Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya

by Ecologia Youth Trust
Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya
Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya
Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya
Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya
Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya
Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya
Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya
Skills Training to Empower Women in Meru, Kenya
Shani looks forward to what the future holds
Shani looks forward to what the future holds

We’re celebrating #InternationalWomensDay on 8th March.

There’s no better time to support gender equality with our incredible match-fund opportunity for you!

At Ecologia Youth Trust, we know that helping women and girls unlock their full potential is key to building a brighter future...which is why every day we work with our partner, International Peace Initiatives, to support vulnerable young mothers in Meru, Kenya, to build stronger, sustainable futures for themselves and their children.

Women just like Shani, who is a domestic abuse survivor. Shani is one of the many women in Meru who have taken part in our accredited Hair & Beauty skills training course that is being delivered by our grassroots partner, International Peace Initiatives. Women who have been victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence and forced marriage at a young age.

Shani says, “I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to learn with Ecologia and International Peace Initiatives.  They supported me and my young child, and I live with a single mum who was on the same skills training course as I am. With my new skills in Hair & Beauty, I can afford to send my daughter to a good school. She can get the education I never had. I will be the best role model I can be for her. I will show her that she is capable of so much.”

This International Women’s Day, we're inviting you to stand with Shani and the other women on our skills training courses by helping us provide 105 women in Meru County free access to skills training so that they can provide for themselves, their families and change their lives for the better.

In celebration of #InternationalWomensDay, a generous donor has offered 100% match-funding on all donations (up to £500). A donation from you today will have DOUBLE the impact and give even more women the way to step away from poverty.

Donate today to support vulnerable, young women build brighter futures: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/skills-training-to-empower-women-in-meru-kenya/

You can give women and girls in Kenya the opportunities they deserve.

Let’s build a gender equal future together.

Learning to braid
Learning to braid
Thank you!
Thank you!
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Learning how to make braided hair extensions
Learning how to make braided hair extensions

In our last report, we were so excited to let you know that 35 women were progressing well with their Hair and Beauty skills training course, despite delays from the pandemic.

Today, on their behalf, I am asking for your help.

In March 2021, 35 single young mothers took the first steps on a journey to a new life. Like Julia, most of these women had turned to commercial sex work in order to provide for their children. With no education, family support, or any other options available to them, they did what they could to survive.

But you gave them hope. Because of your generosity, we were able to provide them with a 1-year skills training course. This course included an accredited Diploma in Hair & Beauty, the training to grow confidence and entrepreneurship skills, as well as valuable education in reproductive health.

Because of you, these 35 women have flourished. They are able to put their newfound skills to use, earning them a good, secure income to provide for themselves and their children. They can make sure their children can now get the school education they never received.

Because of you, these 35 women have the confidence and determination to build their own businesses and succeed. They want to share their knowledge with other women and girls in their communities, providing job opportunities for them.

Because of you, none of them have returned to commercial sex work, and they are supporting other women to grow sustainable lives, away from violence and discrimination. They are educating communities about gender equality and teaching young girls that they have every right to chase their dreams.

Today they need your help, now more than ever. We have been unable to secure the full £22,919 it costs to run year 2 of our 3-year project. They are due to finish their training in February 2022, meaning they only have one more term left until they finish their 1-year course.

But we need just £3,000 in order to cover the final costs of their course. This will see them through their final lessons and exams, while also helping them to buy the equipment necessary to start their own businesses from home to secure their future for the long-term.

Please, act now to secure the futures of the women in our skills training course.

Donate today and help make Julia's dreams come true.  

A lesson in braiding
A lesson in braiding
Pedicures and foot massages!
Pedicures and foot massages!
It's time for a facial!
It's time for a facial!
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Collecting emergency food parcels
Collecting emergency food parcels

In our last report, we were so excited to let you know that in February 2021, Year 1 of our 3-year project was finished! As a result, 23 women on our Hair & Beauty Skills Training course successfully completed their 1-year course at International Peace Initiatives (IPI) Polytechnic. Many have set up their own businesses at home, and have already began putting their skills to good use. Because of your support, they have transitioned from single mothers working as commercial sex workers, living in poverty and in constant fear of violence, to certified hair & beauty practitioners. They are now an integral part of their communities, earning a good income and able to support their children and send them to good schools. Because of you, these 23 women are living a better life, and can now secure a brighter future for their children.

