Heshima Kenya

Heshima Kenya is a 501(c)(3) US nonprofit and registered Kenyan charity based in Nairobi, Kenya. Heshima is the Swahili word for "respect" and we specialize in identifying and protecting separated and orphaned refugee children and youth living in Nairobi. Our innovative shelter, education and community outreach services enable and empower unaccompanied refugee children, especially adolescent girls, to live healthy lives.
Jun 11, 2012

The Maisha Collective

Annette and her son, Lucky, hard at work.
Annette and her son, Lucky, hard at work.

The Girls Empowerment Project has helped our young women in so many ways. We are very proud of our young women who overcome many struggles to successfully complete the income generation component of the Girls Empowerment Project. The Maisha Collective is a 14-month apprenticeship that serves as the final component of the GEP. The Collective not only teaches the young women financial literacy and management skills, but also provides them with an income for their work, with the goal of living independently and providing for themselves and their families. Euphrozine’s story perfectly displays the outcome we aim for with all of our Maisha Collective participants. 

Euphrozine fled Rwanda in 2008 after her parents were killed. She became pregnant as a result of sexual assault while staying with a host family in Uganda. Upon learning of her pregnancy, her host family forced her to leave. Euphrozine gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Kevin who was born with an array of complications – he is partially blind, deaf, and requires regular therapy because he has cerebral palsy and is epileptic.  Caring for Kevin made it difficult for Euphrozine to find a safe home, receive an education or earn any income. Her situation seemed hopeless.

 Then Euphrozine and Kevin found Heshima Kenya.  Upon entering, Euphrozine and Kevin were supported in the Safe House, and utilized a variety of case management services that Heshima provides. When Euphrozine was ready, she joined the Maisha Collective, the income generation component of Heshima Kenya. While enrolled in the Maisha Collective, Euphrozine worked extremely hard to earnestly save her money so she could live independently. 

 Euphrozine’s hard work proved successful - on March 9th, she and Kevin moved to their first home as a family, a challenge Euphrozine assumed she would never achieve because of her son’s disability. She will continue to participate in the Maisha Collective and Heshima Kenya will support Kevin’s medical care. Reflecting upon the joys and challenges of her recent independence, Euphrozine shares “I wanted to be independent - to take care of my baby, and feed him with my own money.  At first I was so scared of the unknown - I was scared that I would be out there with my child as a refugee in a city that is still very foreign to me. Then I finally said, let me try.  Now, I'm proud of myself - and it’s not scary, because I'm not alone - I still have Heshima Kenya.”

Euphrozine laughing with friends.
Euphrozine laughing with friends.
Jun 11, 2012

The Power of Recovery: Candide's Story

Residents of the Safe House relaxing.
Residents of the Safe House relaxing.

Recently, we received a written testament to the power of Heshima Kenya from a young woman who moved through our program and is now resettled in the U.S.

Candide’s background is one of many struggles – filled with war and loss. She was born in 1992 and lost her entire family to the genocide in Burundi at only 10 months old. She was moved to a refugee camp, where she remained for 6 years of her life until she was able to move in with a foster family. Candide was forced to leave this home when she found her life was in danger and moved around from country to country seeking shelter, safety, and any distant relatives that may have remained. She entered Kenya by bus, all alone with nowhere to go, until she was referred to Heshima Kenya.

When Candide arrived, she was tired and her spirit was broken, however she was welcomed into the Heshima Kenya Safe House with open arms; Candide felt the staff and residents of the Safe House were truly happy to have her there. Candide reflects upon her entry: “The people of Heshima Kenya warmly (welcomed) me and all the Heshima Kenya officers continued to work with me to make my life better.  The Heshima counselors helped me to accept my past and begin building my future. At Heshima Kenya my life was good and quiet.  I felt safe.  It was a wonderful place for me to live.” Candide began a new life at Heshima – in the Girls Empowerment Program she learned Swahili, English, Math, and life skills – such as cooking, cleaning, and other household responsibilities.

Finally,  Candide was able to be resettled in the United States. While she was thrilled because her life would no longer be in danger, and she could continue school to pursue her dream of becoming a criminal lawyer, she was greatly saddened to leave her Heshima family. She reflects upon her last night saying, “That night I celebrated with my wonderful Heshima Kenya girls, but everyone there was crying. I loved them. They loved me, too. Heshima Kenya was my safe place, my home because I was living with family who understood me and I understood them. Through our pain we reached out to each other. Together we began rebuilding our lives.”

Candide is currently living happily in the U.S., while it’s not easy to be in a new place with new people she loves her family here and is looking forward to graduation next year. She states why she feels it’s important to tell her story: “I’m sharing my story with you to show you how much Heshima Kenya has positively impacted my life. Please continue to help other young women who are faced with what appears to be insurmountable challenges and an uncertain future. With Heshima Kenya at their sides, miracles will happen and dreams can come true.”

Thank you again for your support and commitment to Heshima Kenya, which makes it possible for girls like Candide to begin to lead empowered lives. 

Mar 12, 2012

Global Giving Bonus Day- March 14th!

One of our Heshima girls  - happy and safe!
One of our Heshima girls - happy and safe!

It’s time for GlobalGiving’s first Bonus Day of the year! Starting at 12:00 AM EDT on March 14, GlobalGiving will be matching your donation to Heshima Kenya! That’s right - on March 14th only, GlobalGiving will match your donation up to $1,000 per donor at 30%! Please go to the Global Giving website on Wednesday, March 14th to continue to support the Girls Empowerment Project. Or consider a donation to our other project, the Heshima Kenya Safe House. Additionally, Heshima Kenya can earn an extra $1,000 by raising the most funds or having the most donations. Global Giving has a limited amount of matching funds available, so be sure to get your donations in early!

 

Thanks so much for your support and commitment to empowering our Heshima Girls!

 
   

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