Our girls study during school breaks
Nancy Kay, our In-Coming Executive Director, and I just returned from Kenya, where we witnessed soaring inflation and a fuel crisis. Prices were escalating in just a few days. We also spent many days in the new compound with our 12 thriving girls. All were home on a school break, so the compound was filled with their unbounded energy. We were very impressed with how well they all get along, sharing a few jump ropes and a soccer ball and creating games with stones and local material. Laughter was the predominant sound.
But, playing came after a morning of study supervised by an experienced school teacher, who was making sure every girl would return to school with all their school work done. They crowded together in the small sitting room on their side of the duplex to study.
Kenya has shortened their school terms, making it hard to keep up; but our girls are all on track.
A unique feature of our program is the trauma-informed counseling that every girl receives. Each girl receives one-on-one counseling from an experienced clinical psychologist, Dr. Opondo, who has to be creative finding a private space to conduct her counseling.
In addition, her assistant, Teacher Ann, as she is fondly called, supervises group therapy, which can include crafts, singing, reading and games. She told us that being with our girls is the best part of her day. In this photo, she is thrilled with the supplies we brought for her to use with the girls.
Easter Sunday, Teacher Ann organized a field day. First, she helped us dye Easter eggs, which the girls promptly ate, and then we hid plastic eggs. Next, she arranged for a series of team competition events with Nancy and I heading up the two teams. The games went on all day with lots of cheering and good will. We were exhausted at the end.
I spent a lot of time with the Principal Investigators of the study conducted last year documenting the extent of gender-based violence (GBV) in our community. As we reported in January, the findings revealed pervasive GBV. Over 44% of the 327 Class 8 girls interviewed reported having experienced or knowing someone who experienced physical violence. The consequences of the reported physical, sexual, and emotional violence included teen pregnancy, school dropout, exchanging sex for money (often used for school fees), abortion, suicidal thoughts and depression. Perpetrators were people known to the girls with adult relatives and school boys the most common perpetrators of defilement (rape). The most vulnerable girls were age 14, born out of wedlock, and living with a guardian. However, mitigation is weak and most girls did not know whether the violence was against their rights. The need for a comprehensive program to prevent and mitigate the effects of GBV is urgent.
The next step is to conduct a feasibility study to describe the willingness of key stakeholders, including girls, to support our proposed after school program and to understand the opportunities and challenges of offering the program. Then, after approval from the Ministry of Education, we will launch a pilot of the program.
We met with the Kenya Quilts for Empowerment Community Based Organization Board and reviewed our building options for the 3-story Community Resource Center. With inflation, the cost of building out the ground floor and including the skeletons of two top floors had more than doubled. The Board recommended just building out the ground floor and putting a cement pad roof on it and adding the additional two floors as funding allows.
The completed Ground Floor will have a large meeting/dining space, therapy room, dispensary, kitchen, laundry, storage, conference room and toilets. In addition to donating to GlobalGiving, you can help by attending our Auction.
QFE Auction May 23-June 1
Please consider helping us build the Ground Floor by participating in an on-line auction featuring our women’s beautiful hand-made quilted products. It starts on May 23, which is the UN’s International Day to End Fistula. We are still adding products, but check out our offerings at Folk Art to End Fistula 2022 Auction. Please share this link with your friends and family.
Counselor finds a spot to talk with our girls
Teacher Ann excited to receive gifts for the girls
Ground floor we hope to build