Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya

by Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW)
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
People are not passive recipients but active parti
People are not passive recipients but active parti

Dear Friends, Colleagues and supporters,

Towards the end of 2016, many participants in our finance literacy workshop with women majority were wearing a yellow HFAW t-shirt with words written on the back “Poverty in Our Minds, Wealth in Our Hands.” We were able to endorse kiva zip loans worth over $35,000 to our village women (including a few men), thanks to our friend and donor among you who introduced us to kiva zip Kenya. After a while we noticed that the businesses were not growing that much. We were so convinced that access to credits alone is not enough to ending poverty. 

Workshop facilitator, Carol, a middle aged woman who works in a local financial institution and speaks local language was invited to handle this topic in Kisii language using hands on methodology. As she emphasized the value of practicing saving, Gladys challenged her. “But Madam how is it possible to save? Our incomes are very low; we hardly are able to cater for our basic needs?  We are poor.” She stated.  Carol went on to state that “I see wealth all over you. I am from this region and I know each one of us is rich. Let me ask you something,” Carol continued. “What do you have in your garden”? She said bananas, “and what do you have in and around your home?”  She said the number of goats, cows, trees, chickens, and children and “I dig in my family garden,” Said Gladys.  Carol asked if there are participants in the room with similar or more things. Everybody raised their hands up. Gladys went on to argue that “those things do not make us rich. We have no school fees, medicine, and  money. Every day we wake up and struggle. The rich people are not like us.”

Carol went on to explain in simple terms issues concerning budgeting, savings, debt management and capital building including access to credits. Let us talk about budgeting. She asked Alice who rears chickens to explain how much money she invested and how much profit she has made so far. Alice explained that she just keeps buying chickens when she gets the money and sells them when she gets a customer. She might find a customer interested in eggs and she will sell. She will use the money in buying milk for the children. She confirmed that she has never kept a single record of anything. Carol explained how it is impossible to build wealth with random activities, no budgets and no planning.  It turns out that most activities ranging from agribusiness are considered way of life and is treated as “they come and go” without any seriousness.

Carol asked where the bananas go since everybody seems to have them, Agnes explained that just two weeks prior, “a relative visited from Nairobi and carried in her vehicle because in Nairobi there are no gardens and people seem to be buying everything.”, Then Carol walked them through some costing and it turns out the bananas, if sold could have earned  her Kenya shillings 10,000. That is equivalent of $100, money that is impossible to raise from women who earn a dollar a day.  The women seemed shocked. They asked who will buy their bananas since all villagers own their own bananas. Carol then explained that she could have connected with people in Nairobi and those bananas could have earned her perhaps 20,000 shillings ($200). The room went quiet with shock.

When Carol explained how women could save milk, maize, chickens etc. and save, Erick  complained. “Madam, do you want our wives to begin denying children milk so that they can sell and save? “Everybody laughed and applauded. Carol commended the man for his great question and explained how saving is possible without starving the children and the family. How many litres of milk do you harvest? Carol asked Joyce. Joyce said she only gets three a day. Is the cow well fed? Joyce said there is drought and there is no fodder. Did the cow get enough water? Was the cow inseminated by a vet nary doctor? And so many other questions that were important that no one was paying attention to. It turns out that Lawrence keeps only one cow but is able to harvest slightly more than 15 litres a day. “Lawrence can  you explain what you are doing to get more milk?. And he went into details of how he even keeps fodder during the rainy season and use during the dry spell. He explains that he has to sell all morning milk and everybody has more than enough to use from evening milking. There were rounds of applause in the room.

“Raise up your hand if you are here and know someone who harvests 15 litres of milk”, Carol requested.   Everybody raised their hands up. Story after story of how people took things for granted, misused or underused resources, never planned, never budgeted, had poor loan repayment record and did not even inform themselves where to sell products when they had plenty left everyone in the room thinking that they are poor.  Carol used discussion groups, and question and answer method as well as Manila paper work to make her points clear. She also used her own personal stories. “A few years ago, my husband passed on and left me with four children. I was desperate and felt poor. But that was a wakeup call for me. I have saved, I have budgeted and I have taken loans and repaid them. I am educating my children in good schools and I am never stopping. “She went on.  “I was inn worse situation than you are. You can do more than what I am doing.” She emphasized to a pin drop silence.

