Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu

by The Rahul Kotak Foundation
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Empower & Educate the Girls of Rural Kisumu
Girls Empowered!
Girls Empowered!

Dear Donor,

Thank you so much for your continued support to our project! In our last report we shared with you some powerful stories that have come from the beneficiaries of this program over the past year. We also shared a brief update about the work we have begun in Seme Sub-County, something that we dive into deeply in this report. We also share a story of Janet, a parent whose daughters have attended our Girls Empowerment workshops and an update from our Meals Program and Greatnonprofits.

Working in Seme

At the height of the pandemic, Seme Sub-County saw a rise in teenage pregnancies and early marriages, a problem that has been present for many years. At the invitation of the Directorate of Child Services, our team was able to carry out a pilot program with 55 young girls from 10 different schools that included Nyarombo, Lunga, Bishop Abiero Girls Magwar, Orando Secondary, Mbeka, Magwar, Bishop Okoth Miranga and Kamagore Primary Schools.

Our incredible speakers and volunteers travelled to Holo to set up camp at Magwar Primary School where the girls attended our workshops with their mothers or female guardians. The girls boarding at Bishop Abiero School were accompanied by a teacher instead. All the girls attending the workshop received a Sanitary Kit that will last them for 12-18 months. Each kit contained re-usable sanitary pads, panties, toilet paper, soap and a bucket together with a GirlTalk booklet.

They also received intensive menstrual health and hygiene training along with their mothers/ female guardians that brought up some very interesting discussions. The sharing circles that were created also led to some powerful story sharing in which we discussed the importance of breaking the taboo around menstruation and empowering our girls so that they can achieve the goals they set out.

After serious discussions during the workshops, we arranged for students to have some fun and jump on a Bouncy Castle; you’re never too old to jump on a bouncy castle. Some teachers and parents also joined in on the fun!!

An additional 120 girls have been supported by this program this year, details of which we will share in our next report.

Janet’s Story

Janet is a mother of three young girls. She is the sole breadwinner in her family and earns a living by selling fruit. When we recently spoke to her about the program, she shared with us how powerful she found the workshops and how she appreciated the content we covered in them while she attended with her two oldest daughters. She also shared how access to the re-usable pads led to generating some savings for her. Before we left, she said she can’t wait to attend the workshop again with her youngest daughter soon.

Meals Program

Since April 2022, we have served nearly 102,000 meals through the School Meals Program and Meal Kits for families. This has been our main focus amidst rising food and fuel prices in Kenya and through the prolonged election period a couple of months ago. Many parents have reported that it has been really challenging to feed their families within budget with many resorting to skipping meals to make ends meet.

Through your generous support, our team has continued to prioritize this program to help students and their families with this basic need. Students continue to receive two hot meals while at school on a daily basis while families continue to receive meal kits with a variety of food items that will last them nearly two weeks.

Upcoming KCPE

On 28th November, candidates from Grade 3 & 6 will sit for the pioneer CBC (Competency Based Curriculum) exams in Kenya while students from Grade 8 and Form 4 will sit for their KCPE and KCSE exams respectively. This is the first since the pandemic that examinations in Kenya are taking place in November and December in the hope of going back to a typical January-to-December academic year in 2023.

Team RKF will be supporting many vulnerable candidates with important stationery for them to be able to do their exams. We wish all the candidates nothing but the best as they reach this key milestone in their academic journeys.

Great Nonprofits

Team RKF is delighted to share that we have been a Top Rated Non-Profit for the SIXTH year in a row!

The Great Nonprofits badge is one of the most trusted rating seals for donors and we are grateful for everyone who shared their stories that helped us in getting this badge.

Giving Tuesday

Mark your calendars! Less than a week left until Giving Tuesday!

With $1.2 Million USD in incentive funds available from GlobalGiving RKF needs YOUR support in providing school children with healthy, square meals of lunch and breakfast. You can help us make education more accessible to children living in marginalized communities. Help us #MoveAMillion on Tuesday, November 29.

