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Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls

by Raising Futures Kenya
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Self-reliance for 300 vulnerable Kenyan girls
Rebecca at Seed of Hope Kitui
Rebecca at Seed of Hope Kitui

It is unbelievable how fast the year has gone by.  At Seed of Hope, it has been a busy year full of activities and engaging the students and community in decision making for projects that affect them.  It is the end of the school calendar year and all the students at Seed of Hope centres are preparing for their internal and external exams before breaking for the Christmas holiday.  The homecare management course students at Kariti Seed of Hope centre have been released to go for work experience placements after completing their syllabus to get a hands-on experience in what they have been trained on in the last eleven months.  The rest of the students will be starting their internal exams next week and those who have registered for the government grade test with National Industrial and Technical Authority (NITA) will have another week to sit for grade 3 test before the centres close on the 11th December 2019. 

One of the girls who has been the best in her course of study and is not afraid of sitting for two exams is Rebecca from Kangweni Seed of Hope centre in Kitui County.  Rebecca joined the training centre in 2018 after going through a rough patch in life having taken the decision to get married at a tender age with the belief that she will escape poverty that robbed her of the opportunity to advance in her education.  After three years of marriage and blessed with a child, Rebecca was still not happy with life as there was a missing piece that she needed to find in order to fill the gap, yet her options were thinning out!  She felt hopeless and desperate to change her family's living condition, particularly for her parents.

Rebecca suggested to her husband that she go back to the village to find work in order to contribute to meeting their daily expenses, and to be able to support her parents. Instead, Rebecca's husband suggested she finds a course she is interested to train on so that she can have better chance to earn a living through employment or self-employment.  Rebecca had heard about Kangweni Seed of Hope which is not very far from her parents’ home and when she walked in to inquire about the skills training, she did not hesitate to register herself in fashion and fabric design course and was excited to get started!  

Being a young mother, Rebecca was initially shy to interact with the other students as she joined a class of very young girls who had just come out of primary school or high school.  But through empowerment programmes like Amuka, mentorship, guidance and counselling, Rebecca was imparted with knowledge and skills that changed her personality and more so brought out her natural leadership traits.  Her self-esteem and confidence blossomed and she became the star of the school hence being elected the school captain towards the end of her first year.  

Rebecca’s husband and parents have been very supportive since she joined the training and she has never missed classes which has helped her to concentrate and become one of the top students in her course of study.  What is more exciting is that Rebecca is now ready to sit for her grade test and then join her sister-in-law who runs a dressmaking business in Kitui town.  Her star continues to shine bright now that she has completed her final project before graduating in January 2020, and I believe she will be earning a good income that will enable her to alleviate poverty in her family.

As we end our interview, Rebecca had this to say and I quote “I finally found the missing piece which took so many years of desperation and unfulfilled dreams and shame to find.  I am now empowered with knowledge and skills thanks to Seed of Hope for this opportunity that has changed me to a better daughter, wife and mother.  I am ready to go out and compete in the market place and achieve my dreams.” What a way to end a conversation! We wish Rebecca all the best in her forthcoming exams and her future plans.

In other news, the Seed of Hope graduation will be happening in January instead of the usual December. This will give the students more time in December on the new syllabus course work, ensuring all topics are well covered in preparation for their exams and that they're ready for working in a competitive market.  I believe this was a good move as it has created an opportunity for new enrolment of students especially at the Nairobi Seed of Hope centre who will be joining the class of 2020.  There are at least 5 girls like Violet who already joined in October and more are coming to register themselves for the coming year. 

On behalf of Seed of Hope, I would like to say thank you for being our greatest supporters and cheerleaders in transforming the lives of needy and hopeless girls like Rebecca who had dreams of being able to change her future which she is now fulfilling. Your generous giving towards this programme has been instrumental in providing the teaching, lunch programme, learning materials and other essentials.  We look forward to another year of positive impact and transformation as we continue to equip and empower more girls with skills and knowledge that will open doors to brighter future.

On behalf of everyone at Raising Futures Kenya - thank you and best wishes for the holiday season.

