Every child should have a right to an education!
Who knows what kind of abilities these children poses, who knows what adults they could grow up to be and what they could achieve. The problem is, if you leave them uneducated, they cannot better themselves and will often fall to crime. What if, one of these kids has the potential to come up with a bit of technology that changes the course of humanity?
The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination results were released in March, 2014 and our 10 students did fairly well that we will be required to continue their support to colleges. For the two who did not get good grades, we are going through counseling processes to ensure that they do not stop dreaming on what they would want to achieve. We had 3 students who sat for the end of their primary education who later joined high schools later in February and are now settled. The 10 students who finished high school are currently undertaking basic computer skills that are being taught by a beneficiary of the sponsorship program who finished University after taking Physics and Mathematics as an undergraduate.
When Nasieku (Not her real name) started having her monthly periods, her world shattered. Her teacher had taught them about menstruation but she viewed it as punishment. Nasieku felt responsible; the young girl could not talk to her family about menstruation because of the culture of silence surrounding the issue. One day as she sat in class her classmate discovered her tearing pages out of her exercise books and sitting directly on it to absorb the blood. The teacher was no better than the students as she questioned why she was being an embarrassment to women like this. It is a taboo for a school girl to go on her periods, it means something is wrong with her or she has been naughty. Nasieku describes it an embarrassing, degrading, disillusioning and disempowering experience. “It’s the time I realized that womanhood is a BURDEN!” Nasieku says. Menstruation is a subject which has led many girls and women to be disempowered.
As MCFpanairobi we have taken it upon ourselves to see how best we can address this situation and from a donation of 5,000 Euros, we were able to buy re-usable sanitary towels. These re-usable sanitary towels last for a year and we have been able to distribute over 800 pieces around the country in the 70 schools that we work with. While distributing the sanitary towels, one thing was made clear; sanitary towels have to come with inner wears! Most girls especially in the North part of Kenya do not have inner wears which is key in the use of sanitary towels.
The idea behind the re-usable sanitary towels project is the establishment of a social enterprise for the production of re-usable sanitary towels run by single mothers in Mathare. This will be determined mostly by the feedback that we will get from the girls using them.
We currently have 26 teenage mothers after we got one year funding from an Austrian donor, DKA to run the project. 17 teen mothers are undertaking a course in hairdressing which we are in partnership with Mathare Youth Polytechnic while 7 are undertaking a course in tailoring. They are also offered life skills training in different areas of concern that they identify especially on nutrition, reproductive health and parenting. We also offer them a meal a day for both the mother and the child, counseling services and medical care. We continue to have some challenges but recently 2 teen mothers graduated from the hairdressing training and were immediately employed meaning they can now meet their needs and those of their children. The tailoring department also is able to generate some income for the project after we started making uniforms for different clients and schools nearby. These clients include some diplomatic core within Nairobi.
In partnership with WRAP (Women Rights Awareness Program) our teenage mothers are also benefiting from the food basket that they get once every month.
Our strategic plan for the next 3 years, 2014-2017 is now ready. It captures our vision, mission and objectives for the various programs that we are undertaking. We hope to attract funding soon to be able to implement the programs. (Please send an email if you would like to get the strategy)
Thank you for your continued support. It truly is changing the lives of children and young mothers!