Sharing Circles at Magwar Primary
Sharing Circles at Magwar Primary
Christine, one of our speakers
Christine, one of our speakers
A workshop in progress
A workshop in progress
More girls empowered!!
More girls empowered!!
Time for some fun on the Bouncy Castle!
Time for some fun on the Bouncy Castle!
School Meals Program
School Meals Program
Badge from Great Non Profits
Badge from Great Non Profits
A few days to GivingTuesday!
A few days to GivingTuesday!

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From Alendu Community
From Alendu Community

Dear Donor,

Thank you so much for your continued support to this project! In our last couple of reports, we had shared with you about the workshops we had carried out during International Women’s Week and the incredible milestone of having raised $15,000 on this project over the past four years.

In this report, we bring to you incredible stories of the young girls and women whose academic journeys and lives have been touched by your generosity. We also share with you about the recent work we have begun in Seme Sub County.

We also want to highlight that for this project to continue creating ripples in marginalized communities this year, we need to raise another $13,410. Will you help us reach this target? Will you consider making a donation? Or sharing this report with your friends and family?

“Stories have the power to create social change and inspire community.” – Terry Tempest Williams

We bring to you some of the powerful stories that came about as a result of the workshops we have done since the start of the pandemic:

Crispine:

Crispine is a student who received re-usable sanitary pads through this program and has been using them for quite a few months. They help her attend school regularly. She shared with us that now that her mom doesn’t have to buy sanitary pads for her every month, she uses the money to save for her school fees. 

"My mom cooks chapati to make an income and I come from a family of 10 children - 5 girls and 5 boys. My father favours the boys and gets them whatever they want but if I ask him for things, he says there’s no money. He would rather use it to pay school fees for the boys. It’s my mom who takes care of us (the girls). I want to become a doctor so I can take care of my family in the future. I would like them to be in a better place.

When I have children in the future, I will treat them equally because I don't want them to face the same inequality I did just because I was a girl. I also want to encourage girls that face the same difficulties as me and let them know that education is very important and to never lose hope!"

Rihanna and Melvin

Rihanna was 16 years old at the time she attended the Girls Empowerment workshop at RKF (The Rahul Kotak Foundation) with her sister. Nine months after that workshop, we caught up with her and got to hear about her experience of attending it:

“I want to appreciate you guys for teaching us important things. I learnt that I have the power to say NO and make the right decisions for myself. The workshop helped me open up to my mum. We now sit down to “piga stories” (tell stories) and whenever there’s something going on, I share it with her and get advice!”

Melvin, on the right is Rihanna’s sister who also attended the workshop and received re-usable pads so that she could continue her education with ease. She recently shared with us that she passed her KCPE exams and joined Secondary School! This brought so much joy to our team because that is precisely why this program exists. We strengthened this program during the pandemic when teenage pregnancies had risen dramatically and girls were left with no choice but to stop their education. Melvin’s story fills us with hope and joy!

Shaloam and Shammah

Hellen is Shammah and Shaloam’s mum. Last year, she attended our Girls Empowerment workshop with Shaloam, who received a sanitary pads kit with menstrual health and hygiene training. At the end of that workshop, Shaloam made a promise to us that she would finish school and make herself proud. And she kept that promise!! She recently completed her primary school education and recently enrolled into Secondary School!

This year, Hellen returned with her younger daughter, Shammah. When we asked her about her experience of attending the workshop, she excitedly share this with us: “I loved the workshop! It made me very happy because it taught me about how I can take care of my daughters and how to stay safe! We also learn about how to look after our bodies. Thank you!”

This story highlights the breadth, depth and ripple effects of our Girls Empowerment program: not only do we have an amazing mum who feels empowered to keep supporting her girls through their education, she also knows the importance of prioritizing their (including her own) overall well-being. In Shaloam and Shammah, we have brilliant young women who are setting an example for girls in their schools and communities about the importance of completing their education.

