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".
On behalf of the staff and students at Seed of Hope we would like to wish all our Global Giving supporters a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Throughout the year that has passed we have been very grateful for all the donations that have been made through Global Giving. These have been a real lifeline and allowed us to continue in our goal of educating young girls who have no hope of attending secondary school and are in desperate need of assistance.
The year has gone well at all four centres despite many challenges faced. We have been delighted at the efforts each centre has made in terms of setting up income generating activities and striving to make their own contribution towards their running costs. From school uniform production to using the land to grow crops, every centre has worked on its own projects rather than sit back waiting for 100% funding.
The Crafted enterprise run by our Nairobi centre has taken off in 2010. Orders for clothing have been consistently coming in and have featured in a few fashion shows. The most recent of these was organised by a British expat lady who had been introduced to Crafted clothing at another event and decided she would like to help raise awareness of the brand and the work of Seed of Hope. The event was a fantastic success and brought in several orders as well as raising funds through raffles, ticket sales etc.
This year was the first time that graduations took place in September for our second year students after they sat their Grade 2 government trade exams. The graduates are now busy in their own businesses or jobs they have secured since passing their exams. Our first year students have just completed their Grade 3 exams and are now on holiday until the New Year. Florence, headteacher of one of the centres, said that the last term had gone well and that she was very happy with the work the girls had done and with their high level of attendance in class.
Towards the end of the term, the enrolment process was kicked off with teachers starting to get word out in local communities that places would be available from January. The new year will see a new group of girls enrolled at each centre giving them hope for an independent future.
Our thanks go to everyone who has supported Seed of Hope this year through Global Giving and we look forward to bringing you further updates in the New Year.
If you are looking for a gift, check out Global Giving’s “Gifts for Good” where you’ll find a bracelet made by some of our girls!!
Now that graduation is over, it’s time for Seed of Hope Class of 2010 to get down to business...literally. It’s now time for them to put into practice all that they have learned and start becoming independent young women.
For one graduate at our Nairobi centre, last Saturday saw her dreams turn to reality as she was given a graduation present of a sewing machine from a group of supporters from Nairobi Chapel. A few months ago we told the story of how the group from the neighbouring church had been amazed at the distance Winnie walked to school each day, having visited her home as part of an exercise to learn about Seed of Hope. Every day, Winnie left home at 6am to reach school by 8am and then had the same two hour walk to get home at the end of the day. Despite this, she had one of the best attendance records and was one of the most punctual students. Whilst visiting her home, the group from Nairobi Chapel learned that she lives with her sister who has two young children and life is not easy for the family. Touched by Winnie’s story and her dedication to her studies, they decided to buy her a sewing machine so that she can start working towards the “wonderful future” she told us that she strives for.
Winnie has been joined by another two girls to start up their small business in Kibera called "Joyful Dressmaking Shop". One of these is Peninah, a graduate from 2009 who has been working for Crafted recently and is now looking to build up a business. She will make a contribution to the start-up costs from money that she has earned in her time with Crafted. The third partner in the business, Hamisa, has strong support for her family with her mother investing in an ironbox, mirror and fabrics. It is anticipated that this partnership will result in a successful business as everyone has made an investment and is willing to work hard. This week, the girls collected their first rent installment from Seed of Hope and set up their shop using garments made in their time at school to complete the display. Another two small businesses will also be set up in other parts of Nairobi by some of the other students.
Not all those who graduated this year have joined a group business. One graduate was offered a job at a local textile business which produces children’s clothes and toys. Another girl has returned to her rural home to set up a business on her own. After completing her course, her aunt felt that she could assist her and provide all that she needed with the exception of a sewing machine which was provided by Seed of Hope. Having been a hard-working student in school and with the strong support of her family we are sure that this is another business that will take off.
These are just a few stories from our Nairobi centre. Our other three centres are going through the same process of setting up Roots businesses at the moment with 6 new businesses in Kisii, 5 in Kitui and 4 in Kariti. We look forward to bringing you more updates over the next few months.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Seed of Hope through GlobalGiving and made it possible for us to train our students and provide them with the sewing machines, rent and licences they require to start up their businesses.
October 12th is a matching day on GlobalGiving. If you like what we’re doing, please spread the word and help us raise funds to continue supporting girls and offering them Dignity, Hope and Opportunity.
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!
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