When schools closed in Kenya in March 2020, we wondered how best to support the girls on our Dottie Scholars leadership training and scholarship program who were now at home. In many ways, our support for them was more important that ever, as they and their families tried to navigate the challenges of school closures, economic shut-down, loss of income and all that that entails.
We first worked to keep their education on track. Our team sprung into action to make sure each girl had a device and the airtime they needed to stay engaged with their learning. We reached out to their school teachers to offer support and make sure they would keep every girl engaged.
Secondly, with the planned leadership development activities for the year now in question, we planned weekly group mentoring sessions. These sessions covered a range of themes such as keeping safe at home and online, how to deal with gender based violence, menstrual health and how to manage your time and talent as a young leader.
Here are just a few highlights from the girls themselves:
“This is what I have learned: Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are”. Dangers and benefits of social media and also how to use it properly. Who, how and why I make my choices. I learnt more about reproductive health. I learnt more on ways to manage stress, trauma and anxiety. And I got more aware about Gender based violence. I realized that there a lot of things about life that I don’t know but thanks to you I am aware of some of them now. What I learnt from the sessions and activities we did definitely gave me a new perspective and point of view and introduced me to new techniques." (Sarah)
"I would encourage especially the girls to speak out for themselves and learn that they are never at fault for the violation of their rights for example Rape instances at times they say that the girl is at fault because of how she was dressed before she got raped. But for me it is my duty to educate them that they're not to be blamed and that they should not hesitate to report any case of violation. The sessions that I’ve been having helped me to know that in my future life things will always be changing and that I should always be open minded to adjust more easily to the people around me and the activities that happen around me." (Janet)
"I got to know that I am special in my own way and that I should appreciate what everyone is. My involvement and participation in this has broadened my view of the community and helped me to accept the changes around me, for I now realize change will not always be awful but can be exciting and enjoyable at times. What I would change is the number of people attending the meetings because I know the more the people the more people are influenced positively and assisted in their lives." (Sally)
A special thanks to Dignitas team members Mercy, Alice and Steve who kept these sessions going, and made sure the girls received consistent support. Some of the girls have begun to report back to school, and we look forward to each one getting their education back on track. The support raised through this project made this work possible - thank you for being part of an important solution in such a critical season!