Dec 30, 2014

Peer Mentoring Report: No Giving up!

To our Dear Supporters, We have expereinced many challenges but we are not giving up.
On Sunday 22, 2015, Mary, Hellen, Teresia and Joyce arrived at the training ground in the village ready to observe the graduates for the second time on how well they can facilitate health and human rights trainings. We were pleasantly surprised at the tremendous improvement from the previous(November 10, 11) facilitation shown by the 26 graduates who arrived. The HFAW team literary hugged them for the job well done. We had discussed the women and men all week long on how their enthusiasm did not match their first performance. But this time we saw women who took our feedback seriously and took charge; who understood content; that made sure everybody participated; who involved various methods such as circle discussion, group work and went overboard with use of various dynamics. Some of the teaching aids included use of locally made materials such as rings made from banana fibres. We saw women and me use dynamics to make the point that men need to also baby sit and the men took it positively and even demonstrated carrying a baby on their back. We think that the men in the group will ultimately be role models for the community. Lisper who is one of the younger women said, “I honestly did not know I could train since I am shy but now I feel ready.” Elizabeth who is the chair to the grassroots committee opened up to us “Your tough feedback was a wakeup call, we had not realized that facilitation was so challenging until you made us do it.” Evans who is a jovial man had this to say. “You know, when you put me on the spot I thought you were cruel but now I appreciate your way of doing things. I thank you for putting up with us.” And he told the team to clap for us and for themselves. That they were pleased with themselves was so clear. They were even more pleased when we told them we were happy with the way they had improved.

We reiterated that what we did was to make sure they can bring the solutions to the many problems afflicting our community. HFAW team and the graduates agreed that nothing had been done yet until we use the popular education methods to solve our community problems, one by one.

Therefore, went a step further and discussed how the graduates will put their skills to practical community work in January 2015. They had already identified teenage pregnancy in the village as acute problem leading to girls dropping out of school. Since we have been invited to talk to girls in the neighborhood primary school the opportunity has presented to them to mentor girls here. They have scheduled the plan for January 12, 2015 after discussions with school administration. We left them to follow lessons learned and prepare to tackle sexual assault issues, violence against girls, early pregnancies, and FGM in early January as they work with the school. HFAW team will stand behind them to give feedback and help them along the way.
When we first conducted our assessment of the graduates’ facilitation skills we left feeling discouraged due to the performance that did not match their enthusiasm nor our expectation. We worried that our graduates were not up to the task for 2015. The Hope Foundation team worked with the graduates to reshuffle the 4 team members and categorized tasks according to talents. We gave many feedbacks concerning effective facilitation plus more hands on. We gave out work and promised to be back on 22 of November for more observation. That is why this second observation meant so much to both the graduates and HFAW team.
As a young organization, HFAW has experienced many challenges. We are nurturing vulnerable rural women (and men) who are forgotten in our country. We lack resources to do a better job. We travel from Nairobi to empower these women. It can be very overwhelming and discouraging for us. And on your end, it is very easy to think that your resources are not worth it. As my mentor Karen Anderson said to me, “you make two steps forward and a few steps backward before you finally succeed.” Social justice is really hard work that requires a lot of understanding and perseverance for all of us who care. If we have not given you frequent feedback on how grateful we are for your support and what progress we are making, it is because of the formidable challenges we have to overcome. HFAW team wants you to know that we are not deterred by the challenges. We need your support now more than ever before. Thank you for standing up with us.

Sep 23, 2014

You brought Joy and you are building a movement!

As I write this report, I yearn to stretch my arms and hug every one of you, our dear supporters. When we began the health and human rights promoter training early this year, we knew it was important. But none of us imagined the extent of the joy it will bring to the women especially and men. And so in this report we are thrilled to share the joy experienced by the 30 graduates on September 2,2014 as they cerebrated “our day” as they called it.

This day was the culmination of an exciting, transformative and empowering training which seeks to address various human rights and gender issues in Nyamira County. Key among these issues is FGM, gender based violence, and HIV/AIDS, general reproductive health and advancement of human rights. This was a major achievement having all 30 of them graduate on September 2…and surely how could they contain their joy. Each one of them was joined by family members to show them what they have been up to all these months.

