In a theatre in Babadogo 10 girls from all over Nairobi are meeting up to learn how they can prepare for the challenges they will be facing later in life. Mary was chosen to be a part of the Braintrust program as a volunteer from the Kib-era girl Guide Centre. All the girls participating in the program are representing different girl groups from all around the city in the sun. Eliza-beth Okinda, one of the assistants in the program can mention some: Binti Pamoja, Kwen Serious and Heshima Kanya are some of the girl groups.
A great network . Susan Adhiambo is one of the main coordinators working with the Braintrust program. - The main purpose of Braintrust is giving the girls knowl-edge they wouldn`t get elsewhere, in their schools for example, she explains. – This program is a result of a great working network, Susan contin-ues and can mention the Nike foundation to be one of the head funders, supporting their project. - Normally we would be three times as many girls here today and our great goal is to eventually reach out to two million girls, with the growth of the program the coming years.
Learning to believe in themselves. Each of the girl groups taking part in Braintrust will be attending for a period of six months, meeting with their coordinators two Saturdays each month. - During these sessions we learn a lot. Among the topics our coordinators teach us I can mention financial education, the reproductive system and life skills, Mary explains. - The life skills is a big one covering thing such as communicative skills, assertiveness and having confidence in yourself. After the six months period is over the girls will have an exam to make sure they are worthy of the Braintrust certificate. - This certificate will open many doors for me, with it it will be easier to get into college and later getting a good job, I really hope I will pass.
The leaders of tomorrow
You might think that living in Nairobi`s second biggest slum reserves you from a life of sexual knowledge, personal hygiene and HIV prevention. One might even think that people living in the slum lack of interest in these subjects. In that case, these girls can prove you wrong.
During the past twelve weeks they have gained great amounts of knowledge, knowledge they never thought they would possess.
Two curious girls. Jacinter Adhiambo and Eddah Awino were designated as the two girls who had stood out the most, as interested students with dedication and willingness to learn. After having a talk with these young ladies about their experiences with Mrembo, and what they had learned, there was not a question to that designation. - For girls, especially us lining in the slum it is very hard to know how to handle many things. Kidnappings occur often in the slum, we even have to be careful just going to school, Eddah tells me. - Mrembo has thought us how to han-dle issues like dangerous men, rape cases and pregnancy. How the mother should handle all the stages of the pregnancy process, Jacinter compliments.
An uncomfortable topic. An important part of the Mrembo program is teaching the girls about their menstruation. What it is and how to handle it. A big problem for girls in the slum is that they don`t learn about this anywhere, therefore thinks something might be wrong with them, doesn`t tell anyone and skip school for the period. If a girl stays away from school every time she is menstruating, she will lose a lot of teaching in a year.
Women Win Impressed Over VAP and Mrembo
An important Visitor. To the graduation VAP brought especially one very important visitor. Clementine Klijberg, the resource mobilization direc-tor for Women Win. Women Win is a great Dutch organization fighting for women’s rights. Throughout the world you find plenty of non-profit organizations, Women Win targets the ones using sport to teach young girls about their rights, just like the Mrembo program does. - I am especially impressed with Mrembo`s curriculum. At our organization we work to build up the capacities of the organiza-tion we fund and co-operate with. Now we can bring the Mrembo curriculum to other organizations as a good example of how their programs can be run, Clementine says. She also agrees with Moses, the head teacher of Graham secon-dary school. – Mrembo has done a lot, and there is still a lot for the organization to be done.
A grand Graduation. - This has been a really nice graduation, Clementine can gladly ascertain. – Many, many girls were attending and they all looked really happy. I also found the com-ments of their male teacher very motivating, nice to hear a man`s view on a pro-gram like this. The teacher took the girls through all of the learning objectives on the certificate, making sure every girl knew the importance of every point.
Potential funder. After seeing the good work of the Mrembo program and VAP in general, Clementine hopes to assist the Mrembo program in searching for new funding within the Dutch government.
Some of the girls got the honor of receiving their certificate from Clementine Klijberg, Women Win.
talk to their parents about this, especially if they are a little bit shy, Eddah thinks. Every month, the girls are given pads and sanitary towels by Mrembo, but this isn`t enough. - Fortunately for me, I have talked to my mum about this and she can buy the pads for me, but this isn`t the case for many girls, Jacinter says.
Saving up for marriage. Both Eddah and Jacinter wants to keep their virginity until marriage. - This is extra hard when you are living in the slum, and next year I will be starting High School. In High School the pressure will increase as the boys are getting more mature. Eddah can also tell me that if you are living in the slum it is extra important to stay away from sex as the chances of getting pregnant, getting HIV and other STIs.
For more information,please read the attached newsletter that was developed by VAP’s volunteer Sigrid Eikland from Norway.Additionally,we want to thank you for your continous donation and support that is making the entire project a big success..