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Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya

by NYANZA INITIATIVE FOR GIRLS' EDUCATION & EMPOWERMENT (NIGEE)
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Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
The Upcoming GEC Site in Kasule, Kisumu, Kenya
The Upcoming GEC Site in Kasule, Kisumu, Kenya

As a teen mother, I couldn’t hide my joy when I visited the upcoming and almost completed Girls Empowerment Centre in Kasule. I still lack words to thank our amazing donors for always believing in us. This is a DREAM come true for us girls living in slums (informal settlements) of Kisumu . ’ ~ Salome –Hairdressing student at NIGEE.

 

NIGEE Girls Empowerment Centre (GEC) continues to enroll more girls for vocational training and linkage to other services, including employment, internship and ‘volunteership’. The demand for the vocational training courses is increasing every day.

The girls and the entire NIGEE fraternity are so delighted to see the building at the finishing stage with roofs, windows, doors and electrical piping completed for the ground floor. We are optimistic that with current giving from donors and individuals we will get the building completed and launched soon.

During the period June – August 2018 NIGEE continued with activities at the current GEC:

  • So far we have reached 410 girls with the skills training since the inception of the program in November 2015. In the period under review, we were able to enroll 17 new teen mothers.
  • Currently, there are 38 girls enrolled in computer classes, 51 girls in hairdressing and 24 girls in the dressmaking class.
  • Our porridge program is doing great and currently 10 toddlers are benefitting from the daily porridge at 10am as their mothers attend classes.  
  • To build girls’ self-esteem and confidence, the GEC continues to provide life skills sessions on a biweekly basis; to this end, the Centre has adopted a life skill training manual for the mentors who act as facilitators.
  • One of our major challenges is space to accommodate the increasing numbers of girls who wants to access the vocational skills training.  The new GEC is part of our strategy to address this increasing number of girls enrolling for courses but are being turned away due to the limited space at the current centre. When completed, the new site will serve approximately 300 girls at once.
  • The GEC safe space/hostel continues to offer a temporary haven for 8 girls and young women who have been exploited or sexually abused and are in immediate danger; we provide ongoing counseling and investigation with a goal of reconciling them with their families.  In addition to counseling, they are linked to appropriate sexual and reproductive health services as their cases are processed.
  • NIGEE is also preparing to host the upcoming GlobalGiving Kenyan Workshop to be held on 28th of September 2018 at NIGEE Headquarters in Milimani, Kisumu. We are looking forward to a productive workshop.

Story:

Click here to watch our success story uploaded on our YouTube channel and Globalgiving page;   https://bit.ly/2Q7tfAa

The 1st Floor finishing of walling at the GEC site
The 1st Floor finishing of walling at the GEC site
The site workers doing final exterior work
The site workers doing final exterior work
Kids enjoying a cup of 10'Oclock porridge at GEC
Kids enjoying a cup of 10'Oclock porridge at GEC
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The New Upcoming GEC Site in Kasule, Kisumu, Kenya
The New Upcoming GEC Site in Kasule, Kisumu, Kenya

"The upcoming Girls’ Empowerment Centre will help reduce the congestion at the current GEC Centre in Tom Mboya by accommodating the day to day increasing number of girls seeking vocational training services." ~ Milka Ofwa, Chair, Girls Steering Committee NIGEE

More girls continue to stream into our Girls’ Empowerment Center (GEC) in Tom Mboya for Vocational training services. The increasing number of girls at the centre inspired us to start the construction of a spacious GEC to accommodate these girls. The construction is yet to be completed at Kasule/Manyatta B, an informal settlement in Kisumu City.

 During the period April –June 2018 NIGEE continued to advance the GEC within Kisumu:

  • So far we have reached 379 girls with the skills training since the inception of the program. In the period under review, we were able to enroll 19 new teen mothers.
  • Currently there are 52 girls enrolled in computer classes, 41 girls in hairdressing and 22 girls in the dressmaking class.
  • Our porridge program is doing great and currently 12 new toddlers are benefitting from the daily porridge at 10am; knowing that their children are being cared for and are close by, our beneficiaries can concentrate on their studies as the children play under supervision.  
  • The GEC safe space continues to offer a temporary haven for girls and young women who have been exploited or sexually abused and are in immediate danger; we provide ongoing counseling and investigation with a goal of reconciling them with their families.  In addition to counseling, they are linked to appropriate sexual and reproductive health services as their cases are processed.
  • To build self-esteem, the GEC continues to provide life skills training on a biweekly basis; to this end, the Centre has developed a life skill training manual for the mentors who act as facilitators.
  • NIGEE is currently fast-tracking the construction of the new GEC as part of our strategy to address the increasing number of girls enrolling for courses given the limited space at the current centre; the new site will serve approximately 300 girls at one go.