Today, I’m even more delighted to let you know that we have since began Year 2 of our 3-year project. In February, 35 single mothers began their lessons at IPI Polytechnic. So far, they have learnt about different braiding techniques, different methods in cutting men’s hair, and the technical skills for pedicures and manicures.

They are eager to learn. However, lessons had to come to a halt in March 2021 when the Kenyan Government announced another lockdown in order to reduce the rising number of Coronavirus cases in the country. The women were sent back home, unable to continue at IPI until the lockdown was lifted.

These vulnerable young mothers have no regular income to survive on. And with prices soaring in Kenya, it is becoming even more difficult for those in poverty to buy food supplies, medications, and necessities such as hand sanitiser or soap. Thankfully, the women had learnt enough to put their new-found skills to use. The past couple of months, they have been earning a small income by braiding hair of women and children in their local communities. But they cannot yet earn enough money to help them survive another lockdown.

Will you please help them? Will you donate today to support the 35 women on our skills training course, so that they can provide for themselves and their children while the pandemic continues to create chaos in African communities?

Dr Karambu, Project Manager and Director of IPI says, “We all take one day at a time in these challenging times. I cannot say that it has been easy, but your support has made a huge impact and helped these women remain hopeful for their futures. The difference these skills training courses have made in the lives of women in Kenya and their children is phenomenal.”

last lesson before the 2021 lockdown
last lesson before the 2021 lockdown
Year 1 cohort completing their course in Feb 2021
Year 1 cohort completing their course in Feb 2021
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2019-20 class with their last clients as students
2019-20 class with their last clients as students

It seems so long ago now, since we first started our three-year skills training project! Year One of the Hairdressing and Beauty Training has now been completed in spite of a 6-month break caused by restrictions of the Coronavirus.

On 9th September 2019, 25 women took their first steps towards a better life. These brave women were mothers who were suffering with unimaginable hardship. Some brought children into this world when they were themselves children, some were suffering with domestic distress, and others had no other choice but to become commercial sex workers to survive.

The one thing they all had in common? A determination to be strong, financially independent, and able to give their children better opportunities in life.  

The aim of this three-year project is to equip 105 young and vulnerable women with the beauty and hairdressing skills they need to secure a good income to build sustainable livelihoods and provide for themselves and their children. The course includes a leadership and mentoring programme, where they were taught vital life skills, and sex education to increase women’s empowerment over their own bodies, and reduce unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases. Each of the women are also offered individual counselling by a qualified counsellor, to help overcome past traumas. I am glad to say that the first year of our three-year project has been successful, though not without its challenges.

Of the 25 women recruited, three women dropped out of the course, due to unexpected factors. One woman became pregnant and felt unable to continue. Two other women dropped out due to domestic abuse. Our partner, International Peace Initiatives, were fortunately in a position to provide these two women with additional support, giving them and their children a safe place to live at the Kithoka Amani Home, away from their husbands. They will complete their course alongside the Year Two cohort in 2021.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the course was forced to stop in April 2020. At this point, the women on our Hair & Beauty course only had three months left to complete. The majority of this was the opportunity to gain work experience in placements at existing salons, where the women could learn from other women who were already running their own businesses successfully. Thankfully, the Kenyan lockdown lifted in October 2020, and the women were able to resume their training.

Despite these challenges, we have successfully delivered 11 months (September 2019 – March 2020, October 2020 – January 2021) of Hair & Beauty training, as well as the accompanying Leadership and Mentoring programme to 22 vulnerable young women, who will be graduating in the summer of 2021 with a recognised diploma. These women 22 women have been:

  • equipped with communication and entrepreneurial skills to help manage their own business.
  • equipped with leadership and mentoring skills.
  • empowered to share their new abilities with other vulnerable women in their communities.

The sex education component has also been a success, with only one new pregnancy, and no new STI cases reported. The women reported that they felt more confident and empowered, and have been sharing their new knowledge with other women in their local communities.

None of the women have returned to commercial sex work, and have begun earning a good income using their hair & beauty skills.

