Divine (left) and a fellow member
In an effort to increase the participant’s self-esteem and practice life skills, the Girls Empowerment Project staff and students recently created an elected Student Council. Members of the council were elected through a democratic process and were selected to represent the four countries, which participants originate- Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Congo. GEP students voted for candidates based on their confidence, achievements in class and critical thinking skills. The Student Council serves as a space where members can feel empowered to participate in the decision making process and functioning of the GEP. Members explore questions regarding the educational process, layout and structure of classes, how they may improve the courses for students, and address any issues that may arise.
Divine came to Heshima Kenya in 2012, she was pregnant and alone after losing her parents to the Rwandan genocide. After fleeing war in Rwanda, Divine and her sister migrated to the DRC – sadly, Divine and her sister were separated and her host parent passed away, prompting Divine to leave for Nairobi. Upon entering Nairobi, Divine was exploited and experienced assault. Finally, a community member referred her to UNHCR, and she was brought to Heshima Kenya.
At Heshima Kenya, she received psychological care for her trauma and was soon enrolled in the Girls’ Empowerment Project, where she began her education. Divine worked hard and excelled in school, quickly progressing and enrolling in our tailoring program. She is currently enrolled in the Maisha Collective, where she is earning an income to support herself and her baby boy. Divine now serves as a positive role model for all of our GEP girls, offering support and kind words. She leads by example, showing the young women they can achieve anything and that they have each other’s support in succeeding. Divine was recently elected to the Student Council, where she has been proudly serving and representing her fellow students. Currently, Divine and the other members are working on creating a fund for the women who need emergency funds, or need loans to start their own businesses.
Divine continues to serve as a leader in education; she recently registered for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Exams (KCSE), the formal test offered by the Kenya Ministry of Education that is required to graduate from high school. Divine is very focused and determined to continue with her education to university level. During an interview, Divine stated: “No matter the terrible circumstances that one goes through in life, just sitting down and jotting down your dream and Making It Happen is the biggest achievement in life. I know that 4 years to come I will be able to complete my University education and get a good job. I want to educate my child and see him reap in future”.
Divine is thrilled with her success and is looking forward to leading and supporting her fellow classmates. Thank you for helping Heshima Kenya. By helping us, we are able to support Divine, her child and many other girls who have similar stories to re-write their future and Make it Happen.