Rebecca working on her graduation outfit
Rebecca working on her graduation outfit
Violet, showing off the first mat she has made
Violet, showing off the first mat she has made
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Esther
Esther

Seed of Hope provides more than skills training to our young people across the counties we are working in Kenya.  The majority of the young people have said that Seed of Hope has enabled them to grow; spiritually, mentally, emotionally and also in different skills.  The graduates also tell us how Seed of Hope has built their confidence, self-esteem and character, which has transformed their lives positively. 

Currently we have girls who have taken up leadership roles thanks to various programmes implemented like the mentorship, Amuka, peer education, and focused group discussions that help to bring out the inner strength and confidence from our girls just like in the case of Esther, a fashion and design student.  Esther joined the Seed of Hope Nairobi centre in the second term of 2018 after trying out casual jobs in order to support her father.  When she enrolled, she would come into class very early and sit alone at the corner where nobody will recognize her presence.  She was softly spoken and shy but managed to stand out among other girls with her mode of dressing, makeup and hair styles. 

It was when Seed of Hope moved to its new premises that I got the opportunity to know more about Esther since she was among the few girls who remained behind as the other students went for their industrial attachment.  As I interacted and got to know our students better, I learnt that Esther is the last born in a family of two.  They were raised by their father after the death of their mum when she was 15 years.  Her father remarried so that his daughters could get motherly care, advice and support but this did not last as they separated when Esther was about to complete secondary education.  This affected her thus she did not perform well at the end of secondary school exams.  For the one year she stayed home, Esther was lonely with no hope of going to college as her father, who works as a security guard, had struggled to pay for her secondary education and it was obvious that he would not afford the college fee.  This forced her to go out and look for any job in order to meet her personal needs, as well as support her father in paying the bills.  According to Esther, this was the best decision she made because it was during her daily duties as a house help that she met one of Seed of Hope graduates who informed her about the programme and the courses being offered.  Esther shared this news with her father who decided to inquire further by vising the Seed of Hope centre.  He feared the fee payment but at the same time he did not want to disappoint his daughter.  After getting positive feedback from the Seed of Hope project administrator about the free courses, Esther’s father did not hesitate and asked his daughter to enrol immediately. 

At Seed of Hope, Esther has greatly transformed from the shy girl at the corner of her class to this bold, confident and responsible girl.  She was anonymously elected by other students as the Head Girl since she has led students to participate in different activities within the school and also with our partners.  She is also in charge of the dressmaking, fashion design class and the teacher has entrusted her with the role of assisting other students as she has worked hard to perfect her skills.  

In the last few weeks, Esther has been attached to one of our Seed of Hope graduates called Rosebella.  When I asked her teacher why she chose Esther, she said; “I have trained so many of our girls at Seed of Hope and I could tell the potential each one has.  Esther has shown interest and commitment in her course by working hard to improve her skills.  I want her to learn more from professionals like Rosebella who have been in this business for a long time so she too can build her own empire in future.”  When I asked Esther about her ambition in life, she said; “After graduating, I would like to start my own fashion business that will be recognized regionally but also internationally. I also want to support other young girls like me who have lost hope and face challenges in their lives.”  We wish Esther all the best even as she prepares to graduate at the end of the year.

In other news, the Seed of Hope centres took a short recess beginning of August but they will be resuming in the first week of September.  Apart from the Amuka programme, our students were given the opportunity to voice their concerns, share ideas and suggestion on how we can improve the programme through the focused group discussions.  They also participated in visioning meetings for the Nairobi new build project as we plan for the future growth of the Seed of Hope programme.  We believe that by engaging our students, their concerns, views and suggestions will significantly bring change, growth and development as they are the reason that Seed of Hope programme exists.

On behalf of our girls, teachers and management we would like sincerely thank you for the generous contribution towards this programme as we would not have made it this far without your support.  I believe that you will walk with us in this journey of transformation as we give hundreds of girls hope and opportunity to become change makers in their own lives, their families and the community they live in.  In as much as the impact is measurable, there are still many young girls who are unreachable and are in need our support to become self-sustained hence raise their standards of living.  

Thank you again for your kind support!