Now we have 4 solid teams to move on and spread the training to 4 different locations come January 2015 should we find funding: That is Mekenene, Esise, Kiabonyoru and one remains at home Nyansiongo where we begun. The motivation we see in these women and the men and their determination to transform their lives and those of others confirms to us that this is the way to go for the Entire County and later Kenya. "Today, I am a transformed person, that action plan can be used even in our homes" said Karen Nyaboke. She says she is ready to go out and transform others. Karen was to tell later during our strategy meeting how her husband who does not believe that a woman can lead even if she holds a PhD and how he is slowly changing his mind partly due to the teachings Karen is doing at home and also due to his attendance of Karen’s graduation, where he listened to a whole lot of inspired women and men. On the said strategy meeting John Keranda also enthusiastically shared how he used to be arrogant and dictated things but now consults. He earned a real good clap from the audience when he again said that because of the training he shared a piece of his tea plot so his wife can also pick and earn her own money. Many of the graduands were very inspiring. We have trained them to empower themselves first before they can go out and empower others in order to serve as a good example. We have also prepared them on the backlash awaiting them out there which they must not succumb to.

In rare light moment during graduation ceremony, Evans said he can now show love in public to his wife as he has been taught—which made audience laugh so loud. This is a culture teaches men discriminate against women by excluding them at all areas of lives. I need to state that part of our training discusses family issues. We do emphasize that there can never be stronger families in homes where the woman is despised, abused and dismissed. We also enumerate the many things the man and his family misses out when the woman is ignored and unhappy.

We were joined by 5 law makers; two from our county and three from the neighboring Kisii county. They all agreed that this program needs to spread across the nation. They could see clear change of the participants as they shared their experiences with telling how the training has transformed them. They were so inspiring and confident on stage and admitted looking younger and brighter in those yellow t-shirts. "We from Kisii County would like to copy this idea from you and I will be the first one to be taught," said Hon Christine. "You have brought a storm to Abagusii" said Winfrida, who is member of NGO Council. She welcomed us to seek her help in one way or another.
The County Women’s Representative also reiterated that she would like to support the spread of the methods throughout the County of Nyamira and beyond since the woman has no boundaries all of them need to be reached. We were pleased to see politicians say positive things about our work. Only time will tell if they will keep their promises. This day will be remembered for a very long time because so many positive things happened.

We have strategized to provide peer to peer mentoring to all the 30 graduates which will happen through December. The big agenda of scaling to 4 locations begins early next year. Are we too ambitious? Considering the impact this training is achieving I think it is worthy it to press on. Each team will require over $20,000 to be able to do a good job of training another 30 promoters plus an outreach to over 400 people by each team. This means we need over $80,000 for the four team and $20,000 to support HFAW team. We need to build a huge critical mass of our methods in these locations if we are ever going to address the issues. That not even one person dropped out of the training should speak volumes. We are now appealing to every one of you to help us reach the 4 locations. We hate that we have to come back to you. However, we know you know why this cause is so important. The fate of Africa is destined to be resolved by African women. Kindly reach out, organize, fundraise, do house parties and help Hope Foundation to take this movement to an unstoppable level. Help us raise the first $18,000 and we go from there. We have updated our proposal to reflect our growth. WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS! AND CREATING IMPACT.

With all our sincere gratitude,
Dr. Grace Mose Okong’o
PS: Please note that Nyamira and Kisii are two separate counties occupied by Abagusii people. Also please ignore some errors and gliches in the video; our very first video was done by our dear young university girl volunteer, Pauline Ooko. We have no resources to hire professionals.

Jul 7, 2014

Your Donation was Critical, Thank You!