At the end of second day, people were emotional.” Madam, when we were invited to this training, we thought it was a waste of our time because such math education should be for the children, but now I am grateful” said Eucabeth. “You have spoken to our hearts and in a way we feel very sad how ignorant we have been.” She continued.

HFAW provides holistic program combining economic empowerment with self-driven community interventions by the community women themselves such as tackling GBV beginning with FGM. But HFAW understands that for transformative communities we need strategies that help people change their mindset. For economic empowerment to occur we must provide avenues for credits but women and communities have to learn how to budget, save, make effective loan repayments and build capital. They have to access mentors, learn to network and be able to develop strategies for real markets beyond their village. We have only taken the first step in unlocking one barrier to success and after just this one training we saw people thinking hard and wondering about things they often don’t think about. Karen emotionally expressed “For the first time, I know the meaning of these words on my T-shirt. Very true that poverty is in our mind, we have so much and we think we are poor.” She continued.

You have been with us from a distance when we began this journey. You helped us in training women to be community activist; then you linked us to kivazip loans through which they launched individual economic activities. You have been there when we have been doing various advocacies against FGM, child abuse and early pregnancies. Women have launched their own credit society to access credits and pay back. How can we forget you who have unwavering support and have even donated to the credit society? We wish you were physically present to witness the joy these women experience when they discover something so profound about themselves and when we share with them that you are their angels who support these projects. They know that none of these could be possible without your support.

We have now embarked on a schedule of finance and entrepreneurship literacy and agribusiness trainings, mentoring and technical support to be conducted through the 2017. All in addition to the continuing advocacy work against GBV especially FGM. We proudly welcome you to continue supporting us. Log on and give us your advice as well and how else we can do to address changing the poverty mindset. And thank you for believing in our cause.

With much gratitude

Grace Mose-Okongo

Carol in Blue captured their attention
Carol in Blue captured their attention
How can we save, we have low income
How can we save, we have low income
An environment for people to share ideas &experien
An environment for people to share ideas &experien
People learn more when they are having fun
People learn more when they are having fun
Effective group discussions
Effective group discussions
Poverty in our minds t-shirts/room full of activit
Poverty in our minds t-shirts/room full of activit
Kivazip certificate of appreciation of HFAW
Kivazip certificate of appreciation of HFAW

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Heaalth promoters lead in GBV interventions
Heaalth promoters lead in GBV interventions

Dear Friends, Colleagues and supporters,

Thanks to you, the month of August 2016 was not just an eventful month but a time of discovery. As the mothers traversed through 4 schools, they discovered that they have so much to offer to their community and to themselves. They had completed talks with students at Itumbe, Nyaronde, Mwongoli and Nyansiongo DEB primary schools. There events were scheduled on different days and spread through the month. The women spent a day in each school sharing with both teachers and students on various topics. Their presentations were based on popular education model which is very participatory and involved the teachers and students in question answer, role plays, skits/drama and educational songs on key gender topics. The key topics included discussions about FGM and encouraging the boys and girls to denounce it ones and for all. There were skits about early pregnancies and how girls become sexual prey to young men and especially when they get rides from the now very common motor-bike riders which ply in their neighborhoods as taxis. The health promoters dramatized the now too commonly known story much to the amusement of kids and teachers how ones the girl become pregnant and confronts the owner of the pregnancy, who more often than not will be a  rider rejects the girl saying “Iam not your ATM machine”. This then becomes a reminder to the girl that the money and the rides she has been getting were not for free. In other words, she allowed herself to become pregnant by allowing sex for small money or rides.

The faciliatator explained the message to the girl that in a system where men are not held accountable to their actions, girls end up being double victims and so they should take care and report promptly to teachers and parents if they are targeted by young men.

Some songs and drama raised awareness on child labor and child rights. The topic of child abuse was extremely sensitive to teachers in one school. The teacher on duty knew that the health promoters were visiting. She met the women and literary asked them not to speak to the topic of battering students. She said’ students have to undergo behavior correction using a cane. “If you tell them (meaning students) that they can’t be caned then how shall we discipline them? She appealed.  The health promoters responded humbly that they were discussing the things allowed by the constitution and guided by the child protective policy. They role played on issues of child abuse through so much labor that often stops girls from attending school or excessive beatings which discourage them from coming to school.

