Usalama means "safety" in Swahili, and with the Usalama Center, that is what we hope to provide for at-risk girls (ages 11-14) in rural Kenyan villages. Since 2005, Kenya Keys has been working in partnership with villages in Kenya to improve educational opportunities for youth. The greatest need at this time is to provide a center that will provide protection, mentoring, family counseling, tutoring, and business training to girls who are at extreme risk.
The girls served by Kenya Keys are some of the most at-risk girls in the world. Coming from the poorest district in Kenya, they face severe challenges. To stay in school and build a better life, these girls must overcome risks like starvation, disease (malaria, HIV/AIDS), heavy work load, animal attacks, molestation, the sex trade, prostitution, & early marriage. Without help, only 5% of girls in the area are able to attend secondary school. Pregnancies among 6th-8th grade girls are increasing.
The Usalama Center will provide (1) a safe haven for girls who are being pursued or attacked; (2) mentoring in assertiveness, life skills, and study habits; (3) family counseling to help parents support their girls' education; (4) a study hall that includes tutoring and study resources; (5) classes for girls who are pregnant, to help them stay in school; and (6) business training to help the center and the girls become self-sustaining. Girls will develop skills to build a better future.
When a girl in the developing world is rescued from the extreme challenges she faces, she, her family, her community, and her future children all benefit. Studies show that a girl in the developing world who receives at least seven years of education marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. Just one extra year of primary school will boost a girl's future wages by 10-20%. An extra year of secondary school results in a 15-25% increase. We anticipate directly serving 200 girls per year.
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A Kenyan girl's perspective