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.
Mar 11, 2013

Elizabeth's story of Courage and Strength

Elizabeth smiling and sewing
Elizabeth smiling and sewing

 

Elizabeth is 19 years old and from the Congo, she joined Heshima Kenya in 2012 after experiencing a life of challenges and hardship. Despite this, one of Elizabeth’s main goals is education, a goal she has continued to pursue throughout her life throughout the challenges she has faced.

When Elizabeth was just five years old, violence erupted in her village and her entire family was forced to flee. During the chaos,  she was separated from her parents and her siblings; she believes her parents were killed during this time and has no knowledge of where her siblings are now. Elizabeth was captured by the militia and held in a home with other children, where the unknown militia amputated two of her fingers. When Elizabeth finally managed to escape she was able to locate her cousin, and they both fled to Rwanda. Here Elizabeth was able to enroll in school and live with the pastor of her church, she also received physical therapy for her injuries. She attended school through level 5, when she moved to Kenya with the hopes of finding additional relatives; she arrived in Nairobi in 2011, living in multiple unstable locations.  Elizabeth suffered additional incidents of Sexual Gender Based Violence after arriving in Nairobi at the hands of acquaintances of her host family. She finally managed to escape and was referred to Heshima Kenya in 2012 by Doctors Without Borders.

When Elizabeth joined Heshima Kenya, she complained of persistent pain, which was found to be psychological caused by the extreme trauma that she faced. After 2 months of counseling, she finally felt strong enough to approach the Youth Coordinator and request to be enrolled in the Girl’s Empowerment Project. Elizabeth was determined to continue her education.  Though still struggling with her trauma, she would always come to class and do her best to concentrate. She is now among the best participant in class and was enrolled in the tailoring. Elizabeth was initially very insecure about her disability and felt this may keep her from learning how to tailor, however with her hard work and determination, and encouragement from the Heshima staff, she is now thriving. Her tailoring instructor describes her performance as “superb”.  Elizabeth still has many challenges to overcome, but with her ability to focus and her impressive self-awareness, we are convinced Elizabeth will continue to make amazing strides.

Thank you again for your support and commitment to Heshima Kenya. Your generous donations make if possible for young women like Elizabeth to work persistently to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges to thrive. Please consider a donation today to ensure our young women can continue to meet their goals. 

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:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $25
  • $75
  • $300
  • $500
  • $25
    each month
  • $75
    each month
  • $300
    each month
  • $500
    each month
  • $
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of Heshima Kenya

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about Heshima Kenya on GreatNonProfits.org.