The Girl's Empowerment Project
A lot has been going on with our Girl's Empowerment Project – it has been growing in strength with 45 girls and young women being empowered to further their education and become leaders. Just this last month, students participated in Life Skills training on HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination. A visiting HIV/AIDS Officer from the organization, GIZ, led the class with background information about HIV/AIDS figures and statistics, the impact of the disease, HIV prevention, stigma and discrimination.
This topic really captured the girls and women’s imagination and they brainstormed questions to ask the visiting program officer and spoke from their own knowledge and experience of HIV and AIDS. The girls and women were so captivated by the discussion and the issue that they did not take a break from the class but kept learning and discussing from morning until lunch time.
‘I was so happy to see the students so active and asking questions and answering, unlike previous classes they would shy away from certain areas,’ says Fatuma Abdullahi, the Girls’ Empowerment Project Youth Coordinator, ‘even the non-Kiswahili and English were never left out. It was one of a kind training where the participation was very high.’
The success of the Girl’s Empowerment Project is grounded in four transitional components that address the various learning, social, economic, and emotional challenges experienced by unaccompanied refugee girls and young women. It fosters confidence and builds their capacity to respond to their experiences and begin healing, demand their rights, and seek a life of dignity.
The Girl’s Empowerment Project model includes:
- Basic Education
- Life Skills Training and Discussion
- Vocational Training
- Financial Literacy Training and Income Generation
The Maisha Collective is a major component of the Financial Literacy Training and Income Generation section of the Girl’s Empowerment Project. Graduates from the Girl’s Empowerment Project are invited to join the Maisha Collective where they will participate in an intensive tailoring course where they learn the art of creating designs and the technique of ‘tie and dye.’ All scarves are hand-made and use one-of-a-kind designs that are created by the girls and women.
‘It makes me feel happy and proud to know American women are wearing our scarves. To know there are people out there who are listening to our stories and wanting to help makes me very happy,’ says Grace, one of the participants in the Maisha Collective.
In the last month Heshima Kenya has opened an office in the heart of Chicago to further the advocacy and development of Heshima Kenya’s programs and the Maisha Collective. The office is open for our supporters who are interested in finding out more about our work and the issues that has driven many of the girls and women to Nairobi as unaccompanied urban refugees. Heshima Kenya is also using the Chicago office to showcase and sell our line of Maisha scarves produced by the Collective in Nairobi.
To continue supporting The Girl’s Empowerment Project and Heshima Kenya, please make a donation and follow Heshima Kenya on Facebook and Twitter
The Maisha Collective