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.
Dec 11, 2012

Talent Night: Boosting Confidence & Having Fun

Dance performance at the Safe House
Dance performance at the Safe House

Last month the Safe House Program held a Talent Night!

The girls regularly take part in drama and role playing activities so it was a natural idea that came to them to develop a Talent Night to showcase their talents. 

The girls, with support from the Safe House staff, spent a week preparing and practicing for the big event. They were broken up into five different teams to practice their routines.

On the big night, staff and friends gathered to watch the show, which included performing skits, reciting poems, and choreographed dances. All teams were given small token gifts for their efforts.

“We had so much fun that day,” said one participant. 

“It was nice to dance and show the girls what I learned,” said another. 

“It is a good day to come together and do what I like best: singing,” said yet another girl.

They also held a group birthday party, which are held quarterly to celebrate all the girls and their children who had birthdays in the last several months.

In addition to events like the talent show and birthday celebrations, the girls keep busy with a variety of regular activities.

One of the Safe House program's main goals is to promote psychosocial healing and a sense of community by structuring a daily routine.

For example, the girls have daily reading assignments as well as time and guidance to complete their school assignments. Reading is a big deal at the Safe House- the goal being to develop a reading culture where reading is encouraged and exciting for the girls. Thanks to supporters like you, the Safe House now has a small library of books for girls at different reading levels.  

Other activities include playing sports and spending time on communal household chores like cooking, tidying, and gardening - and for those that have babies and small children, childcare.

On the weekend, time is devoted to rest and relaxation as well as life-skills sessions on relevant topics such as reproductive health and self-esteem. Life at the Safe House continues to be busy and productive!

Thank you for your support of this project. The girls are thriving in this safe, caring environment thanks to your generosity!

Birthday party - blowing out candles
Birthday party - blowing out candles
Dec 11, 2012

Journalism Club: Girls Learn Writing & Reporting

The Latest Newsletter from the Journalism Class
The Latest Newsletter from the Journalism Class

Newsletter Published

This week, the eight intrepid reporters who make up Heshima Kenya's afterschool journalism club produced a brand-new edition of Midnimo, the Heshima Kenya program newsletter, all about human rights. You can flip through and read the articles here.

“Sometimes the girls say that they cannot be journalists because they are refugees,” says Imgard, the wonderful volunteer who has headed up the class for the last three months. “And I simply tell them that they have gone through great adversities to be where they are, and nothing can bar them from achieving their dreams."

Journalism Augments Traditional Curriculum

“I don’t see the class as only about journalism," she adds. "It’s also about building self-confidence and learning to understand the world around them.”

The class is held after the regular Girls' Empowerment Program schooling and is optional for the girls to take part in- but the interest so far has been great and the students who signed up for it rarely miss a class.

The class was started to augment what the girls learn in their regular curriculum including reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills.

The girls are also learning about human rights issues that affect them and about current affairs. For example, Imgard says that from day one the students were yearning for information on their home countries like DRC and Somalia, and that reading and discussing the newspaper together was not only good for reading comprehension skills but provided lessons in geography, history, and politics.

Learning Photography

The girls have also been learning to use cameras and the art of photography. For most, this is their first exposure to even holding a camera - and they are very excited to learn more skills.

Just the other week they had their first photo "exhibition" at the offices where a few of each of their photos were printed and hung on the wall. The other students from Heshima Kenya gathered to view their photographs on display and it was a proud moment for both the photographers and everyone in attendance.

Saying Goodbye and Giving Our Thanks

And sadly, this week marks Imgard's last week of volunteering. Thankfully, we have two new volunteers - a photojournalist from Canada and a communications volunteer from the US- here in Nairobi who have offered their time and expertise to take over the class.

On Imgard's last day, each girl read aloud a letter of thanks for her instructive lessons and kind mentorship. It was very heart-warming to hear as many girls in the class had not been able to even write their names before joining Heshima Kenya.

"You'll never be far from my mind, and you'll always be a part of my family," said Imgard.

By leveraging the pro-bono support of volunteers- and your generous donations - a huge difference is being made in the lives of girls who would otherwise not have the opportunity for an education. Thank you!

Learning about photography
Learning about photography
Saying goodbye to the jouranlism teacher
Saying goodbye to the jouranlism teacher

Links:

Sep 11, 2012

The Benefits of Childcare at the GEP

Safe and happy at our nursery
Safe and happy at our nursery

This summer, Heshima Kenya was honored to receive a grant from our long-time supporter, the Manaaki Foundation, to support our nursery, an initiative of our Girls’ Empowerment Project.  

As conflicts continue to intensify throughout the region, Heshima Kenya has received an increased number of cases involving girls and young women who have experienced sexual assault and as a result have become pregnant. Other girls arrive with infants and toddlers who are frequently malnourished or suffer from other illnesses or afflictions. In response to this growing need of mothers and their children entering our programs, Heshima Kenya has developed an on-site childcare program at our education site, in addition to a parenting curriculum that teaches new and expectant mothers about topics such as child nutrition and development, post-partum depression and emotional wellness, breastfeeding, and hygiene. The presence of this childcare program enables mothers to attend their education courses on site while also attending to their children throughout the day.

17-year-old Cledestine joined Heshima Kenya in January after fleeing Congo.  After making the courageous journey to Nairobi, she was assaulted after finding shelter at a local church. Pregnant and alone, Cledestine was referred to Heshima Kenya and gave birth to Patrick, a healthy baby boy one month after arriving.  She joined our Girls’ Empowerment Project where she is learning to read and write. Patrick is able to stay in our nursery while Cledestine is attending class. This allows her to focus on her learning, while being only steps away when she is needed for feeding, changing, or playing with Patrick.   

A strong foundation has been built for our childcare program, however, additional resources are required to accommodate the increased number of infants and toddlers and their development needs as they grow. Currently, Heshima Kenya is supporting 25 infants and toddlers of young mothers in our programs, two children whom have serious physical and mental disabilities, including cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis. Your generous support helps to provide for competing needs including, including food, supplies, and additional resources for young children supported through our Girls' Empowerment Project.

Thank you again for your support and commitment to Heshima Kenya, which makes it possible for young families, like Clendestine and Patrick to begin to lead enjoyable lives. 

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