Participants set of to campaign against FGM
Participants set of to campaign against FGM

We want to thank you,  our supporters. Because of your generosity and good will, we have been able to earn a permanent spot on GlobalGiving. We had 4 weeks to raise $5000 from 40 donors. You helped raise $6146 from 56 donors by June 30th. HFAW team and beneficiary women (and men) are so grateful to you for making it possible for the training of human and health promoters in Kisii to continue. This training which began in February 2014 is based on popular education model which has been highly successful in transforming communities in Chile, South America. After a two week intensive training in Chile (thanks to EPES Foundation) 6 Kenyan women came back to Kenya inspired to immediately embark on a six month pilot training to empower women ( and a few supportive men) to confront many gender issues in this highly patriarchal community. The Abagusii (Kisii) genitally mutilates over 94 % of its girls and women; women have to deal with rampant gender based violence and HIV/AIDS; The community is one of the most polygamous in the world with rampant corruption. Gender discrimination is acute just like the rest of Kenya and Africa where many grassroots women are not aware of their human and women’s rights.

HFAW is committed to empower these women to address these problems. In February the HFAW team prepared for the training; in March we motivated garnered community and leadership support; In April we publicly launched the training through raising awareness of these issues and embarked on the actual training which continues until today. (Please see the PDF report given as additional information of our project). We believe that popular education model will be highly effective in transforming the Kisii community because with some innovation to the model to appeal to African values, it is resonating with the grassroots community to fight and end the most entrenched of the issues. The model is:
• Completely learner centered
• Fully participatory (avoids lecture which has failed many organizations in the community) and compels each person to understand the issue, what causes the issue, how the issue is hurting them and the community and what they can do collectively to solve the issue
• We do not work for people, we work with them. We create an environment where everybody feels knowledgeable, valued and respected.
• We appeal to values of stronger families, stronger women and men and theological principles which many Africans appreciate
• We create a fun and safe environment where every participant feels safe to share their ideas. The learning is also made fun through games, music and dance. We also use lots of teaching aids, resources and dynamic evaluation methods.
• Because of total community engagement we have been able to empower the participants with skills to identify the issues, prioritize the issues(FGM, GVB, poverty, human rights, HIV/AIDS, alcoholism), understand the issues, create an action plan to the issues and implement the action plan
Just on June 24 the health promoters were able to effectively and publicly campaign against FGM as they raised awareness in the market and among students. They were able to talk about the issue, dramatize on the issue, and actively answered challenging questions on the issue. Through this activity they proved that they can be active agents in transforming their community. Many of the men and women who watched from the sidelines wanted to join and support the health promoters. Everybody feels so motivated. Most important the health and human rights promoters felt that they made a breakthrough. “I always watch people in some other part of the world do activism; I never imagined I can be one. Today I am a changed person” said Joyce, one of the trainees.

We believe that we have a model that will change the gender dynamics in Kisii, Kenya and Africa. The answer to African problems especially those impacting on women lie in empowering grassroots women to know their rights and how to stand up for them. Due to your help, we will continue nudging them to realize that they are key to their community transformation. Our desire is to scale up the methods to reach the 4 wards of Borabu sub county, and then later the whole of Nyamira county. To train the 30 health and human rights promoters for 6 months we require $25,000 including a humble salary for HFAW staff. Currently HFAW staff operates on volunteer basis. Please reach out to your friends, colleagues and all kinds of well-wishers to help us reach our funding goal of $25,000 and build a movement that will end gender discrimination in Kisii. We have earned a spot on global giving, so tax deductive donations will reach us through global giving site.
We will keep you well updated on all our progress and achievements. Please visit our website and facebook below to see photos of our work portraying the trainings and the campaign against FGM.
Again, thank you for all your help!

health promoters sharing information at  market
health promoters sharing information at market
Sharing information on FGM with students
Sharing information on FGM with students
Fun, music and dance brings joy to our participant
Fun, music and dance brings joy to our participant
Addressing the media
Addressing the media
Courage to share publicly her woes(effect) -of FGM
Courage to share publicly her woes(effect) -of FGM
Men stood behind women to watch trainees speak up
Men stood behind women to watch trainees speak up
Chief addressed the public to embrace the training
Chief addressed the public to embrace the training


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