The last few months have been busy for Seed of Hope. Both our first and second year students have been sitting their external trade exams and in September we saw three out of our four centres hold their graduation ceremonies. These two events are closely linked – traditionally, Seed of Hope has held graduations in December but since our second year students started sitting their trade exams, a number of them were able to find employment and put their skills to good use before their graduation ceremony. This year, it was decided that graduations would be held shortly after the exams so that all students who had completed their course at Seed of Hope would be there.
The graduations were held at our Kisii, Kitui and Nairobi centres with our Kariti ceremony scheduled to take place on the 6th October. As always, the graduations were colourful events with the girls wearing outfits they had designed and produced for themselves. At the Nairobi centre there was a fashion show as each girl made a grand entrance to show off her creation. At the end of the ceremony two of the students put on bridal outfits they had made as first years and gave the crowd an extra treat as they walked “up the aisle” together and had their first dance.
At each of the centres, the income generating activities are becoming more established and the three rural centres are doing a great job in providing their feeding program through cultivating their shambas (land used for farming). Despite the arid conditions, Kitui centre in Kangweni has even managed to grow some sukuma (kales) and cowpeas this year. The installation of a water pump by the Dunfermline Rotary club has made it easier for water to be fetched for watering the vegetables but it is hoped that a borehole can be dug so that there is sufficient water to irrigate a larger area of the shamba. This centre has also been rearing chickens and rabbits to generate income. On a tour of the compound before the graduation ceremony we were told that the local community barters with the Seed of Hope centre and will give them small chicks to rear in exchange for rabbits which are a local delicacy.
“Crafted” is a social enterprise that has been set up to support the Nairobi Seed of Hope centre but also allows fantastic opportunities for us to raise awareness of the Seed of Hope program. In recent months Crafted clothing has appeared in a number of fashion shows, designs were included in an exhibition by local telcom company Safaricom and our jewellery Crafters were invited to share their skills and hold a workshop for young children. You can find out more about these events and keep up to date with Crafted on our blog http://craftedkenya.wordpress.com
Once again, we’d really like to express our appreciation for the support donors have shown through GlobalGiving. The funds we receive make a great difference and allow us to keep running our centres which are changing the lives of disadvantaged girls in Kenya and giving them dignity, hope and opportunity. Thank you for being a part of this!
Our Seed of Hope centre in Kariti, Murang’a, is a great success story. Under the leadership of Headteacher Njambi, the staff and students work hard both in class and in the other activities that sustain the project. Of all the Vision Africa projects, Seed of Hope Kariti has made the biggest steps towards self-sustainability.
Due to a decline in funding last year, the feeding program at each Seed of Hope centre was suspended. Rather than simply sit back and have students attend school without lunch, Njambi and her team took action and worked with staff, students and parents to come up with solutions. Great use has been made of the large shamba (land for farming) with vegetables and maize being grown. Unfortunately the recent crop of beans was lost due to heavy rains but a large maize harvest is anticipated in August. The shamba has also been planted with a lot of napier grass some of which is used to feed the centre’s cows and some of which is sold to generate income.
Another way in which the centre is generating income is through the sale of clothing to paying customers. On a recent visit by Field Director Deborah Kimathi, some of the second year students proudly showed off clothes they were making for customers. The students told us they had sourced the customers from their own villages by explaining what they were doing at Seed of Hope and that if people thought the clothes made were nice they could buy them. The girls are working in groups of 2 or 3 students to secure orders and told us that this is good practice for when they have their own businesses. When asked who would have the best business, there was no hesitation as every girl raised her hand and said “I will!”. This confidence is one of the greatest skills girls learn in their time at Seed of Hope.
The local authorities have been of great help to Kariti Seed of Hope centre. By working closely with the administration, supplies of government relief food have been received which supplement what is grown in the shamba. The other breakthrough is that thanks to CDF money (Community Development Fund) electricity has now been installed at the centre and a number of computers have been ordered so that students will be able to learn basic IT skills. A cyber will also be set up to generate income by servicing the local community members who currently travel 20km to find internet access for checking emails etc.