Sherry Waweru
Senior Programmes Officer

Focused group discussion
Focused group discussion
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Seed of Hope class during World Menstruation Day
Seed of Hope class during World Menstruation Day

“Seed of Hope is the best place for me because I have the opportunity to get skills free of charge, learning materials and a good meal at lunch time!” Annet says as we sat down during our one on one conversation. It is through these kinds of interactions that we get to learn more about the background of each student who enrols at Seed of Hope. We build good rapports with our students so they feel able to approach us whenever they have an issue that might affect their training while at Seed of Hope. Annet comes from a polygamous family and has six siblings. Her mother was a single parent when she got married as a second wife when Annet was 7 years old. Life was not easy for Annet in her new family as she was expected not only to carry out house chores after school but also sell groundnuts on the streets in order to get money for the family since she was treated as the outsider. This caused her to perform poorly at the end of primary education exams hence her home and dreams of joining high school were shattered. She said that her parents could not even afford to pay for her school fees in the local day school much as she had pleaded with them.

In 2017, Annet’s older brother brought her to Nairobi to help him in house chores as his wife was about to have a baby. For the two years after completing primary school, Annet has been living with her brother helping out around the house. One day she went to a salon and the lady who does her hair asked whether she was interested in getting some skills in hair or fashion design. The hair dresser had heard about Seed of Hope after we moved in to the new community and thought it would benefit a young girl like Annet. This news excited Annet and she shared with her brother who was very supportive of the idea of getting vocational skills. They came to inquire about Seed of Hope and eventually, Annet was enrolled in dressmaking, fashion and design course.

Teacher Florence who is in charge of the dressmaking class says that Annet’s self-esteem was very low when she came but through the empowerment programme for the young girls her attitude, confidence and self- esteem improved significantly and more so she has improved in her course work as well. Annets’s plan for the future is to find employment in the textile industry in order to become independent but also support her parents , educate her younger siblings to the level of education they would have wanted.

Seed of Hope has come a long way in transforming the lives of girls like Annet who were once hopeless and unsure what the future holds for them because of poverty in the family. The skills imparted to our students not only focus on vocational courses but business enterprise, life skills, and mentorship and many other empowerment programmes. All this is geared towards giving them hope; dignity and opportunity to be confident, creative and self-driven in order to become self-reliant so as to raise their living standards and that of their families.

In addition, Raising Futures Kenya provides a platform where students can share their views, opinion and concerns regarding their time at Seed of Hope. Through focused group discussions that is ongoing across the Seed of hope centres, our students now have the opportunity to inform the organization on how best they can be supported to achieve their goal but also how we can improve the Seed of Hope programme.

The girls also celebrated World Menstruation Day on 28 May by expressing their gratitude to Seed of Hope programme for the provision of sanitary towels. Majority of our girls confessed that due to poverty, their parents cannot afford to buy them a packet of sanitary towel hence forced to find other alternatives .It is through your donations that our girls receive this essential commodity in order to keep them in school during that time of the month but also protect them from men who lure and take advantage of their lack of money to buy.

Thank you for your continuing support because it is through your generous giving towards Seed of Hope that has made it possible for the girls like Annet to raise their confidence, self-esteem through the opportunity given to them so as to have a bright and promising future.  We believe that girls at Seed of Hope have potential to live independent and successful lives through employment or self-employment.

Annet in class
Annet in class
Annet
Annet
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Caroline with her models
Caroline with her models

Each New Year at Seed of Hope begins with a flurry of activity as our teaching team work hard to enrol new students. Since January when Seed of Hope resumed learning, we have enrolled 116 girls to acquire vocational skills in the courses of their choice. Each course also now has a mandatory computing course so that all students are fully equipped to fit into the job market with complete confidence. The enrolment process is facilitated by our work in the community through our outreach programme that is run by Seed of Hope staff in the communities surrounding our centres. They help us to identify and build relationships with disadvantaged girls in the community in order to prepare them for enrolment at Seed of Hope.

January was an exciting month as we also celebrated our Nairobi graduation. This was the 14th graduation since the implementation of Seed of Hope in 2002. The graduation event took place in our new Seed of Hope premises and it attracted a lot of people as the community had never witnessed such an event. The parents and guardians also showed up in larger numbers to witness their girls being crowned and issued with a certificate in their course of study. We had plenty of guests come to celebrate including our new chair of trustees from the UK who had been visiting our projects to see and learn what we do at the grass root level. He also had the opportunity to interact with our beneficiaries, staff, graduates and other stakeholders during his time with us.