 What the GEC Beneficiaries had to say about the upcoming new GEC Centre under Construction:

Many of the girls at the GEC centre could not hide their joy and optimism about the upcoming GEC Centre under construction. The girls who embarked on a tour of the site early last month were delighted of this spacious, modern and girl-friendly safe space that will help accommodate the overwhelming and increasing number of girls seeking vocational skills services.

Below are some of the quotes from the girls;

“The new upcoming Girls Empowerment Centre will help reduce the jam at the current GEC Centre in Tom Mboya by accommodating the day to day increasing number of girls seeking vocational training services.” ~ Milka Ofwa, Chair, Girls Steering Committee NIGEE

“As a beneficiary of the NIGEE GEC I would like to sincerely thank all individual donors under GlobalGiving for believing in us by supporting this course.” ~ Diana, Hairdressing student GEC.

“With the space for Early Childhood Development (ECD) and girls Hostel, I am optimistic that this centre will serve even young mothers like me as our toddlers would be enrolled to the ECD and even be hosted at the Centre.” ~ Quinter, a young mum and Computer student GEC.

“The GEC has really impacted in our life, I feel empowered and happy to meet other girls whom we share the same aspiration, I believe the new GEC will ensure that all girls in Kisumu are empowered as well” ~ Grace, a teen mother and a dressmaking student.

Girls attending practical sessions at the GEC
Girls attending practical sessions at the GEC
Part of the girls during the dressmaking session
Part of the girls during the dressmaking session
Some of the creative bags done by the girls
Some of the creative bags done by the girls
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Quinter with one of her clients at Vera's Saloon
Quinter with one of her clients at Vera's Saloon

 ‘After completing my course and graduating, with support of NIGEE’s Girls Employment Bureau, I was able to get attachment at Vera’s Saloon where I currently earn KES 500 (USD 5) on a good day and I’m happy that I can pay rent, sort out my bills and even support my sibling’s education .’ ~ Quinter

We started the year well and lively with many more beneficiaries streaming into our Girls’ Empowerment Center (GEC) for courses, bringing with them a zeal to all our activities and classes.

During the period January –March 2018 NIGEE continued to advance the GEC within Kisumu:

  • So far we have reached 455 girls with the skills training since the inception of the program. In the period under review, we were able to enroll 95 new girls.
  • Currently there are 42 girls enrolled in computer classes, 35 girls in hairdressing and 18 girls in the dressmaking class.
  • We are delighted to report that 8 of the 18 girls who graduated from dressmaking and design course got a one year business tender to make school uniforms for over 800 girls in a partner’s project in Siaya.
  • Our porridge program is doing great and currently 25 toddlers are benefitting from the daily porridge at 10am; knowing that their children are being cared for and are close by, our beneficiaries can concentrate on their studies as the children play under supervision.  
  • The GEC safe space continues to offer a temporary haven for girls and young women who have been exploited or abused and are in immediate danger; we provide ongoing counseling and investigation with a goal of reconciling them with their families.  In addition to counseling, they are linked to appropriate sexual and reproductive health services as their cases are processed.
  • 30 of the 112 girls who graduated in December 2017 from the centre have been linked to employment within and outside Kisumu town. The girls were first prepared for the job market through CV and cover letter writing and interviewing technique trainings.
  • To build self-esteem, the GEC continues to provide life skills training on a biweekly basis; to this end, the Centre has developed a life skill training manual for the mentors who act as facilitators.
  • The tutors,with the help of theTraining Coordinator,launched a training manual in January 2018 which gives the girls an opportunity to specialize in their area of interest.
  • NIGEE participated in International Day of Women in partnership with other organizations and the County Government of Kisumu; the theme was: Pressing for Progress.
  • 87 young women and adolescents girls were trained on soap making – a skill they now use to produce detergents and sell to earn a living.
  • NIGEE is currently fast-tracking the construction of the new GEC as part of our strategy to address the increasing number of girls enrolling for courses given the limited space at the current centre; the new site will serve approximately 300 girls at one go.

 NIGEE is proud to share a success story of one of our beneficiaries:

Quinter was once a disappointed and hopeless young girl. She dropped out of school when her parents got separated. However, her life gained a new meaning when she was enrolled in the NIGEE’s Girls Empowerment Centre where she undertook a hairdressing course, completing in 2017. She is now a paid intern and is able to provide for her and her siblings’ needs.

