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September sees the start of the third term for our Seed of Hope centres. This is the shortest of the three terms and the most pressured one for both first and second years. For first years there is their first experience of government exams and for second years the preparations for graduation and leaving the centre to start up their own business.
In December, our first year students will sit their Grade 3 Dressmaking exam. Regulated by the Department of Industrial Training this is a national exam which, if passed, gives the girls a certificate which is recognised by employers in the industry. Students sit these exams at external centres. The exams are mainly practical but also involve some theory questions.
Our second year students sat their Grade 2 Dressmaking exam in August and are awaiting their results. In the meantime, there is lots of work to be done in their final term at Seed of Hope. There have been some changes to the curriculum which has seen the addition of a design competition for second years across all four centres. This project involves each student designing 2 outfits and producing them. Students have free choice over the designs but must incorporate some of the skills they have learned in craft lessons –beadwork, fabric painting, tie and dye. They must also produce accessories such as jewellery to compliment each outfit. The winning designers will be awarded towards the end of the term.
In November, our rural centres will start to establish “Roots” businesses for second year students. “Roots” sees the girls divided into groups of about 5 girls who go through the process of starting up a business under the supervision of their teachers. For each business, Seed of Hope will provide for a sewing machine, 3 months’ rent and a trading licence. To encourage ownership of the business, the girls and their families will be expected to provide a table, mirror, stools, scissors and the materials required to produce their first outfits.
The end of November is when our centres host their graduation ceremonies. These events are celebrations where family and friends are invited to congratulate the girls on their achievements. Each girl wears an outfit she has designed and produced and some centres also put on fashion shows with first year students modelling the second years work.
Graduates from the rural centres continue with their Roots business as they save up to each start their own business. Nairobi students spend December and January working on attachment at local businesses before moving on to start their Roots business in February.
As you can see, the next few months promise to be busy. In addition to all of this work, plans are underway to establish income generating activities at each of our Seed of Hope centres. All centres are hoping to start making school uniforms to sell in their local communities to bring in some funds. Our centre in Kariti has made good progress so far with a farming project involving pigs and a cow and trees grown for timber. They also use their land to produce vegetables which the girls consume. Kitui Seed of Hope has started rearing chickens and growing fruits such as pawpaw (papaya) and passion fruits which can reduce the food budget as they provide girls with their daily fruit. In addition to this, they hope to set up a bakery and are exploring the possibilities of beekeeping. Our centre in Nyamache, near Kisii, has been growing maize and beans for sale and bananas and vegetables for consumption. This centre also has plans to set up a bakery and is planting trees which can be grown for timber. As for Nairobi....watch this space as there’s an exciting new project about to be revealed!!
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