During the graduation celebration I spoke with Caroline. She comes from a humble family of three siblings. Her mother is the sole breadwinner of a huge family of cousins, uncles and aunts who all live together. Caroline struggled to earned her secondary education certificate as her mother worked to provide the basic necessities for the family. After her secondary education, she stayed idle at home for 2 years as her mother could not afford to pay for her college. She was in the state of hopelessness when a preacher from their village informed them about the Seed of Hope centre, meaning in 2017 Caroline joined the dressmaking, fashion & fabric design course.

In her two years of skills training, Caroline was ranked among the best students who showed great improvement and interest to her coursework. She then went for attachment at Nairobi Textile Business Centre, one of the biggest textile industries within the city. At first it was a challenge to commute every day from home to the city, but her mother and siblings supported her with bus fare and a few extra coins for lunch. Her boss was that impressed by her hard work that they began to refer clients to her, sent her to get supplies of materials and deliver products to clients in different places. At the end of the day, Caroline would be given some pocket money which motivated her to learn new designs. During the presentation of their project at the graduation, we were overwhelmed by the beautiful pieces of clothes she had made as she brought her graduation gown as well as 4 other gowns for the models who were showcasing her beautiful collections.

All of Caroline’s family came to the graduation to celebrate her accomplishment. I noticed a few of her family members were dressed up in nice African Kitenge designs so I took the opportunity to inquire where they were made and I could not believe it when Caroline’s older sister said that Caroline had made all their clothes. Her mother who was so proud had this to say, “Today I am the happiest mother on earth because I can finally see the seed that was planted in my daughter. I would like to thank Seed of Hope and everyone involved in making this project a success.” Caroline’s family, friends and neighbours could not hide their joy as they asked me to take photos of them. The best news is that up to date, Caroline is still working at Nairobi textile and she plans to save enough to establish her business within the same location as she has built a client base.

I would like to sincerely thank you for supporting young girls like Caroline who had lost hope in life and through your generous donations towards the Seed of Hope programme, she is now living a happy life, dreaming to achieve greater things. Thank you for allowing us to equip and empower these young girls with relevant skills that give them hope, dignity and opportunity to be employed or self – employed becoming self-reliant and able to raise the standards of living for their families.

Graduating girls
Graduating girls
Designed attires from graduates
Designed attires from graduates
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Seed of Hope Kariti graduation procession
Seed of Hope Kariti graduation procession

As of 2017, approximately 1,300 girls have graduated from our Seed of Hope programme with not only a certificate in their course of studies, but with the confidence to compete in the job market and make positive impact wherever they go. 

As the year comes to an end, there is always splendor and excitement at our Seed of Hope centres across Kenya as the second year students graduate from their courses. Kariti Seed of Hope centre held their celebration on Wednesday last week with 42 graduates, while 51 Seed of Hope Kitui students graduated on Friday. Our Nairobi centre will graduate in January. These annual events bring together families, friends, former graduates and the whole community to witness the achievements of the students at the end of their training. According to teacher Faith from Kariti centre, the number of people who came to witness the graduation had doubled that of 2017! This is due to greater impact the programme has made in the lives of many young people who are now making a positive impact in the community they come from.

A young woman called Rachel attended the Kariti graduation - she graduated from Kariti Seed of Hope in 2009 and is now running her own dressmaking, fashion design business in a town close to her village. She was invited to give a speech during the graduation ceremony and was full of praise of how the Seed of Hope programme took her from feeling hopeless to a great businesswoman. Rachel who is now married with two children had this to say “my heart is overwhelmed with happiness seeing the number of graduates who have worked hard to complete their courses. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Seed of Hope gave me because am living a good life because the seed that was planted 10 years ago has bore good fruits that my family and I enjoy.”

She encouraged the 2018 graduating class to be proactive in looking for internship and job opportunities this festive season so that they can start to earn a living. Rachel was among the 15 former graduates from Kariti Seed of Hope centre who attended the ceremony. We wish all the 2018 graduates all the best as they go out to utilize their skills and make a living!

The impact that this programme has had in the lives of young women like Rachel would not have been possible without your generous giving! Thank you for supporting our Seed of Hope programme and helping us to give young women opportunity to fulfill their potential.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!

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Organization Information

Raising Futures Kenya

Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @raisingfutures
Project Leader:
Sherry Waweru
Nairobi, Kenya
$120,092 raised of $200,000 goal
 
1,492 donations
$79,908 to go
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