"Hairdressing is my passion, but is also helps me generate an income. I love the independence it gives me and the friends I am making. I can now provide for myself and have the confidence to be innovative. I want to open up a salon when I graduate and provide job opportunities for other women.” – Enda G. 2020 Graduate

“The designing of people’s hairstyles makes me happy…it helps me earn good money, care for my child, and I will train those interested in hairdressing from my community.” – Rosemary M. 2020 Graduate

“I started this course first in 2017, but dropped out due to many reasons. My home was no longer safe, so I left. I thank God that International Peace Initiatives didn’t leave me. They searched and searched until they found me, and helped bring me back. Now, I’m so happy. I’ve finished my course and will graduate soon. Me and my child can have a better life.” – Janice K. 2020 Graduate

Preparations are also underway for the Year Two cohort to start their hair and beauty diploma. This month, 35 vulnerable women are taking the first steps to building happier, independent lives. They are very excited to start their lessons.

I hope you will join us in wishing them the best of luck! Thank you for supporting these women.

My warmest wishes to you and your loved ones – I sincerely hope you are safe and well during this time.

Robyn Cooper

Project Development and Marketing Officer

 

P.S. Between 8th – 12th March this year, this project is taking part in GlobalGiving’s International Women’s Week! All online donations to our Hair & Beauty skills training project via GlobalGiving will be match-funded by 50% (up to $50). Every penny will be used to support the running of the project and help the women who want to change their lives - and the lives of their children – for the better.

Janice K. looking forward to her future
Janice K. looking forward to her future
Last student beauty practical lesson - pedicures!
Last student beauty practical lesson - pedicures!
Mothers and children on the last day of class
Mothers and children on the last day of class
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Collecting food parcels at IPI during the pandemic
Collecting food parcels at IPI during the pandemic

I think we can all agree that the past few months have challenged us in ways we couldn’t have foreseen. Here in the UK, people have worried for their health, their jobs, and their loved ones.

It’s been a similar story overseas in Africa as well.

In March 2020, our partners – International Peace Initiatives – unfortunately had to close their doors to comply with the lockdown in Kenya. That meant that the 25 women who were close to finishing their accredited Diploma in Hair & Beauty, were asked to go home.

Lilian, Enda, and Rose are 3 of the women who are waiting to return to their studies at International Peace Initiatives. They say, “There are no jobs, schools are closed, and we cannot even go to church. All we do is stay at home. We would have already finished our training by now…we don’t even know whether we’ll definitely be able to finish! The economy is bad, everything is so expensive now. There is simply no money, because there are no jobs. We stay at home in fear, but we really want to come back and compete our course. We were learning so much and now we feel stuck.”

With no other jobs available and no means of an income, their situation was bleak. Food prices were increasing on a daily basis and other provisions were becoming hard to come by. That still is the case, but thanks to donors who supported our Emergency Appeal, we were able to raise enough funds to support the 25 women and their children. We provided them with masks, soap, food parcels and money to cover their rent so they don’t become homeless.

Thankfully, we are now in a position to say that the restrictions are being lifted in Kenya.

The 25 women engaged in our Skills Training have been supported throughout the pandemic, and we are happy to let them know that they will be finishing off their Diploma in January 2021. With only 3 months of training left, Lilian, Enda, Rose and the other women on the course will be trained Hairdressers by April 2021, ready to grow their own businesses.

However, they have no income until January 2021. This is where you can help, to support them and their children until they are able to qualify as professionals.

We’re excited to let you know that our second cohort of students for next year’s course are currently being selected! In January 2021, 35 women will be taking their first steps towards a new life of equality and independence. No longer will they have to turn to commercial sex work to provide for their families. Instead, they will spend their time learning Hair and Beauty techniques – a respected and profitable skillset in rural Kenyan communities. 

Despite the hardships that this year has brought us, we’re very optimistic about what the future holds for the women in our skills training programmes.

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Organization Information

Ecologia Youth Trust

Location: Forres, Moray - United Kingdom
Website:
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Twitter: @EcologiaYouthTr
Project Leader:
Robyn Cooper
Forres, Moray United Kingdom
$11,082 raised of $50,000 goal
 
213 donations
$38,918 to go
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