Teams lining up ready for football
One out of every four girls in Kenya is married off before the age of 18, a new report has revealed. North Eastern and Upper Eastern have the highest prevalence of marrying off underage girls at 56% and Nairobi has the lowest at 7%.
Many girls in the villages are seen as capital and parents are ashamed of the girls getting pregnant before marriage. Many parents enter into a future contract in advance where the parents of the boy will buy the girl at a predetermined price at a specified time in future. In order to facilitate the exchange the parents of the girl have to ensure they deliver quality girl or one that is untouched. In most instances now the exchange is inform of livestock or money and to justify this economic transaction communities have combined culture coated with religion so that no one can question.
Despite the fact that Kenyan parliament adopted Marriage Act in 2014 which gives the age of marriage as 18. The legislation has done little to curb the criminal act even though the legislation purportedly applies to both customary and religious marriages. If the law was to be followed to the latter then many of the parents we are currently working with will be in jail. We choose to break the silence through football. In the beginning the girls playing football was unacceptable; lifting your legs up was considered a taboo.
In the past 4 years HODI's numbers are impressive, it's seeing HODI's work at play in the lives of individual girls that really illustrates how the innovative approach is transforming lives. The initial team had 12 girls who played in HODI league. This was short lived after the 1st regional tournament 8 of the girls was kidnapped for marriage the year was 2008. A decade later the situation has changed for the better but this took a lot of commitment and encouragement from the staff, the schools and the community.
We will share with you the story of the vice president; the 1st one ever in her school and from her village. A young girl, 14 years old, is the Deputy President at her school. This is something you cannot dare dream of in the past. Having been brought up by a single mother in a vulnerable family the young girl was the only daughter of her parents. "I was so shy at first," she says, "but after some time football changed me.
For several years parents did not support girls playing football but in the future, when I'm a mother, I want to support girls playing football. Breaking the silence sessions deal with issues of confidence, hygiene, rights and responsibility and learning about money. “She’s also in the top five of her class - a position usually reserved for the more outspoken boys, says her head teacher, ”Since she started participating in football league, she has opened up in terms of her performance and leadership skills." All of this is possible because of the football otherwise she would have been a child mother like many others.
It takes a lot of courage and commitment to keep a girl away from child marriage and help her pursue her dreams through education. The young girls dream is to be the Governor of Marsabit County one day in future; this will only remain as a dream if not nurtured. Daring to dream is the first step and this has been made possible because of the support you have continued to give HODI as an organisation. The donations helped purchase sanitary pads for the girls; offer life skills sessions; football sessions and above all support girls like the young girl with leadership awards to pursue her studies.
In order for a vulnerable girl to access basic education she will need tuition fees for 4 academic years in high school; sanitary pads and other essentials. This is combined with football and lifeskills sessions on being herself, being healthy, being empowered and knowledge about money giving her confidence and enabling her to have a voice and choice.
The cost of tuition fees alone for one vulnerable girl is $1,000 for one academic year. While we have 2 football pitches and a few safe spaces for the girls to play; HODI;s Dream is to have the HODI Center where the girls have access to all the services in one place and are kept away from child marriage. The physical plans are already in place and as a team we shall keep you posted on the bigger dream on making every home safe for the girls.
It’s now 4.00pm in Kenya and time to start packing and getting ready to walk home!
Girls getting ready for their1st game