Our students have just returned from their August vacation and are happy to be back in school and working hard. In fact, some students in Nairobi were even in school during the holidays to continue learning how to use computers and to make overalls for Seed of Hope’s mechanics students.
Seed of Hope is now its final term of 2012 and preparations are being made for this year’s graduation ceremonies. Almost one hundred students will graduate this year, including some fee-paying students whose fees help sustain our training programmes for disadvantaged youths.
Over thirty of the students who are graduating have been able to sit their Grade 2 exams set by the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), Kenya’s most recognised examination board for dressmaking. Students who pass this exam have a higher chance of gaining paid employment. For those who are unable to sit the exams or who prefer self-employment, our Roots programme is designed to help them set up their own small businesses.
Since our last report, we have had word that two of our Seed of Hope Centres (Kisii and Kitui) have been certified by the government as recognised examination centres. This will reduce the costs involved in sitting exams for their own students and allow them to earn income by charging external students to sit their DIT exams on their premises. This will help with the sustainability of the centres.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Seed of Hope through Global Giving. Your contributions ensure that we can continue to train disadvantaged girls and give them brighter futures.
As with all Vision Africa partner projects, Seed of Hope has been set a challenge as we celebrate our tenth anniversary. By December 2013 they should be earning 30% of their budget through income generating activities (IGAs) with a view to this number increasing to 50% by 2015. This is the first step towards a sustainable future for projects which are making a difference to the lives of disadvantaged children and youths in Kenya.
In recent months, the headteachers of our four Seed of Hope centres have been working with our new team member, Ruth, to plan how they can develop existing income generating activities and initiate new ones which will help provide funds for the running costs of their centre. Staff who work at each of the projects were invited to attend a workshop which offered training on marketing, record keeping and business development. The idea behind this was to build their capacity and give them the knowledge and skills they need to run a successful business.
It is anticipated that development of the IGAs will lead to increased participation of the communities in which Seed of Hope operates. Members of the local community will be customers for produce that is sold, fee-paying students for training courses that are on offer, volunteers donating their time and skills to work with the project or will be able to donate materials to get projects started.
Our Seed of Hope centre in Kariti is leading the field in terms of setting up IGAs. They have now expanded their curriculum and taken in fee-paying students in Hair and Beauty and Computer Studies. They are also making use of their land to grown maize and vegetables and rearing chickens and a cow. Njambi, the headteacher at the centre says “It’s important for us to be self-reliant as NGO funds can stop any time. We're a community based program and if we're self-reliant the community can be proud of themselves for what they give the centre.”
It has been an exciting time for our Nairobi centre. Crafted, a fashion brand set up as a social enterprise, has been working with an international jewellery designer to develop a collection called “Kushuka”. This will feature in the Edinburgh Festival in August and is currently on sale in Nairobi. The students and graduates involved in the process were thrilled to see their products on the catwalk.
As our Seed of Hope centres take steps towards sustainability, we appreciate all the supporters who have brought us to where we are now and ensured that Seed of Hope has been able to change the lives of disadvantaged teenagers. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project through Global Giving.
This Wednesday, 13th June, is Bonus Day on Global Giving and all donations to this project will be matched. Please help us spread the word to allow us to take advantage of this special offer from our friends at Global Giving and make an even bigger difference to the lives of our students.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” and that is exactly what happened at our Seed of Hope Centre in Nairobi on the 8th March.
For the first time in Seed of Hope’s history, boys were also present for the International Women’s Day celebrations as the students from Clayton’s Mechanics were also prepared to be inspired by the guest speakers. In fact, the boys actually asked more questions than the girls – men taking advice from women shows just how far we have come since the events that initiated International Women’s Day over one hundred years ago.
The two guest speakers were graduates from Seed of Hope. Rosabella was one of the first Seed of Hope students to graduate back in 2004 and Mercy followed her in 2005.
Rosabella was the first to speak after being introduced to the group by the headteacher, Florence. Rosabella told the students “Seed of Hope came to my rescue and they’re helping me right now in my life. I thought it was the end of the world and the end of me when I didn’t go to secondary school. We all believe going to school is making the future for us.” She then went on to explain how Seed of Hope helped changed her life, the successes she’s had so far and how Seed of Hope can lead to great things. She was given a round of applause when she told the students “You here can go on to employ someone who has been to university!”
Rosabella was definitely an inspiration for the students as she told them that having graduated from Seed of Hope she went on to start her own business which she has built up over the years and is now very successful. She then decided to return to her studies and take herself through secondary school while still maintaining her business. In fact, she just received her final results last week and was congratulated by the Seed of Hope students who had many questions about how to juggle studying and running a business. The advice they were given was it is hard but you have to plan and if you want to achieve in life you have to sacrifice. Her final comment was “I don’t want to ask for favours. I want people to be asking me for favours. I’m from a family of seven and I’m helping my people”.