Quinter hails from Nyando Sub County in Kisumu County. She used to stay with her parents till the year 2007 when her parents separated and her mother left her and her younger siblings, the last of whom was a toddler, under the care of her father and her step mother.

When her mother left, Quinter was 12 years old and in Primary Grade 4.  Despite the young age, she took over the role of her mother. She would leave school early in order to look for what they would eat, wash her siblings and their clothes. She reports that the father would leave the house in the morning and return back in the evening empty-handed. They would be reminded to look for their mother any time they asked for food.

Despite the struggle and the condition, she managed to sit for her Grade 8 national exams and scored 306 marks out of the possible 500, an equivalent of grade B Plain.  With that, she was qualified to be admitted to a good secondary school; however, her step mother did not want to hear any of that and influenced her father to not support her education.

Luckily, through the intervention of community and well-wishers, she joined secondary school with high hopes of securing and a better future, but this was not to be as the money donated could not sustain her four years in school. She was sent home for fees so many times she ended up dropping out. Her extended family also declined to help: “I remember trying to seek help from my uncles who turned me away, saying my dad was able to afford my fees but my step mother was adamant. I left home disappointed and bitter with everyone, and especially my dad.”

She then decided to move to Sori Beach in Homabay County with the hope of earning a living. At the beach she would wash and sun-dry dagaa (sardine-like) fish for the fishermen and women and earned about KES 4500 (USD 45) a month.   While at the Beach, she learnt about NIGEE Girls Empowerment Centre through a friend: “I learnt about NIGEE’s Girls Empowerment Centre through a friend and I got interested in knowing more so I borrowed a phone from a friend and made a call. I was briefed about the courses and requirements for the registration. I got interested in Hair Dressing and Therapy.”

She saved the little she was earning at the beach to help her register and for her upkeep during the training and was enrolled in 2017. She was one of the best students in her Hairdressing class – a performer both in theory and practical sessions.  She was passionate about what she was doing.

After completing her course and graduating with a certificate in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy, Vera was placed for attachment at a saloon where her performance was exemplary, and they offered her a job at the saloon. She reported earning KES 500 (USD 5) on a good day. She is now an independent woman able to take care of her bills, pay rent and even support her sibling’s education.

Quinter plans to save and start her own hairdressing business by opening her own saloon, with a hope to eventually creating job opportunities for other girls like her.

The 1st Floor walling and formwork at the GEC site
The 1st Floor walling and formwork at the GEC site
The New GEC site under construction.
The New GEC site under construction.
Part of the girls during the hairdressing session
Part of the girls during the hairdressing session
NIGEE school  girls during a mentorship session
NIGEE school girls during a mentorship session
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A beneficiary at the GEC sewing a shopping bag
A beneficiary at the GEC sewing a shopping bag

"Whenever I reflect on my past and what I have gone through, I get motivated to thrive for a better future, a future where I would not depend on someone for help, a future where I can make my own decision, a future where I can pay my own bills, a future where I will not depend on a man to be happy.” Laurine, a student from the tailoring course.

It has been an incredible quarter with many more beneficiaries accessing training at NIGEE’s Girls Empowerment Center (GEC), and bringing with them a vibrancy and sense of value to the Center’s activities and classes. We continue to appreciate and thank our donors who are making this possible.

During the period October to December 2017 NIGEE continued to advance the GEC within Kisumu:

  • So far we have reached 360 girls with the skills training since the inception of the program. In the period under review, we were able to enroll 68 new girls.
  • Currently there are 12 girls enrolled in computer classes, 44 girls in hairdressing and 16 girls in tailoring; we are purchasing two tents to accommodate the large number of girls for hairdressing; another room has been given over to the tailoring class with new sewing machines ordered and more computers have also been added to the lab.
  • In December, a total of 112 girls graduated from vocational training: 27 from hairdressing and beauty therapy course, 18 from dressmaking and design course, and 67 from computer literacy and applications class.
  • Our porridge program is an important part of our activities and currently 15 toddlers are benefitting as they take daily porridge at 10am; knowing that their children are being cared for and are close at hand, our beneficiaries are concentrating on their trainings.  
  • The GEC safe space has continued to provide a temporary haven for girls and young women who have been sexually exploited and are in immediate danger; we provide professional counseling to the survivors who also get mentored by their peers and are linked to appropriate services and nurtured as their cases are processed.
  • The GEC Coordinator and Training Coordinator are working towards expanding our training capacity by engaging additional tutors to cope with the rapid growth in numbers.
  • The GEC continues to provide life skills training to the girls who register for our GEC courses as a form of psychosocial support.  All the girls attend the sessions on a biweekly basis and as a result become confident in sharing their challenges and successes as they build self-esteem.
  • NIGEE participated in 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence campaign. In partnership with other organizations and the County government of Kisumu we had a procession in Kisumu to mark the journey towards ending GBV in Kisumu.
  • The training coordinator participated in an interview with a local vernacular radio station (Radio Dala FM), and focused the 15-minute interview on creating opportunities for girls through mentorship.
  • Our Kuria anti-FGM project is also active, and 8 girls did their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and we are happy to report that all of them attained marks fit for joining secondary school next year.

