Seed of hope has continued to train and equip disadvantaged girls with skills in various vocational courses, mentorship and counselling program that has transformed the lives of many young women who had lost hope in life and became vulnerable to exploitation. Each term after three months of training, mentoring and other activities, Seed of Hope centres allow their girls to take a break from learning so that they can relax and spent time with their family members. From our last update, there are many positive changes that have occurred in the lives of the girls thus when the holiday break was over, all the girls came back to continue with the learning in the second term. The girls have high expectations with regards to courses of their choice since those in second year are preparing to sit for an external grade 2 test in August while the first years are registering for their grade 3 test that they will sit in November. The external exams are set by the examination body called National Industrial Technical Authority (NITA) for vocational and technical institutions, therefore give the Seed of Hope girls a better chance to secure employment in the textile industries in Kenya as well as fashion and design companies. I had the previlege to speak to two girls who are currently in the program and also a former graduate who has come back for advance lessons in our Dhamira incubation hub and this is what they shared:
Elizabeth enrolled at Seed of Hope in January 2015. She is among the young mothers who pleaded with the management for a chance to join the institution and be trained so that she can be able to support her young family. She did not get the chance to join secondary school like her friends due to lack of fees since her mother is the sole breadwinner and depends on farming to raise the family. Elizabeth became desperate as the situation at home was difficult thus she left her rural home to find employment in the city. It is at the age of sixteen that she met a man while working in a hotel and she fell pregnant. She had no choice but get married at that tender age since she was ashamed of going back home as her family was struggling to make ends meet. She also resigned from her place of work and became a stay at home mum raising two children while depending entirely on her husband to cater for family needs. She came to learn about Seed of Hope during one of the community outreach programs conducted by Seed of Hope staff and decided to enrol for the fashion and fabric design course. There are many young mothers like Elizabeth who are facing difficult circumstances and have lost hope in life. They are living in abject poverty as they are unable to cater for their basic needs due to lack of skills that would enable them to secure employment. Elizabeth is grateful for the opportunity she got from Seed of Hope and this is what she had to say “ I joined Seed of Hope because I have been idle for a long time and I wanted to change my life and become self- independent. I believe that through the skills in the course am taking, I will be able to start my own business, move in to a better home, give my children a good life and go back to school to further my education. I have regained my self-esteem, confidence and hope for a brighter future “ Elizabeth is not alone in this journey to a brighter future. Meet Lilian a second year student at Seed of Hope also training in fashion and fabric design. She was raised by her grandparents in the rural area after her mother remarried. She was able to go to high school but dropped out due to lack of fees. She thought her life had come to an end since in her village most of her agemates who had dropped out of school were married with kids and she was afraid that she will follow the same path. Her breakthrough came when one of her aunties paid them a visit and she brought her in Nairobi with a promise to find a casual employment for her. It is at this period that her auntie heard about Seed of Hope and she got an opportunity to enrol. Lilian is now preparing to sit for her grade 2 test before completing her two years of training at Seed of Hope. She says that since she joined Seed of Hope, she has gained knowledge and skills in her course of study as well as other skills, like business development, life skills, and craft work. When asked about her future plans she says that she is looking forward to graduate then advance her fashion and fabric design course so that she can be a tutor. She also have plans to start her own business so that she can support her grandparents and younger siblings.
Grace is a former student of Seed of Hope. She graduated in 2014 after completing her training in dressmaking, fashion and fabric designs. In the two years she was at Seed of Hope, Grace says that she has gained the knowledge and skill in her course of study, she is more confident, social and courageous to face any challenge that comes her way. After graduation, she went for a three month attachment to get first-hand experience in a well-established business. She was very lucky to get the attachment placement working under the supervision of one of the Seed of Hope pioneers in her dressmaking business. It is encouraging to note that most of the girls who went through Seed of Hope program are now taking in the girls who recently graduate for attachment since they have establish their business and are earning good income through the training they got from Seed of Hope. Grace completed her attachment and she was selected among other girls to join the Seed of Hope Dhamira hub as a resident whereby she continues to learn new and complex designs, being creative while making different items using fabrics and also how to operate an industrial machines. Grace and other girls in the hub are also mentored to be confident, ambitious and patient as they prepare to go out and start their business. She is confident that once she get the support from Seed of Hope to establish her business, she will ensure that her business prospers so that she can be independent, support her family, go back to school so that she can advance her career and mentor other girls who had lost hope in life. As we wind up this is what she had to say, “Seed of Hope has given me a reason to live for a future I had no idea it existed. I had lost hope in life since there was nobody who could understand the challenges I was facing. Thanks to Seed of Hope for this golden opportunity as now I can stand tall because I have hope and a bright future ahead”
The girls are confident on their journey towards success and we recognize that all this would not have happened if it was not for the support you have given us to make their dreams come to reality. Thank you for your ongoing support towards our work!
