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.
Graduations are just around the corner for our four Seed of Hope centres. Over the next couple of months, students will be working on their final projects and preparing to put in to practice the skills they have learnt in their two years at Seed of Hope. We look forward to posting pictures of their outfits which they will model on graduation day. Some of the centres go as far as to host a fashion show with first year students modelling outfits made by the second years.
Sadly, the food crisis in Kenya has seen unprecedented increases on food prices throughout the countries and as families have to tighten their belts, we have seen a sharp drop in the number of students who have been able to afford their government trade exams this year. This makes our Roots program even more important as it will allow graduates to set up small businesses rather than rely on employment which would require them to provide trade certificates. By equipping our students with Business Skills and Life Skills that build their confidence, we can give them the opportunity to start a business which will allow them to live independently and help themselves and their families in the future.
Our Nairobi Seed of Hope centre has been fortunate enough to gain support from the local organic farmers’ market. Each week, they are invited to collect produce which has been left over after the market and this is used to help with the feeding program that ensures students take lunch each day. Check out Purity’s video to see just how important it is to the girls that they take lunch at school. Over the August holidays, the headteacher of the Nairobi centre received numerous calls from students asking if they could go to school – even if it was just to do some general cleaning. This was because the girls were desperately looking for lunch so that they could ease the burden on their families.
It is times like these that we realise just how important Seed of Hope is to our girls and we really couldn’t keep the centres running without your support. We would like to thank each and every person who has made a donation to this project via GlobalGiving and let you know that your support is offering a bright future to girls who had no hope.
Seed of Hope students are as busy as ever. There are government exams to register and prepare for and second year students are starting to think about the designs for their final project – an outfit for their graduation which will take place in the final term.
On a recent visit to our Kariti centre in Murang’a, we found both the hairdressing and dressmaking students were working hard with their studies. They are also having success with their land as recent rains have meant the shamba (land for agriculture) is very green with maize and Napier grass. Once harvested, the maize will help with the centre’s feeding program while the Napier grass can be used to feed their cows with excess being sold to generate further income. When we visited the project last week with a group of visitors from the UK, headteacher Njambi proudly showed off some of the craft work that had been done by students including printing, knitting, weaving and leather work. We were then guided around the classrooms and shamba before being treated to some musical entertainment from the students. It was great to watch the confidence with which they performed and the pride that teachers and students take in their school. One of the most astounding facts for the visitors was that some girls walk 10km to get to school each day and the same to get home again at night. These are girls who really must value the education that Seed of Hope is offering them.
Our centre in Nyamache, Kisii, will be the second centre to add a hair and beauty course to its curriculum. Thanks to a donation from the Caledonian Society in Kenya, the initial start up materials will be purchased in the near future and the course can get underway once a teacher has been employed. This fee-paying course will help to generate income to subsidize the costs for the students who are in desperate need and are unable to pay for education after leaving primary school.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Seed of Hope through GlobalGiving. We really appreciate every donation that is made as the funds raised through GlobalGiving make it possible for us to keep our centres running and give our students hope for the future.
Wednesday June 15th is BONUS DAY on GlobalGiving. Every donation received by this project will be matched at 30% by our dear friends at GlobalGiving. Please spread the word to your friends, family and co-workers and help us make the most of this very generous offer.
Together we can create brighter futures!
This year marks the 100th International Women’s Day on March 8th. The theme for this year is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women”. To celebrate the occasion, Seed of Hope has invited several women, including graduates from the program, to talk at their Nairobi centre and inspire the next generation of students as they undergo the training that will help them on the pathway towards either employment or self-employment.
Recruitment is ongoing at all four Seed of Hope centres and our head-teachers have reported that only three of last year’s students failed to return for their second year of training. This is a record low and a great sign that the program is still going strong.
One of the big changes this year has been the addition of a second vocational course at our Kariti centre. As you may have seen in earlier updates, Kariti has been one of the strongest centres in terms of embracing the concept of income generating activities. As well as producing school uniforms and cultivating grass for cow feed, they started rearing animals and this has really paid off. The four pigs they bought for 6,000ksh (about £50) and reared for one and a half years were recently sold for 25,500ksh. The board at the school agreed to head-teacher Njambi’s suggestion that these proceeds could be used to start a hair salon to generate income and provide a second option for students. A food store was the only available space so this was quickly converted while the board sought a qualified teacher for the course and purchased the items necessary to get the course started.
A total of 36 students have signed up for the new course so far. This includes 26 of Seed of Hope’s existing students who pay a reduced fee to study hairdressing in addition to the dressmaking course they enrolled to study. The ten external students pay 800ksh (£6.50) per month for what is anticipated to be an 8-12 month course. Students will practice on each other as well as fee-paying customers from the local community. Students and teachers who have had their hair styled at the salon are already attracting clients as they walk home from school with their new hairdos. Local churches have also been asked to announce the course and the existence of the salon to help promote it. When we asked teacher Njambi how the services offered compared to those available in local salons she told us “I don’t think there is any better salon than ours” and described it as a classic salon for such a rural setting but with some improvements. Within the first two months, the salon was making enough profit to cover the teacher’s costs so we are optimistic that this program will do well and would like to replicate it at our other centres.
Another exciting piece of news that came to us recently is that the parents/guardians of the students at our centre in Nyamache, Kisii, got together and raised enough money to buy a cow. This will be used to supply milk and also any calves produced will be sold to raise funds for the centre. It is great to see such support for the income generating activities at our centres as we feel these are the key to their sustainability. They also provide valuable experience to students as they see small businesses in action throughout their training.
Teacher Redemter from our Kitui centre gave us an update on the graduates’ businesses that were started in September 2010. She told us that all five shops that opened are doing well and gave us the example of one of the new business women: “Eunice is the second in her family. She has both parents but they are poor and could not afford to educate her past primary education so she joined our center. During her first year she could not keep up with the other girls and this made her do her grade exams in second year when she excelled. Along with fellow graduates she started a shop in Kamale shopping center and they are doing well here being the best in dressmaking and customer attraction. She buys her materials from Kitui town which is quite a distance and at first she used to walk so as to save money. She has managed to give a good name to our center due to her good work. She has plans to expand her shop when she gets more capital.”
Thank you to all our supporters on GlobalGiving who have helped Seed of Hope continue to offer girls dignity, hope and opportunity. Help us celebrate International Women's Day by telling your friends, family and colleagues about our work and together we'll help more girls on the "pathway to decent work".
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