The year 2014 opens with celebrations for our nonprofit Solidarity for the Advancement of Women's Agenda (SAWA) as we count the number of girls joining high school with confidence – thanks to the mentorship program. The role of mentorship in this case has been:
All the girls who are direct beneficiaries of our program started such mentorship projects in their respective villages and in total we have, from those groups, 13 girls aged 13-14 years who scored between 285 and 395 marks out of the possible 500 and have invitation letters to join various high schools. They are reporting to school this month.
The month of January also saw the launch of a mini-project at the SAWA office where girls come to the office to do practice/practicals on areas of their potential careers on Sunday afternoons. For example those interested in journalism like the 10 year old Catherine will write articles, peruse National Newspapers to indentify current themes and practice taking photos using our cameras. Others would model bank cashiers/tellers and spend time counting dummy notes and balancing accounts. SAWA office is thus busier on Sundays than any other day of the week. It is such an amazing scenario to watch and marvel at what young girls can do given opportunities.
Last week we visited a group composed of both primary and secondary school girls (aged 10 – 17) which works with Margaret, one of our direct beneficiaries. Although Margaret is busy in her tailoring shop that she started after the business skills acquired at SAWA, she meets the group on the afternoon of the last Sunday of the month to give inspirational talks and give girls an opportunity to communicate and so build their confidence. The encouraging story I gathered from this meeting was from Dorcas, an 11 year old class 6 pupil whose parents Margaret has convinced not to take through female genital mutilation (FGM). Margaret and the group comes from the Maasai community which is very well known to engage in FGM, early forced marriages and not keen to educate girls.
Since December last year, SAWA is collaborating with the Methodist church where we are training women to become mentors. This follows the realization that although the church is able to provide spiritual nurture, there is a social and enterprising component lacking, a gap which can be filled through mentorship. Most of the women in this church are well educated with good careers and businesses and have been very receptive of our training.
We are grateful to all well wishers who have facilitated us to empower girls in Kenya and give them an opportunity to achieve their dreams.
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