Each new year at Seed of Hope begins with a flurry of activity as our teaching team work hard to enrol new students. Since January we have enrolled 191 girls who have joined our vocational training to acquire knowledge and skills in different courses of their choice. There are several new courses that were introduced so that we could attract many young girls to join Seed of Hope – such as Business Administration, Basic Computing, Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy, Agribusiness and metal work.
The enrolment process is facilitated by our work in the community through our outreach ‘Empowerment Clubs’. These clubs are run by Seed of Hope staff in the communities surrounding our centres. They help us to identify and build relationships with disadvantaged girls in the community in order to prepare them for enrolment at Seed of Hope.
Some of these Empowerment Clubs target young mothers who have been forced to drop out of education because of their pregnancies. These young mothers have pleaded with the management of Seed of Hope that they might be given a chance to make something out of their difficult situation. Many of the young mothers are forced into early marriages according to traditional beliefs while others were rejected and sent away by their families.
In addition to new courses at Seed of Hope Centres, a pilot program that goes by the name Amuka was introduced at our Nairobi centre. Amuka means ‘Wake Up’ or ‘Rise Up’ in Swahili. This is a two week program designed to help the students develop self-awareness, build their self-confidence and helps them to explore their purpose whilst developing core values. This was extremely successful and, as a result, will be rolled out to all the centres in the coming year.
The students have already taken on leadership roles within Seed of Hope as a result. Hearing from previous graduates had a significant impact as it has helped them to see the possibilities and increased their confidence in themselves and the opportunities ahead of them.
There’s so much happening at Seed of Hope! It’s an exciting place to be! There’s not much space to mention them here but a couple of other highlights have been:
The work of Seed of Hope exists because We Believe in Girls! We believe in their potential to change the world, their potential to shape brighter futures for themselves and their potential to create positive impact wherever they go! If you believe in these young girls, we’d love for you to get involved in the work of Seed of Hope! Global Giving have two special bonus days coming up. The first is for our friends and partners in the UK – it launches on Monday 2nd March at 2pm GMT and you have the chance to have your donations matched with an extra 50%. Global Giving will add 50% to all donations up to £500! This campaign will run for one week but get in early before matching funds run out. Donations must be made through Global Giving UK, not the US site!
But don’t worry – if you’re in the US, you’ll have your chance! The bonus day for our friends and partners in the US is March 18th! We’ll send you more details nearer the time.
Please consider making a donation as part of these bonus days! Your giving really does go a long way. Every little helps!
Thank you all for your ongoing support of our work!
It’s the end of another great year at Seed of Hope.
Over the last few weeks we have seen students graduate from the four Seed of Hope centres. As always, these have been colourful events with Fashion Design students showing off their final project work by wearing an outfit they designed and made for themselves. There were also great performances of songs, poems and dramas by both the first and second year students.
At each ceremony, one of the graduating students spoke about how their life was transformed by Seed of Hope. The Nairobi centre was celebrating its 11th graduation ceremony and Sarah told the guests:
"Before I joined Seed of Hope I didn’t know my life had a meaning because after I had finished my primary school exams I couldn’t go to high school because of lack of school fees. I was forced to stay at home to help my parents with house chores.
Through studying at Seed of Hope I have become a better person because I have learnt so many things that I couldn’t even believe I could. I have gained knowledge and skills that have made me who I am. I have learnt business skills, life skills and vocational skills. These subjects made me improve everything like self-esteem and self-confidence…
After graduating from Seed of Hope I will go for my attachment and after that I am hoping to start my own business and to further my studies.”