As team RKF, we feel blessed to watch these incredible stories unfold. To many more such stories.

Teacher Emily for Alendu Girls

Teacher Emily from Alendu Primary School closely works with the girls in her school. She attended the Girls Empowerment workshops during which she shared with us one of her concerns.

“One of the biggest and most common challenge that mothers and daughters face is lack of conversation which hinders them from having a relationship amongst themselves.”

During the RKF workshops, she saw mothers from her community get up and share their experience of getting their first period and the challenges they faced in that moment. Listening to their mothers speak, many daughters could relate and in turn open up about some of the challenges they currently face.

As the sessions came to an end, Teacher Emily told our team: “Thank you so much for your efforts in empowering both the girls and their mothers. You made them see the gaps they've been leaving out. That is really important.”

Seme Sub-County

At the height of the pandemic, Seme saw a rise in teenage pregnancies and early marriages, a problem they have had for many years. At the invitation of the Directorate of Child Services, our team was able to carry out a pilot program with young girls from 10 different schools in Seme Sub County in June 2022 on the occasion of the Day of the African Child. Our team provided 55 girls and their mothers/female guardians with intensive menstrual health and hygiene training through our Girls Empowerment workshops. The girls also each received a Sanitary Kit that will last them for 12-18 months. And to the surprise of these young girls, we also arranged for them to have some fun and jump on a Bouncy Castle. Much more on this will be shared in our next report.

Ecological Aspect of the Program

Apart from empowering girls with sanitary pad kits and supporting them with menstrual health and hygiene knowledge, our Girls Empowerment project also addresses the ecological footprint left behind by disposable sanitary pads.

According to a report by Menstrual Health Alliance India, one disposable pad takes between 500-800 years to decompose. By offering reusable sanitary pads, our project has reduced the use of nearly 179,390 disposable pads over the past four years!!

Rihanna and Melvin
Rihanna and Melvin
Shaloam and Shammah
Shaloam and Shammah
Seme Sub-County
Seme Sub-County
From a workshop at Magwar Primary
From a workshop at Magwar Primary
Time to Jump!
Time to Jump!

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Woohoo!! WE did it!!
Woohoo!! WE did it!!

WE = you + RKF through GlobalGiving

WE did it!! Our Girls Empowerment project hit its first major milestone of US$15,000 a few weeks ago and we are elated to have reached this goal. 

In a few days, we will be sharing five powerful stories from this project that continue to inspire us to keep doing this work. We hope they will continue to inspire you to keep giving to support this work.

Where did we start? And how far have we come?

As we had shared in our previous report, when we started this program in 2018, we were responding to a worrying trend of highly skewed girl:boy ratios we saw in some of our rural schools. Girls were dropping out of primary school after they started their periods because they didn’t have access to sanitary pads. This is the first time we saw the devastating impact of period poverty. So we started making sure girls had access to pads.

We started with the girls of Soko Primary School in Nyakach in January 2018: See our first ever report here. During our first ever workshop, we supported 29 girls with re-usable pads and we have come a long way since.

In the past four years, this program has evolved into something that not only equips girls with eco-friendly sanitary kits that keeps them on their academic journey, but also empowers them through knowledge on menstrual health management, body positivity and self-belief. Plus, it also includes their mothers and guardians as a part of the dialogue we co-create as a community to end the taboo and stigma around this topic.

The US$15,000 we have raised on this project so far was used to support 814 girls and 499 mothers to date. That is a total of 1,304 direct beneficiaries of the project. Its ripple effects go far and beyond.