Mercy then took to the floor and explained how she had joined Seed of Hope when she had no-one to care from her after her parents passed away. She said “It’s a great blessing for me to be here. Spiritually and emotionally I learned a lot at Seed of Hope. I had no-one to care for me and Teacher Florence is now like my mother.” Mercy had a different experience to share as someone had seen her determination during her time at Seed of Hope and decided to pay for her to go to secondary school after she graduated from her course. After completing her secondary education in 2008, she found employment and is now studying a certificate in Business Management with the hope of doing a diploma when she completes the exams she is currently studying for.
Mercy told the students “I am not ashamed to say where I’ve come from. In fact, it’s an encouragement.” Her family was not interested in her before she joined Seed of Hope but now that she is educated and earning Mercy says “I have proved them wrong, I proved that I am someone.” Her advice to the current group of students was to focus on the positive rather than dwell on the negative. She says “Be confident and know what you want in life. If you are determined and have a goal, you will make it. I have not reached where I want to reach. One day I want to be a successful manager of a very big company. One day I’ll come here in my car.”
International Women’s Day 2012 was about “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures”. For Seed of Hope this is an on-going theme and we are proud to see graduates like Rosabella and Mercy achieve their goals and share their stories to inspire more girls to work hard and become successful in their own right.
We would like to thank everyone who has supported Seed of Hope by donating via Global Giving. With your support, we can educate and nurture more girls to be confident and self-reliant like Rosabella and Mercy.
On Wednesday 14th March, our friends at GlobalGiving are matching all donations with 30%. Please help us spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues who would like to make the kind of difference that you have made by supporting our girls at Seed of Hope.
As Vision Africa celebrates it's tenth anniversary this year, one of our key focus areas is making projects sustainable. In fact, the projects we work with have been challenged to raise 30% of their own budget by the end of 2013 through a variety of Income Generating Activities (IGAs).
At our Seed of Hope centre in Nairobi, one of the IGAs is a recycling enterprise called "re:future". The centre collects glass, plastic and paper in large volumes and sells them on to recycling companies. The profits can then be invested in training the students the life skills, business skills and vocational skills they receive at the centre.
We were delighted when GlobalGiving asked if they could use "re:future" to recycle the paper generated from their storytelling project which has been going on in Kenya. Today, we took delivery of the papers which will really help us in our efforts to give disadvantaged girls dignity, hope and opportunity.
2011 has ended with good news for our Seed of Hope centres in Kitui and Kisii. They have been advised that with just a few modifications they can become registered D.I.T (Directorate of Industrial Training) test centres. Currently, Seed of Hope students sit their Grade 2 and Grade 3 dressmaking exams at external test centres. It is hoped that from 2012 they and students from other training centres will pay to sit their exams at Seed of Hope. As well as reducing transport costs for our students, this will also generate income which can help with Seed of Hope’s running costs.
Due to increased exam fees and the very high cost of living many students’ families have been unable to afford the DIT exams this year. However, two of our centres received funding from local authorities which enabled their students to sit their DIT exams. These qualifications, in addition to the Seed of Hope certificates received upon graduation will assist students who wish to seek employment as dressmakers in the future. It will also help with the credibility of the small businesses they start up.
As well as receiving funds to help with exam costs, our Seed of Hope centre in Kitui also received a donation of a ten thousand litre water tank from the Ministry of Water. It is encouraging to see Seed of Hope centres receiving support and recognition from their local government offices.
Our Nairobi Seed of Hope centre also ended the year on a high with a colourful graduation ceremony. Students performed songs, dances, a drama and even a fashion show for the crowd that gathered to celebrate the graduation of the class of 2011. Guest of Honour for the day, PR guru Gina Din, said the event had really encouraged her. “When you hear the names of the places these girls come from, you automatically think of women who are househelps or perform other low income jobs. Now we know there will be independent young business women there who are empowered and can be great role models for their communities.”
Also in attendance on the day was local entrepreneur Evans Muriu who had been invited to officially launch Seed of Hope’s first program for boys, Clayton’s Mechanics. As businessman in the local automobile trade, Evans was able to encourage the first group of students who have enrolled for the course in lifeskills, business skills and mechanics. We are delighted that he has offered to mentor them on an ongoing basis.
After a successful graduation at Kariti Seed of Hope, it wasn’t long before their latest project got underway. As announced at the graduation ceremony, a computer centre has been launched offering lessons in basic computer packages and also bureau services such as printing and copying. This will help the Seed of Hope students who will also receive lessons as well as the local community. You can read more about this in a news article on our website.
All in all, 2011 has been a great year for Seed of Hope. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed towards this project and look forward to reporting more success stories in 2012 so that you can see just what a great investment you have made.
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