Dear Supporter -
2013 was such a wonderful year for us at Heshima Kenya. Because of your support, we were able to safeguard the human rights of girls and young women who have experienced, and are at continued risk of homelessness, gender-based violence, and other protection issues. Nearly 100 girls, young women and their children, were provided with safe shelter in a unique environment where they began to regain their physical and mental health, built important life values, created a network of peer support, and built self -sustaining skills through life-skills training and support through Heshima Kenya’s other programs. Please follow the link to let our girls thank you themselves!
We have exciting news - this Tuesday, October 8th, starting at 11pm CST throughout October 9th, GlobalGiving will match each donation made to Heshima Kenya!
Your support has already helped so many of our women and girls in Nairobi. Girls like Angie.
Angie’s story began in DR Congo where her grandmother raised her after her parents and brothers were killed when she was just 2 years old. In 2010, rebels raided her village again; they killed her grandmother and held Angie captive for two harrowing years. During this time, Angie became pregnant from assault and gave birth to her daughter, Faith.
One early morning in 2012, Angie managed to escape to Nairobi where she finally found Heshima Kenya. Angie lived in the Safe House for a year before she exited to live with other girls in the Girls’ Empowerment Program. She recently graduated her tailoring course and will be joining the Maisha Collective this fall.
Angie is becoming more and more confident each day as she achieves new milestones. With your support, more young mothers like Angie are able to reach financial independence for themselves and their families.
Will you consider a donation this matching day to help our girls achieve their goals? There is a limited amount of matching funds available so please donate early to ensure Heshima Kenya benefits from this opportunity!
We are so grateful for your generous contributions to help us engage, support, and encourage Angie, Faith, and so many more. Thank you for your support and commitment to empowering the young women and girls of Heshima Kenya, we couldn’t do it without you.
This summer, our Safe House residents had the opporuntity to participate in several programs to aid their healing and help them succeed in life:
1.) Jounrnaling at the Safe House
Our Safe house residents have been working diligently on their writing skills as a method to assist with the healing process after experiencing trauma. They have become accustomed to writing personal stories in their journal each evening. After working hard, the majority of the girls report they are able to reflect and write out what is going on in their minds, and express their hopes and future desires. The girls were excited to discuss their thoughts, plans, challenges, successes and goals in life. Jennifer, 16 years old from the Congo, shared that she loves going to school. She wrote that she works hard in school so that she could attain the highest grade to be admitted into a University. Jennifer plans to become a pilot; she dreams of flying airplanes all over the world. Writing has served as a great motivator to help girls look forward to brighter futures; helping the girls believe in their capabilities and set goals for their lives. Alsongside of the journal writing, Heshima Kenya staff provided a number of counseling sessions to uncover the tramas faced and ulimately work to improve their emotional well-being. The individual counsleing plans, coupled with the journal writing, has helped the residents reduce their levels of anxiety and fear. The girls very much enjoy the writing exercises and appreciated thinking through and sharing their future goals.
2.) Life skills Courses
Parenting can be very challenging for teenage mothers, especially for teenage mothers missing their own families who have undergone significant trauma, such as our girls at Heshima Kenya. Simply understanding on how to take good care of a baby is an incredible task for all mothers. This past month, 10 life skills sessions were held to equip the young mothers with baby-care skills. At the course’s completion, 95% of the residents demonstrated improvement in taking care of their babies. The Life Skills program has recorded less medical referrals this month and shown that residents have gained healthy eating habits. The residents were also taken through transformational breathing techniques facilitated by “TIBA Africa” as a method of stress and tension relief . They were encouraged to continue with the breathing exercises at home and after the course’s completion to remain mentally healthy and strong. Adele, who is a survivor of sexual gender based violence (SGBV) also gave a session on “getting through trauma”. Five years ago, Adele was gang raped on her way home from the market; her perpretrators are unkown. She received counselling and proper care that to help her heal and work past the assualt the best she could. She shared her personal experience with residents and encouraged them to seek help and support to aid their healing. Currently, Adele works as a radio presenter at a popular radio station in Nairobi.; she is also the founder of an organization called NO Means NO which advocates for the rights of children and women. Adele serves as a strong, brave role model for our women and girls.
Your support makes it possible for our Safe House residents to receive such specialized care, including the counseling and courses they need. Thank you again for your generosity.
Our girls and young women at the Safe House, and their children, have been through so much. They work so hard every single day to overcome the trauma they have seen - working with our counselors and case management team to heal; attending classes at the Girls' Empowerment Project to obtain an education; learning about life skills and human rights; and looking forward to achieving their goals of independence and empowerment. We are so happy that we can provide our girls with the opportunity to have fun and feel safe as well! Just like all girls and boys - our girls in Nairobi deserve the right to grow and thrive in a safe, happy, and warm environment.
Just last week we were thrilled to take our girls and their children on a special field trip to the Nairobi National Park. Many have lived in Kenya as refugees without ever seeing animals or the beauty of the country. The girls were elated to look at the wild animals, including lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalos and they very much enjoyed completing the 2.5km safari walk with the game park guide. Everyone loved spending the day outdoors with their Heshima Family, walking around the game park very freely with their children and friends. A group favorite was feeding the monkeys yellow bananas inside their cages, as they laughed and played in the park. All of the Heshima girls appreciated the nature and wish to visit the game park again. Yvonne, 15 years old said "I always wanted to see animals. In Congo, I hardly saw animals. I am glad I have been able to visit the game park. I enjoyed it and I will never forget this day in my life." It was a special day filled with joy and free of stress! Another trip has been scheduled for later this summer.
One of the best things about the Safe House is that it not only provides protection, but it also offers various opprtunites for residents to grow and heal through a sense of community. We often offer classes, events, and other opportunities allowing residents to experience new things and help them discover their passions and interests. Here we will highlight our recent pen pal program and Zumba classes connecting residents to new interests and friends in different parts of the world.
In December, the Safe house residents received penpal letters from children in Russia through our partners at Bright Future International (BFI). The Safe House residents enjoyed receiving mail, and reading and replying to the children in Russia. The Heshima girls were warmed by their pen pals’ holiday cards wishing them a Happy Christmas and a healthy life. The Safe House girls responded, thanking them for the letters and cards, and wishing them a good year. This activity lightened up the residents’ mood, helping them feel hopeful and appreciated.
Annette stated “Having friends from the other side of the world is really good. I am glad to find a new friend in Russia. I love writing letters to my friend”
In early March, the residents had the opprtunity to learn Zumba. Zumba includes a variety of dances to music from all over the world, which is a fun, upbeat exercise for participants. The girls were thrilled to learn these new dances and sway their hips to varity of Zumba music; they loved the ability to connect each move to song and dance. A number of the girls reported that they would love to continue attending dancing and music classes.
Nadia says “I have always wanted to be a professional dancer. Now I have gotten a chance to train and exercise my body so that I become a good dancer. I am so happy. I want to start dancing classes as soon as possible.”
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