The children were so pleased to participate and they were asked to share experiences, and answer questions. They were also given note pads to write what they learnt, what they discovered or what suggestions or questions they had and stick them on the wall. This was very effective way of getting students feedback as they were excited in pinning their answers on the wall. Sampled repsonses include: "I discovered that child labor is abuse of children’s rights"; "I discovered that boy and girl child are equal"; "I discovered that FGM can lead to death and loss of blood";" I learnt that I could abstain from sex in order form  to complete school". Due to the positive outcome and response from the students, teachers in this school requested a separate discussion with teachers to discuss ways of dealing with students which does not necessarily involve corporal punishment. These teachers are also invited to our November training of client centered response by service providers.

Discovering that the schools have come to respect the women’s role in community intervention on GBV issues, FGM, early pregnancies and child abuse and rights transformed the way these women feel about themselves. Karen, one of the health promoters was thrilled when she reported back about the experience when she said; we really have become teachers now,” This comment resulted from more school requests from the health promoters to visit them. We had originally planned to visit two schools but ended up with four schools at the request from the neighboring schools. We still have another 4 school requests pending. We will prioritize them when we find resources.

We realize that the challenges in our community facing the girl child are many and it will take time to fully address them. We however strongly believe that the small incremental steps we are taking to empower the community tackle this issues will go a long way to change minds. We could not have done this without you, our supporters. A community where girls and women are treated as second class citizens is doomed. We invite you to continue to support us, to share information to your family and friends. Your support means a world to the girl in a very rural village and HFAW which works to bring hope to communities. Thank you!

 Sincerely,

Dr Grace Mose- Okong'o

Education through song
Education through song
Health promoter interacting with students
Health promoter interacting with students
Students Giving their views
Students Giving their views
Talk with students early for real impact
Talk with students early for real impact
Positive interaction with students
Positive interaction with students

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Kids given attention during roadshow esp, girls
Kids given attention during roadshow esp, girls

The Kenya demographic survey (KDS 2014) shows that FGM is reducing. In Kisii community however, it is stubbornly high standing at 84% preference. The Kisii community is literary among the top practitioners of the practice, only third from the more remote Somali (94%) and Samburu (86%). The slow eradication trend among the kisii is worrying because compared these other communities, Kisii is not as remote and is not completely illiterate population. But what is really disturbing among the kisiis also is the fact that the FGM victims are quite young, as young as less than five, even two years old. These cannot resist the cut nor do they know the antiFGM law.

That is why the HFAW women in collaboration with antiFGM Board and Villi Bell Foundation organized this roadshow on June 9th, 2016. The HFAW health and human right promoters took it upon themselves to create antiFGM messages and traversed through the hard to reach places in Nyamira and Kisii Counties.  The deep rural areas has seen more resistance to eradication but have also not been sufficiently reached with strong messages.  The KDS indicates that there is 9 times chances of a daughter of an uneducated women being cut compared to one whose mother has completed secondary school. Data also indicates that a girl will undergo the cut if her mother has also been cut—96 times chance as much as if the mother is uncircumcised.

The HFAW women discovered that the roadshow is one of the most effective tool in reaching out to hard to reach places. At times they got off the truck and ran and danced with song and were followed by the crowd. Sometimes the women worked with youth who dramatized the messages. Sometimes it was the mere fact that it is the village women doing the messaging, something that has not been seen before. People expect meeting by professionals in boardrooms and wondered how come now the women have taken this mantle themselves, This caused a lot more concern and more interest in listening to the messages. One woman said loud what was in her poster “not to be cut, my choice” and even translated to the kisii language as “Okwaroka yaya.” This was a crowd puller including many men.  At one moment the HFAW woman was holding a clip of photo with a girl sitting in her big pool of blood. A man moved closer and asked what this was. “Is this from a cut girl”. The women responded with a “yes”.  Several men said they wanted to be registered to join the campaign as they whistled in shock saying “This is completely unacceptable.” On this June 9th we recruited more men to the campaign than we could ever have imagined.

We traversed through over 10 local market places each time met crowds and passed on the messages not just about the effects of FGM but also on the revelation that many women cross the world “do not do this” and that empowered women do not cut the girls. That FGM is criminal offense, that it is antigovernment, that is  total abuse of human rights and handicaps a women’s health. That FGM hurts everybody in the community and that it is not allowed in the bible.

We might not have ended FGM in Kisii on one day, indeed this practice is deeply entrenched in people’s minds. Many people do not even know why they practice it other than “it is our culture.” But his day we caused a stir. Something moved. We could not have done this without you, our supporters. How can we forget some of you who have walked with us every step of the way. Melanie, Carol and Lisa, and others, Thank you!