As this project continues to make steps towards becoming self-sufficient, we still need to find funding to support their tremendous efforts. Thank you to everyone who has supported Seed of Hope by donating on Global Giving. As you can see it is going to great use!
ASANTENI SANA! Thank you very much! We are extremely grateful to everyone who helped our project reach the initial target of $10,000. Each and every donation has helped us continue running our four Seed of Hope centres in Kenya giving dignity, hope and opportunity to destitute teenage girls.
When we were pulling together our information for the GlobalGiving challenge, we weren’t sure what to set as a target. $4,000 was the amount required to secure a place but we wanted to aim higher. To run our four centres for one year costs around $50,000 so $10,000 seemed like a good starting point and you helped us achieve that total in a period of nine months. This has really helped us in the funding of the centres and given the support we have seen from GlobalGiving donors, we decided to increase the target to $20,000...we know we can make it!
In line with the Kenyan school holidays, all our centres were closed for the month of April. During this break, the staff from all the centres came together in Nairobi for two days of training and exchanging ideas. Students returned at the beginning of May for their second term which will see our second year students prepare for their trade exams in Dressmaking. These exams are the same ones that government polytechnic students sit – the difference with our course is that we also train students with invaluable business skills and life skills. Many girls have problems with self-esteem when they enrol at our centres due to the circumstances from which they have come. Through counselling and lessons in Personal and Social Education, they gain a confidence which enables them to chat freely with visitors to the centre and to their own clients when they graduate and set up their own business.
Another difference between our curriculum and that of the government polytechnics is that students learn how to produce “marketable crafts” such as jewellery, mats, leather bags etc. They also learn about fashion and design and how to create their own designs. On a recent trip to our Kariti centre in Murang’a, we were shown some printing blocks the girls were working on. Showing great resourcefulness, the teacher had shown the girls how to make these from old flipflops! A fantastic example of recycling – check out the picture to see the results.
As well as seeking international donations for Seed of Hope, we have also been working with local individuals and church groups who are willing to assist the centres. In Nairobi, a group of visitors from a nearby church took time to visit the homes of some students in Kibera slums then headed to the centre to meet all the students. They were so touched by what they saw that they have decided to support the feeding program at this centre, ensuring that every girl will be given lunch at school. The same group also brought bags of newspapers which can be sold as part of the centre’s recycling project, re:future, to generate income towards the running costs.
Students are very much encouraged when we tell them that people locally and internationally are supporting them through their course. This motivates them to also help themselves by working hard and by contributing to the income generating activity at their centre. On behalf of the students, staff and management committees of each centre thank you for this support and we look forward to announcing that we have reached our revised target!
*** June 16th is International Day of the African Child....and also matching day on GlobalGiving where all donations will be matched with 50%. A great opportunity for us to take a step closer to that target! Please spread the word.***
To mark International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, we’d like to bring you our latest update from Seed of Hope where we are helping young destitute girls become strong independent women.
Recruitment at Seed of Hope is drawing to a close for this year with new girls being enrolled at all four centres. Encouragingly, there was a very low drop-out rate over the Christmas holidays and our second year students are now in full swing as they prepare for their trade exams.
On a recent visit to our Kariti centre in Central Province, our chairman from the UK, Bob Dowty, was given a guided tour by two second year students. These confident young women spoke with pride of their centre and as they introduced him to their new colleagues in first year they gave them words of encouragement to greet the visitor and welcome him. We were shown round their shamba (farmland) where they have been growing grass for the cows along with maize, kales and other vegetables. The students explained that as part of their lifeskills lessons they are the ones to help with the farming and also the ones to cook lunch every day. There was a moment of pride when one of the girls turned to us and said “we cannot go hungry with this shamba here”. For us, this seemed to be a great example of self sufficiency and independence leading to pride.
