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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
Faith and her family in Kitui
Faith and her family in Kitui

Hello,

This is such a strange time for all of us. Many of us are separated from our loved ones and dealing with the uncertainty and daily news updates about the COVID-19 outbreak can take its toll on our mental health, we hope you are coping ok. 

Vic and I, and our team in Kenya, want you to know that we're thinking about you. Your support during this challenging time has brought light at a time of darkness and we thank you for continuing to stand by us and these children.

As I’m sure you may expect, the schools in Kenya are closed meaning the children and young people we support are at home with their families and not getting the free meals they would have been getting at our Seed of Hope vocational training centres. Many of the young students we work with, and their family members, have also lost their only source of income due to restrictions in place to stop the spread of the virus. 

Thanks to your on-going support, and our emergency fund, this week we have been able to provide emergency support to 43 students supporting 230 family members. We transferred emergency funds to them via mPesa transfer (a mobile phone currency) to adhere to social distancing rules. This enabled the families to buy a month’s supply of food, soap, hygiene products and cooking fuel. Eight families were also at risk of being made homeless because they couldn't pay their rent so we have supported them with that too.

Florence, our Seed of Hope Manager in Kenya, and the teachers are speaking to all of the students on a weekly basis to provide specialised counselling support to help them through this worrying time. They are also providing essential public health information to prevent the spread of misinformation. We anticipate needing to provide this level of support for at least another two months as it has been confirmed that the schools will remain shut for at least another month and restrictions on movement show no sign of being lifted at the moment meaning many will still have no means of earning an income to support their family.

There was already a huge demand for our free vocational training courses, the demand is only going to increase in the coming months as Kenya tries to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. We know from working in Kenya for 19 years that girls, and the most vulnerable, will always be negatively impacted the most so we are preparing for ways we can increase our support to those who need us most.

It is costing £30/$37 to provide a month of food and essentials for a family of 5 plus an additional £40/$49 for those who need rent support. It is a worrying time for all of the children and families but they know that we will stand by them now more than ever, thanks to the wonderful support of kind people like you - so we just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for enabling us to be there when we are needed the most.

We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well.

With best wishes,

Kirsty Erridge - Deputy Director
kirsty@raisingfutureskenya.org.uk

Rose from Kitui with family and their supplies
Rose from Kitui with family and their supplies
Sharon from Kitui with parents, sister & brother
Sharon from Kitui with parents, sister & brother
Emma, her brother and sister with their supplies
Emma, her brother and sister with their supplies

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Harriet showcasing her self-made graduation outfit
Harriet showcasing her self-made graduation outfit

The beginning of the year is always flurry of activity at the Seed of Hope centres as the current students report back before graduation and the new group of students stream in for enrolment in vocational courses of their choice. 

There has been a significant increase in the fashion and fabric design course enrolment after Florence, who is the Seed of Hope manager, was invited to talk about Seed of Hope on one of the most listened to radio stations in Kenya!  Florence was accompanied by Linnet who is one of the 2018 fashion and fabric design graduates who is now working in the fashion industry.  Linnet confidently shared her journey before and during her time at Seed of Hope and how the teachers helped her to deal with low self-esteem and build her confidence.  She encouraged many young girls who have lost hope and are on the verge of giving up on their dreams to visit one of Seed of Hope centres and get enrolled for a course that will transform their lives. 

In January 139 students graduated.  The graduation events were full of pomp and colour with former graduates honoured and current graduates showcasing their skills!  The fashion design students came up with very unique gowns to celebrate their day, the homecare management students prepared the best meals for the celebration while the hair and beauty therapy students ensured that all the girls looked absolutely gorgeous with their hair and make up!  Harriet is one of the girls graduating and she was wearing the Ankara shorts and matching top she made.

Harriet comes from a very humble family of four siblings.  Her mother is a house manager while her father is a preacher who depends on well-wishers for support as he has no other source of income.  Although Harriet completed her secondary education, she did not perform well enough to advance to university.  After finishing school, Harriet looked for a job in order to contribute to family’s basic needs.  She worked as a waitress in a restaurant for 4 months before her father learned about Seed of Hope, he knew that his daughter’s desire was to study fashion design, and so Harriet joined Seed of Hope. 

Our Seed of Hope training centres not only provide free high quality skills training, we offer a holistic package of support to help young students deal with many of the issues they’re facing by providing; mental health support, free lunches, sanitary products, empowerment programmes and other extracurricular activities that motivates and enables them to nurture their talents, improve their self- esteem and build confidence. 

During graduation, Harriet’s mother was emotional seeing her daughter being presented with a graduation certificate, they'd had to sacrifice some of the little income they had as a family to make sure that Harriet had bus money to attend the course as they lived 14km away.  Her teacher also ensured that if she missed any lessons she was able to catch up since she had seen Harriet's talented potential and worked closely with her to the last minute when Harriet presented her final project, her wonderful graduation outfit (pictured).  After graduation, Harriet has now been offered an internship with Penninah, a Seed of Hope graduate with a well-established fashion design business.  We look forward to seeing Harriet progress as she gets hands-on experience in the workplace and advice from an expert in the fashion industry.  This resonates well with a statement made earlier this year by Kenya’s First Lady who declared, “We need a world that is safer and more open to equal opportunities for our girls and women. We need to unlock the potential of girls, to raise girls that are bolder, better educated and ready to give their best to our world—in whatever capacity.” 

Harriet believes that this programme has done exactly that as she said “Seed of Hope has imparted skills that encouraged me not to give up on my dreams and to focus on everything I want to achieve in life.  I am now learning new designs and I can’t wait to complete my internship and open my own business”.  We wish Harriet all the best as she charts a new path towards a bright future.

Good news is that Raising Futures Kenya has received a grant that will support graduates from the two centres located in marginalised communities.  The 2019 graduates from Seed of Hope Kariti and Kitui will have access to a revolving loan that will enable them establish businesses using skills gained from training to start their own business, become financially independent and boost their livelihoods.  Both graduates and parents have completed financial literacy training, written their business plans and will shortly be receiving their business start-up loan.

Thank you for your generous giving towards Seed of Hope programme as it is through your support that girls like Harriet are able to overcome some of the challenges they face in their young life so they can thrive and reach their full potential. It is through your continuous giving that vulnerable girls are empowered, encouraged and equipped with skills that gives them a voice in creating their own path, improve the family living standards and participate in building the economy of the nation.

Fashion and fabric design students at graduation
Fashion and fabric design students at graduation
Graduation day in Nairobi!
Graduation day in Nairobi!
Hair and beauty students getting ready!
Hair and beauty students getting ready!
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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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Organization Information

Raising Futures Kenya

Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @raisingfutures
Project Leader:
Sherry Waweru
Nairobi, Kenya
$124,559 raised of $200,000 goal
 
1,525 donations
$75,441 to go
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