In 2018 and 2019 (pre-pandemic) we supported 330 girls with re-usable sanitary kits and basic menstural health and hygiene talks. Most of these activities took place at school and were focussed in Dunga, Nyalenda and Nyamasaria. In 2019, we also held a special screening of the movie Queen of Katwe at St. Vitalis Nang'a Primary (we've shared a throwback photo below)

Since 2020, this program evolved into much more as a result of the rise in teenage pregnancies during the pandemic. We have supported 490 girls and 479 mothers (a total of 969 direct beneficiaries) with the following:

  • each girl received a sanitary pads kit that lasts them between 12-18 months; each kit contains a bucket, a re-usable pads kit, soap, toilet paper and panties
  • each mother/guardian received food support during the pandemic; the rations supplied served ~15,175 meals
  • both the girls and mothers received invaluable training on menstrual health and hygiene management

Other than ensuring girls have a sanitary kit to use during their monthly periods, this program also addresses the ecological footprint left behind by disposable sanitary pads. According to a report by Menstrual Health Alliance India, one disposable pad takes between 500-800 years to decompose. By offering re-usable sanitary pads, this project has reduced the use of nearly 179,390 disposable pads over the past four years!!

What Next

As we had shared with you during our International Women's Day Campaign earlier this month, we are hoping to reach a total of 2,022 girls this year: 1,011 girls + 1,011 mums in the year 2022. Will you help us get to this goal?

So far we have reached 129 girls and 118 mothers in 2022 and we are hoping to ramp up activites in early May as schools reopen or a new academic year. 

For that we need at least another US$15,000 to provide each girl and mum with the necessary menstrual health and hygiene training, basic sex education and body postiivity talks. Each girl will also receive a Sanitary Pad kit that contains reusable pads, soap, panties and toilet paper that will last them for the next 12-18 months. Each mum will receive a small food pack to keep supporting her daughter while she is in school.

For this reason, we have extended our Project Goal to US$30,000. Will you help us reach this goal by making a donation of $250? If you would like to make a smaller donation, please do during our upcoming Little by Little Matching Campaign.

Little by Little Matching Camapaign

As you probably know by now, the Litttle by Little Matching Campaign is our absolute favourite campaign of the year. 

From April 4-8, when you give up to $50 to support girls from marginalized communities, GlobalGiving will match your generosity at 50% for the LittleByLittle campaign. 

Help us spread the word: share this campaign with your family and friends to let them know that BIG change can come from little acts of kindness! 

From the program pilot at Soko Primary in Jan 2018
From the program pilot at Soko Primary in Jan 2018
Supporting the girls of Kenyan Kids in July 2018
Supporting the girls of Kenyan Kids in July 2018
From Nang'a Primary in 2019
From Nang'a Primary in 2019
Re-usable pads and Girl Talk booklets
Re-usable pads and Girl Talk booklets
Watching Queen of Katwe!
Watching Queen of Katwe!
From Lutheran Special School in 2019
From Lutheran Special School in 2019
From Light of Hope in 2019
From Light of Hope in 2019
Beneficiary from workshops during the pandemic
Beneficiary from workshops during the pandemic
Socially distanced workshops
Socially distanced workshops
Creating a Circle of Power
Creating a Circle of Power
Future President, Latifah
Future President, Latifah
An important dialogue between mums and daughters
An important dialogue between mums and daughters
Girl Power!!
Girl Power!!
Little by Little Matching Campaign
Little by Little Matching Campaign

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Our trainer Christine during the IWD 2022 workshop
Our trainer Christine during the IWD 2022 workshop

Dear Donor, 

Thank you so much for your continued support to our Girl Empowerment Project! 

In our last report we had shared with you a powerful story from Teacher Anne of Central Primary School and our plans for the rest of 2021. In this report, we share with you our reflections from what we were able to achieve last year with your support and what we hope our 2022 journey will look like. We also share a powerful story by our speaker Edna, share some photos from IWD 2022 workshops and a brief update from our COVID Relief Project.

Reflecting on 2021

Nothing like a new year to do a little bit of reflection and set some new intentions. Today, we’re taking a minute to look at the work we did with our Sanitary Pads Program in 2021.