At our Nairobi centre, we have watched as some of last year’s graduates have found employment or started on the first steps to opening their own business. It is hard to believe that these well groomed, confident young women were the same girls who showed up two years ago and couldn’t look at the camera when we tried to take photographs for our sponsorship program. They now have the self-belief that they can be businesswomen and look after themselves and their families. This is a great testimony to the work of Seed of Hope.
On the 27th of February, Vision Africa held a celebration to show appreciation for the work of its founders, Rev. and Mrs. Packard. Every project was invited to produce a piece of art to thank the founders for assisting them in some way. The Seed of Hope entries caught everyone’s eyes – a beaded picture of a giraffe on leather, knitted scarves with the words “thank you” on them, a traditional bag and an embroidered hanging were greatly admired by Mrs. Packard who commended the girls for the skills and creativity they had shown.
On that day, graduates of Seed of Hope were invited to join the celebration. A large number of young women showed up, many of them in outfits they had designed and created themselves. Looking around, you would never be able to tell what these women had been through in their time before Seed of Hope. They looked like happy, confident, determined women who really are living a life of dignity, hope and opportunity – great role models for our current students and a credit to the work of Seed of Hope.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported Seed of Hope and hope that you can see that you are part of something that is really making a difference to young women in Kenya.
Stunning designs, displays of craftwork, proud teachers and happy students – November saw graduations at all four Seed of Hope centres in Kisii, Kitui, Muranga and Nairobi. Approximately 115 girls graduated this year on completion of their two year course. To mark the event, each graduate was presented with four certificates – MicroBusiness Skills, Life Skills, Vocational Skills and overall achievement.
At each centre, the students put together a display of their work to show parents and guests. At the Kitui centre, first year students were on hand to take people on guided tours of the compound before the graduation ceremony. These tours showed the work that was being done on the shamba (farming of crops), income generating activities such as beekeeping and chicken breeding as well as an introduction to each of the subjects studied as part of the two year course. At this centre, the first year students had also used their lifeskills lessons to bake a cake for the graduates. This was shared out amongst the graduates, students and guests.
Also included in the program at each centre were testimonies from girls explaining how Seed of Hope has changed their lives. One of the most moving speeches was by a Nairobi graduate who told the audience how she had passed her primary school exams “with flying colours” but her parents were unable to afford secondary school fees. She then went on to say how she felt upset, useless and ashamed as she watched her classmates go to secondary school while she was left at home. There was a silence as this girl stood before a tent full of people and told them that in her darkest moment she even wanted to die. In her words, “an angel” (family friend) came to her mother and told her about Seed of Hope. After being interviewed and enrolled, she then started the program which she feels gave her the opportunity to turn her life around. As she spoke with a confidence which she says is a skill gained in her time at Seed of Hope, there was no doubt that this is one graduate who is going to work hard to succeed in life.
Each year, second year students are required to create their own graduation outfits. This year, this formed part of the final project and was a competition between the four centres. The top designers from each centre all came together at the Nairobi graduation. This was a great opportunity for the graduates to see the work of their fellow students from other parts of the country.
Leading the way in terms of fashion design was the Nairobi centre. As in recent years, a fashion show was held and each second year student had produced an outfit to be modelled by a first year student. This year, the first years requested the opportunity to play a bigger role and designed outfits for a bride and bridegroom which featured in the show. The headteacher from the Muranga centre told us that her graduates who attended the Nairobi event had been inspired and wanted to go back and tell their fellow students to raise the bar next year in terms of design.
One of the key messages at each graduation ceremony was appreciation for the support shown by Vision Africa donors and sponsors. Emily, a graduate from Kitui centre said that she would like to thank the sponsors because “the knowledge we have and the things we have are because of you”. We would like to echo this message and pass on our gratitude on behalf of all students and graduates of Seed of Hope and we hope that with your help we will be able to continue our program in the coming years.
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