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!
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.
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