NIGEE is proud to share a success story of one of our beneficiaries:

Laurine’s story

Laurine is a 23 year old, GEC beneficiary who hails from an informal settlement in Kisumu County. She got married at a tender age of 16.

She recalls the struggle she went through in marriage, and says she can vividly count the number of days she was happy as a woman of the house – which were few and far between.

Laurine’s life took a drastic turn in the year 2002 when her father died and her mother had to remarry. Life with her step father was never easy. The step father never bothered about her schooling. She had to drop out of school as parental support was never there. When things heated up and she could not withstand it anymore, she decided to go and live with her grandmother. Life there had its challenges as well. She later on decided to get married because she thought her life would change for the better.

In her marriage, Laurine got two children. She was happy to have two boys with the man she wanted to spend her entire life with. She never thought their love for each other would fade. As days went by, her husband become abusive, he would beat her up and use vulgar insults to her.  He would constantly tell her to go and get educated like other girls. “My husband would come home in the evening from work empty-handed and whenever I asked him for cash to buy meals he would remind me of how uneducated I was,” said Laurine, recalling her life then. “My sons and I went several nights without meals, even porridge for my two sons was by chance,” she added.

When it was too much for her to bear, she decided to go back to her parents’ home with her children and tried living under the same roof with her step father but it was still not easy so she took her children back to their father and returned to her home alone.

One day, a Field Assistant (FA) from NIGEE went to their home and had a chat with her. The FA took her through some of the programs NIGEE runs. Laurine got interested in joining the GEC and was admitted into dressmaking and design class.

While at the GEC, Laurine’s thirst for education was rejuvenated. She interacted more with fellow young women who come over to coach them on career choice, job seeking strategies, job interviewing skills, and life planning skills. The flashback on her marriage struggles also made her desire to learn to be a self-reliant woman in future. “Whenever I reflect on my past and what I have gone through, I get motivated to thrive for a better future, a future where I would not depend on someone for help, a future where I can make my own decision, a future where I can pay my own bills, a future where I will not depend on a man to be happy,” said Laurine in a somber mood.

The only way for me to realize this dream for the future is through education and that is why I also decided to go back to school,” she added. Laurine registered as a private candidate for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Nyamasaria Adult Learning Centre in Kisumu. Whenever she was not attending her dressmaking and design classes at the GEC, she would be at Nyamasaria for coaching or revising for her exams.  

She took her classes seriously and despite staying out of school for over 7 years, she grasped the subjects pretty quick. She sat for national examinations this year (2017) and scored 286 marks out of the possible 500 marks (pass mark is 250). Laurine hopes to join Secondary School next year (2018) and her dream is to become a celebrated fashion designer in future. NIGEE will support part of her secondary education.

She has also completed her dressmaking and design course and graduated in December (see last photo below). Her apt skills in sewing have earned her customers who mostly send orders for shopping bags. With the ban of plastic bags in Kenya, Laurine has made good fortune from making and selling shopping bags and uses parts of the income to sustain her stay at the GEC and saves part for her secondary school in January 2018.

This is a story of a beneficiary of NIGEE’s GEC who obtained both academic and vocational training certificates and will use the training to earn a living, take care of her children, and pay her own school fees. We are proud of her!

1st NIGEE GEC graduation ceremony
1st NIGEE GEC graduation ceremony
The GEC Construction Site
The GEC Construction Site
Slab and Colums for 1st floor now done
Slab and Colums for 1st floor now done
Hairdressing practical sessions at GEC
Hairdressing practical sessions at GEC
Computer Class session in progress
Computer Class session in progress
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Girls Steering Committee members at SHOFCO
Girls Steering Committee members at SHOFCO

“I truly learnt much from our exchange visit at the Kibera School for Girls under Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) in Kibera Slums in Nairobi. I was impressed of the community based programs run by the organization, some of which we can adopt into our programming. As Girls steering Committee we are going to establish a Girl-led Safe Spaces in the 3 major slums in Kisumu to curb the increasing number of Sexual and Gender Based Violence cases in the region according to recently released statistics.” Milka Ofwa, Chair-Girls Steering Committee.

