July 2011, through the assistance of good Samaritans she met on the way, Lydia travelled through the Ugandan border into Nairobi, Kenya.  At the United Nations offices in Nairobi she met a woman who became her host.  In October 2011, Heshima Kenya outreach staff identified Lydia and referred her to the Safe house due to her vulnerability.  

First, Heshima Kenya focused on meeting Lydia’s most immediate needs.  After Lydia had a safe place to stay, a loving community around her, and counseling sessions to help her begin to address her traumatic experiences, she enrolled in the Girls’ Empowerment Project (GEP).  At the age of 16, she started out at the most basic education level with a sincere interest in learning and a strong commitment to her work. She showed dedication to every aspect of the GEP including her literacy classes, vocational training, and the income-generating project, the Maisha Collective. As a part of the training, Lydia learned about financial literacy, budgeting, financial planning, saving, basic principles of starting a business, and identifying safe income generating activities.  Through the GEP and her hard working ethic, Lydia gained an invaluable education preparing her for unique opportunities in the future.  

Recently, Lydia was able to open her own bank account, where she began saving her earned stipend from the Maisha Collective. She then enrolled in college where she took training courses in hospitality and gained work experience in the field; 18 months later, she graduated and was offered a job at a hotel in Nairobi. Recognizing her for all of her success in school and work, Lydia became one of the 12 promising Maisha graduates to receive a loan and livelihood assistance for 3 months from the GEP. With the loan, her own savings, and her education, Lydia established a small business selling hair products and second hand clothes.  She is currently working with two more former GEP participants to form a group to maximize their business capital and income.

Lydia, who has become a confident leader and educated businesswoman, is also one of 7 key mentors who continue to give back to the GEP by mentoring current participants.

Your support helps girls like Lydia live lives they never thought possible. Your investment is truly investment in the life of our young women and their families. We thank you very much for your thoughtful donations. 

Lydia hard at work.
Lydia hard at work.

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