When we started this program in 2018, we were responding to a worrying trend of highly skewed girl:boy ratios we saw in some of our rural schools. Girls were dropping out of primary school after they started their periods because they didn’t have access to sanitary pads. So we started making sure girls had access to pads.

In the past four years, this program has evolved into something that not only equips girls with eco-friendly sanitary kits that keeps them on their academic journey, but also empowers them through knowledge on menstrual health management, body positivity and self-belief. Plus, it also includes their mothers and guardians as a part of the dialogue we co-create as a community to end the taboo and stigma around this topic.

In 2021, we were able to reach a total of 267 girls and 265 mothers/guardians across Kisumu County. That is 532 empowered girls and women! Woohoo!! This year, we are hoping to reach 1,011 girls and their mothers in Kisumu County, and for that we need your support.

International Women's Day: Starting 2022 workshops

Happy International Women’s Day!!

Team RKF is honouring all the women around the world who have raised their voices for educating our girls to create a sustainable tomorrow. This quote by Michelle Obama says everything we believe:

“Investing in girls' education is the very best thing we can do, not just for our daughters and granddaughters, but for their families, their communities, and their countries.”

All through March 2022, RKF will be working with girls and women in Kisumu County to educate them on the importance of menstrual health and hygiene, body positivity and the importance of continuing on their education journey. We will also be providing girls with Sanitary Kits that will help girls in rural Kisumu stay in school when they are menstruating. Detailed reports from the workshops will be shared here in the coming weeks.

You can support our work by sharing this message or making a donation of KES 5,500 or US$50 to support five girls in the month of March.

Donate online by clicking here: I will support 5 girls this year

A Story from our Speaker

Our amazing speaker Edna shared with us her experience of being a part of the Menstrual Health and Hygiene workshops last year. She spoke during 5 sessions where she empowered 28 girls and moms.

“Being a speaker during the workshops was an eye opener for me. It presented me with a platform where I was able to meet the girls from my community and talk to them about things I was never told as a girl; things that were considered a taboo to talk about some years back. The Rahul Kotak Foundation is here playing the role of our mothers and educating our girls about menstrual hygiene.

I got to learn about the different challenges (different kinds of body pains) that women go through during their periods. It was also my first time interacting with the reusable sanitary towels which I have come to love to date. Thank you for the opportunity.”

COVID Relief Update – January

Joshua, a beneficiary of the food packs said, “This program has been empowering those that have been a part of it. Not having food puts many of my community members at a disadvantage because children can’t learn with an empty stomach and we can’t go on about our day without food either.”

Like Joshua and his family, 1,340 families have received food packs that have made a big difference in their day to day lives. Additionally through this program, 407 at-risk teenage girls have each received a sanitary kit and a menstrual health & hygiene talk. 3,346 students have also received an education pack with textbooks relevant to their respective classes, an exercise book and stationery for revision.

With rising inflation and food prices, many families continue to struggle in this time. Your donation can support a family of five people for two weeks.

GlobalGiving Badges

Team RKF has been recognized by GlobalGiving yet again and we have received all six badges for 2022. We are grateful for your continued support and we hope to continue doing this work as long as it is needed.

Young girls and their mums listening keenly
Young girls and their mums listening keenly
From IWD 2022 Workshop
From IWD 2022 Workshop
Reflecting on 2021
Reflecting on 2021
Edna during a 2021 workshop
Edna during a 2021 workshop
COVID Relief Update: January 2022
COVID Relief Update: January 2022
Happy International Women's Day 2022
Happy International Women's Day 2022
GG Badges 2022 awarded to RKF
GG Badges 2022 awarded to RKF

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Teacher Anne during workshops
Teacher Anne during workshops

To the future…

“Why should women be quiet and feel ashamed to talk about their bodies and the changes and challenges they face? It’s high time we start empowering our young girls. We can’t be the generation that still has to carry the stigmas and taboos that our grandmothers did.” 

These powerful words came from Teacher Anne during a recent workshop where girls and mums shared their challenging experiences about menstrual health.