Former students from the Seed of Hope programme also attended the graduation ceremonies and had words of encouragement for the graduating students. At the Nairobi centre Rosebella, one of the first ever Seed of Hope graduates, also had advice to share with the parents and guardians of graduating students. She encouraged them to support their children and work with them rather than just sit back and place too much expectation on them to provide for the family. From the success stories we have heard over the last few years we know that Seed of Hope graduates have the potential to make a real difference in the lives of their families if they are given the support they require in the early days.
Our thanks go to everyone who has supported Seed of Hope through GlobalGiving. The funds we receive from this platform ensure that Seed of Hope can continue to offer training opportunities to girls who have nowhere else to turn.
With your support, we look forward to making 2015 another successful year!
In the meantime, on behalf of the staff, students and graduates of Seed of Hope we wish you all the very best this Festive Season.
The final term is underway for Seed of Hope students. For those in their second year graduation season is fast approaching. A total of 111 girls will be graduating this year across the four Seed of Hope centres.
Kitui Seed of Hope will be the first centre to hold a graduation ceremony this year. The students are busy preparing for the event and have been working on their oufits. Teacher Emmanuel proudly posted a picture on Facebook to give us a sneak preview of some of the dresses that have been made. The centre in Nairobi will host the final graduation of the year at the beginning of December. The girls haven't started their final projects yet but are busy fine tuning their skills in preparation. I commented to the Head Teacher, Florence, that I've never seen the machine room filled with so many outfits before final projects get underway. She explained that this has been one of her most committed groups and they have been keen to practise as much as possible.
This came across over the August holidays when many of the second year students chose to come in to school and practise their stitching. What also came across was the confidence they have gained in their time at Seed of Hope. Sitting in the office one day I could hear chatter and laughter coming from the machine room. I went to see if I could take one photograph of the students who had sacrificed their holiday to come to school...I wasn't prepared for the fashion show that followed! The girls each tried on outfits they had made and asked me to take their photographs. I was amazed at their confidence because when they enrolled early last year they were a very quiet group and it was hard to get them to talk to us. Building up their self-esteem and confidence is part of Seed of Hope's work to empower these girls so they can deal with the many challenges that life throws at them.
Seed of Hope presents graduates with certificates for the various subjects they study including vocational skills, enterprise skills and life skills. For those whose families can find the funds, there is the option to sit national accredited exams which can improve employment prospects. Seventy first year students are currently preparing to sit these exams which will take place in December and thirty of the second years were able to sit the second level in August.
Our thanks to everyone who has supported Seed of Hope by donating through GlobalGiving. Your support is helping Florence, Emmanuel and all the other staff at Seed of Hope equip young girls with Dignity, Opportunity and Hope.
Did you know that GlobalGiving has a Bonus Day on 15th October? All donations up to $1,000 will be matched with 30% until the matching fund runs out. Why not ask your friends to make a big difference by donating that day? Matching begins at 9am EDT and as funds usually run out very quickly we'd recommend making a donation as soon as possible after that.
I recently had the absolute pleasure of catching up with a graduate of Seed of Hope. Alice completed her two year course in 2012 and was always quite a quiet girl.
During her time at Seed of Hope she met an American intern, Allison, who paid a return visit to Kenya in June. Allison had asked to follow up on some of the students that she met so we headed out with Gitau, the Nairobi centre's Business and Enterprise teacher.
We discovered that Alice lived quite a distance from the centre where she trained and Gitau explained that her uncle had worked hard to ensure that she could afford the fares for transport while she was a student. When we reached Alice's shop she was busy working hard and had a few customer orders waiting to be worked on. Some were small repairs and others were new clothes to be made. In the thirty minutes that we were there two or three customers passed by the shop either checking up on work or dropping off something to be done.
Alice shared with confidence how she had built up her business and is now proud to say that she can provide for herself and not have to rely on other people.
Allison and her sister were impressed with the range of fabrics on display and even placed orders of their own while Gitau asked to look over Alice's business records to see if she was putting in to practice what he had taught her.
We all left Alice's shop feeling inspired at how her two years at Seed of Hope have changed her life and given her independence.
Thank you to each and every one of you who has supported Seed of Hope through Global Giving and changed not only Alice's life but the lives of many girls who now have a brighter future.
July 16th is the next GlobalGiving Bonus Day when your donations can be matched with up to 50%.
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