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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

SAUTI YA WASICHANA (VOICE OF GIRLS) INITIATIVE: AVOIDING FEMALE CUT.

The Response? Although GlobalGiving funds girls’ empowerment activities in Kisumu County, Kenya, the bulk of the donations between August and November 2018 was used to address an emergency in a neighboring County. Among the Kuria Community of Migori County, November and December of every even year is a season for female genital mutilation (FGM). Some parents and family members approve the cut for their girls; others don’t. Some girls want to undergo the cut; others don’t.

NIGEE has been working in Kuria for about four years and has earned trust and acceptance by the community. Between September and October 2018, several schools and parents in Kuria approached us to provide safe accommodation for their girls to avoid being forced to undergo FGM. NIGEE took the challenge and a school away from the center of FGM activities was chosen to serve as the camp for the girls.

What was the turn-up?  A total of 189 girls (78 from primary and 111 from secondary schools) were accommodated at the camp, which run from November 26 to December 21, 2018.

What happened at the camp? Qualified teachers were engaged to teach academic subjects (Secondary School Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology, and Primary School Mathematics, Science and Social Studies). This was followed in the afternoons by mentorship on different topical issues such as girls’ education, child marriage, teen pregnancy, FGM, hygiene, SGBV, child labour, drug and substance abuse, career choice, etc. Late afternoon the girls participated in various games and sports, and between dinner and bed time, they sang, danced and had talent shows.

The camp’s officials (head girl, dormitory prefect, dining hall prefect) and the most disciplined girls were awarded t-shirts from a co-sponsor of the camp.

 

Selected reactions from girls, parents, teachers, religious leaders and County officials:

  • Zawadi [not real name], age 15, was rescued on her way to the cut: “I am very happy to have been rescued from the cut. I promise to work hard in school and achieve all my dreams”.
  • Shakina, age 13, a partial orphan said: “If I went through the cut I would have been forced to drop out of school to be married [off] early which is a very painful thing. I request NIGEE to always assist other girls like me who do not want to undergo the cut then drop out of school to get married and suffer in the marriages”.
  • A widow whose two girls were rescued by NIGEE and the Children’s officer, said: “Being a widow I had no one to assist me but I am grateful my girls were kept safe for four weeks since I had nowhere to take them
  • The Chief Executive Officer of Education, County Government of Migori, was among the mentors who emphasized to the girls the harmful effects of FGM: “….never disappoint NIGEE in their commitment to support girls. Work hard and you can become doctors, lawyers, teachers, and make NIGEE and yourselves proud”.
  • A teacher from one of the local secondary schools commented during a mentorship session: “FGM has led many girls to drop out of school and get married. If you see these girls who were in school just the other day, they are now looking old and suffering. They are just house wives, grazing cattle and begging for assistance. If you want to live a good life it’s only education that can help you.”
  • One of the mentors, a priest from a local church, used the Bible to advise the girls: “According to the Bible, there is no place where FGM was practiced among girls. The practice is against church doctrines and should be abolished. As girls you should put more effort in your studies and thank NIGEE for this opportunity which you got. You are lucky to even have teachers to teach you. If I were you I would work hard, excel, achieve all my dreams and leave Kuria an FGM-free area”.

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The New Girls Empowerment Centre -final phase of 1
The New Girls Empowerment Centre -final phase of 1

During the period September – November 2018 NIGEE Girls empowerment center continued to offer vocational skill training to adolescent girls and young women (AGYW).

  • During this period, NIGEE enrolled 34 new teen mothers into the program; cumulatively we have reached 444 AGYW with skills training since the inception of the program.
  • Currently, there are 10 girls enrolled in computer classes, 25 in hairdressing and 15 in dressmaking class; the rest have completed and are waiting graduation.
  • The porridge program is currently benefitting 15 toddlers (10 who are consistent and 5 who come sporadically); the porridge is served at 10am as the mothers attend classes, which enables the girls to concentrate on their studies while confident that their kids are well taken care of by the Center Matron.
  •  As we approach the completion of the first phase of the new GEC, which we hope to launch in the first quarter of 2019, we anticipate enrolling more girls into the program; the Center will also include an Early Childhood Development space to accommodate children who have attained school-going age and offer them more structured activities in line with the Guidelines by Kenya’s Ministry of Education. We also hope to open up a library where girls who intend to rejoin formal education can study, both in preparation for re-enrollment and for homework while in school.
  • The GEC safe space/hostel continues to offer a temporary safe haven for 13 girls and young women who have been sexually 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.
Classroom doors painted and window glasses fitted
Classroom doors painted and window glasses fitted
The interior section of the classroom painted
The interior section of the classroom painted
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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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Project Leader:
NIGEE Kenya
Kisumu city, Kenya
$69,556 raised of $101,369 goal
 
661 donations
$31,813 to go
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