Speaker Appreciation

These seven superstars carried out 43 Menstrual Health and Hygiene workshops over a span of two months, to the 177 girls and their mothers (a total of 354 beneficiaries). They did this despite the extremely difficult conditions posed by the pandemic during the months of June and July when Kisumu was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

We have nothing but deep gratitude and appreciation for these women for stepping up and using their voices to empower the next generation of women… to many more empowering workshops like these!

From left to right: Christine, Urvi, Zanela, Muskan, Claire, Millicent and Ednah

Q4 Plans

As the year is coming to an end, we are hoping to reach out to the girls of Dunga, some of whom received kits last year. As the kits were only meant to last 12-18 months, we are hoping to provide them with new kits so that they can continue with their education as they near their National KCPE exams. We will also introduce this program to new students in the Dunga community and when we do, we will share an update with photographs from these upcoming workshops here on GlobalGiving.

The Impact on Environment

Did you know that it could take anywhere between 500-800 years for a disposable sanitary napkin to decompose? The environment footprint of regular disposable pads is very high and can pose serious hazards to our planet. Through our Sanitary Pads Program, we tackle the challenge of girl child absenteeism, period poverty and gender inequality while taking care of our planet. All girls who receive Sanitary kits get a pack of reusable pads that last them between 12-18 months. It also means, 42,200 less disposable pads will be used by the girls who received kits from RKF in 2021!

An Update from Our COVID Relief Project

In the month of October, an additional 16,430 meals were served through 85 new food packs to families in different communities within Kisumu County. In total, 4,537 families (12,360 beneficiaries) have so far received 192,369 meals since the start of our relief program! As the new cases of COVID-19 in Kenya are lower than the 2% positivity rate and with the easing of restrictions, our team has now started re-introducing on-site school meals. We hope to share an update on this in the coming months.

You can read the reports from our COVID Relief Project in the link below.

An Update from Our Environment Project

"If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.“ – David Sobel

With our first official environment workshop, we tried to do just that! During the 3 hours that the students were in the mini botanical garden, we had a discussion where everyone was a part of the conversation about our earth and different ways in which we can show it some love. Many young students chimed in with: “plant trees”, “throw garbage in the dustbin”, “don’t pollute the water” among other suggestions.

Learn more about the work we do in the Environment Space here:

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/environment-in-education-planting-100-000-trees/reports/?subid=179776

Giving Tuesday 2021

#GivingTuesday is only 19 days away! This year, GivingTuesday will be on 30th November 2021.

We need your help to reach our goal of raising $10,000 in support of the various communities we serve in Kisumu County—and with GlobalGiving’s incentive fund, the more you give, the larger share The Rahul Kotak Foundation (RKF) receives out of the $1 million USD in bonus funds available! 

If we reach our goal this year, RKF will be able to reach nearly 4,000 students with a daily school meals program and build 2 brand new libraries... but we can’t do it without you. 

Mark your calendars to #MoveAMillion: it’s almost time to help RKF!

Our Superstar Speakers!
Our Superstar Speakers!
A young beneficiary of our program
A young beneficiary of our program
A mum who attended our Menstrual Hygiene Workshop
A mum who attended our Menstrual Hygiene Workshop
Empowered Women Empower Women
Empowered Women Empower Women
A Sneak Peak from our Environment Workshop
A Sneak Peak from our Environment Workshop
Check out our Environment Project Report!
Check out our Environment Project Report!
An update from our COVID Relief Work in October
An update from our COVID Relief Work in October
GivingTuesday is on 30th November 2021! Get Ready!
GivingTuesday is on 30th November 2021! Get Ready!

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Organization Information

The Rahul Kotak Foundation

Location: Kisumu, Kisumu County - Kenya
Website:
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Twitter: @TheRKFoundation
Project Leader:
Mansi Kotak
Kisumu, Kisumu County Kenya
$17,466 raised of $30,000 goal
 
241 donations
$12,534 to go
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