During the period of June-September 2017 NIGEE have had the following activities:

  • So far we have reached 305 girls at the GEC (90 girls - computer classes, 155 girls - hairdressing and 60 girls - tailoring) with the skills training since the inception of the program.
  • During this period, we were able to enroll 100 new girls. Presently, 276 girls (41 – computer classes, 158 – hairdressing and 27 – tailoring) are undergoing vocational training at GEC; 49 have completed training.
  • As part of enhancing our Girl-led programming, the members of the Girls Steering Committee (GSC) participated in a 2 day exchange visit at Kiberia School for Girls under SHOFCO, a local organization located in Kibera Slums, Nairobi. The visit was aimed at providing a platform for the girls to benchmark and borrow a leaf that would help inform our girl-led programming. The GSC members are in the process of developing the new five year girl-led strategic plan (2018-2022).
  • Construction of our Girls Empowerment Centre which commenced in June is ongoing and the ground floor is almost complete. We still believe that once the building is completed will touch the lives of hundreds of teen mothers with their children each year by preparing them to continue with their education before transitioning them to regular schools.
  • In our Kuria anti-FGM project the field coordinator visited all the 16 schools where the 60 FGM survivor’s beneficiaries are studying to check if all the students are in school and are continuing with their education. Follow up on their school attendance register and performance for all girls has been done on a regular basis to assist in case they experience challenges.

The girls’ experience at SHOFCO exchange Visit and their planned programs:

Looking at their faces, one could realize the magnitude of joy. The visit surely meant a lot to the members of girls’ steering committee. Being the first beneficiaries of the NIGEE education scholarship and empowerment through the girls empowerment centre (GEC), the girls had vowed to empower and mentor their peers. As part of realizing their desired goal, they proposed to visit the Kiberia School for girls as part of the benchmarking and learning process. The visit was dubbed “Empowered girls, Empower girls”. From the visit, the girls’ steering committee had the following experiences to share about what they learnt and some of the activities that they will adopt into their programs through a well scripted strategy plan which they are currently working on.

The visit to Nairobi took place from September 21-22, 2017 and 10 members of the girls’ steering committee represented NIGEE. The girls were taken through different programs’ components and they later visited project sites. The girls were impressed by the best practises and holistic approach used by the organization in their programming. Sharing their experiences after the trip the girls had the following to say;

“It was a great experience at SHOFCO, personally I was impressed by what I saw over there. As girls steering committee member I think we can establish a childcare and early childhood development and education (ECDE) centre at GEC and within the NIGEE bridge centres. This will host toddlers of the young women attending classes at our centre and nearby formal schools.” Lucy Masika, Girls Steering Committee member.

There is a great demand for Childcare and ECDE centre at the GEC to accommodate and provide a safe place for the children of the teen mothers undertaking vocational training in hairdressing, dressmaking and computer studies at the GEC and to those already linked to formal schools. So far the centre host over 20 young women and their kids.

While sharing her experience after the visit, Milka Ofwa alluded that the visit is an eye opener to them and they are planning to fast-track the strengthening of the sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) prevention and recovering mechanism in major slums in Kisumu City to help mitigate the increasing cases of SGBV cases in the area. “I truly learnt much from our exchange visit at Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) in Kibera Slums in Nairobi. I was really impressed with their community based SGBV prevention and response program ran by community volunteers, some of which we can replicate in our program areas. As Girls steering Committee we are going to establish Girl-led Safe Spaces in the 3 major slums in Kisumu to curb the increasing number of Sexual and Gender Based Violence cases in the region according to recently released statistics.” Milka Ofwa, Chair-Girls Steering Committee.

NIGEE seek to establish a Girl-Led safe spaces in Obunga, Manyatta and Nyalenda slums. Already NIGEE has bridge centres in the mentioned slums which serve as a transition hub for young teen mothers who would like to resume formal learning.  

The girls’ steering committee members have unanimously decided that they are going to establish a Girl-led safe spaces in the slums of Kisumu, strength the SGBV referral path, establish a child care and ECDE Centre at the GEC.

GSC members inside the ECDE class
GSC members inside the ECDE class
The GEC under construction
The GEC under construction
Girls Steering Committee members inside Childcare
Girls Steering Committee members inside Childcare
Women supporting construction of GEC
Women supporting construction of GEC
Girls doing their dressmaking practical session
Girls doing their dressmaking practical session
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NIGEE Kenya
Kisumu city, Kenya
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