We want to increase momentum. We have done a series of school campaigns and have others planned to happen soon.  Targeting the young is a great strategy so the message is received early enough.  We also work with community and national leaders. We can speed up process by bringing the message to the community and challenge the many boardroom meetings which are hardly felt at the grassroots. By doing the right things and targeting the community it, giving the community leadership and engaging them directly as we at HFAW are doing. Again, thank you for all your support.

HFAW women in truck passing antiFGM messages
HFAW women in truck passing antiFGM messages
Men were so attentive and a number wanted to help
Men were so attentive and a number wanted to help
Women leaders taking a stand a gainst FGM
Women leaders taking a stand a gainst FGM
People receiving anti-FGM messages
People receiving anti-FGM messages
HFAW Joyce explaining antiFGM messages
HFAW Joyce explaining antiFGM messages
Running and walking outside truck sometimes
Running and walking outside truck sometimes
Crowds hearin gmessages from our youth
Crowds hearin gmessages from our youth

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Group photo of women and youth from 25 countries
Group photo of women and youth from 25 countries

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I have considerable excitement in sharing this report. Because of your donation and support, we have been able to continue training women from other countries in our transformative popular education approach.

During the month of February, HFAW was invited by the Lutheran Secretariat in Nairobi to conduct a TOT training entitled “The Lutheran Communion in Central and Eastern Africa (Luccea) ToT Training for Accelerating Abandonment of FGM/Cut” on popular education to over 25 women and youth from over 9 countries in East and Central Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Eriterea, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Congo and Madagascar. This training was to encourage the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in these countries.

As you might be aware Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is a huge problem throughout many countries and tribes in Africa and also in LUCCEA sub-region where for instance in Kenya it is estimated that out of 42 tribes constituting the nation, only 3 tribes do not practice FGM. The effect on the girl (physical, psychological, emotional, social and economic) is devastating on the girl/woman. It is total abuse of human right and completely strips the girls off their dignity.

 Therefore, the magnitude of the problem is considerable also  in this era where HIV/AIDS is dreaded and attracting a lot of funding but little success in eliminating it. LUCCEA secretariat wanted to find ways of overcoming mere awareness building on the effects of FGM/C but engage strong and new strategies that will end FGM/C. Popular education which has a component of critical conscious raising and whole community participatory engagement and action plans is  providing that answer. Thanks to you who continue supporting us we are able to share this new strategy. The strategy leads to a people who are self driven in addressing problems in their communities.

 The  intensive week of training workshop from February  22 through 28th, 2016 brought  together experts and member churches officers committed to end FGM/C who shared experiences and information from various sub-regions countries where FGM is rampant; learned about popular education approaches; brainstormed strategies that will accomplish campaigns that included local government and foreign partners; created powerful and winning action plans; equipped the women and youth with skills to implement the action plans; established a communication and information sharing platform (network and process) that will allow churches to deal with gender justice issues and children rights as well as embraced a human rights framework that will promote justice for all people.

Our use of simple and hands on practical and participatory approaches as well as making the training interactive with fun, exercises, song and games made the participants demand to hear more of popular education. We also made the training dramatic as we made the participants take hands on practice on how to engage others. We were also visual as we shared real life photos and documentaries of what really happens during the so called “circumcision” and engaged participants in critical questions about those photos and documentaries. Participants felt an urgency to do more and quicker to end FGM/C and also felt that this method will work to end the practice in their countries.

  " It is an idea whose time has come" said one of the participants from Kenya about popular education and ending FGM.. When we used a simple string to show how communication networks can be simplified to allow continuous sharing of this methods, there was such great learning lessons.  "Where has these approach been in the world?." Asked one of the participants from Tanzania.

One Rev from Congo  shared that she had previously been given a book on FGM to read but ignored it as she did not think FGM was significant problem of concern to her as she thought it is not rampant in her country. After this trainings she shared that she felt compelled to do something to learn more and combat FGM no matter which country is practicing it.

 A woman from Uganda was also shocked by some of the extent of FGM, the dramatic impact it has that no one had ever shared with her till this training. “Now I feel  a strong obligation to end FGM whatever it takes.” She said.

There were so many aids which lead to critical discussions including the photo clip of girl who is standing in her pool of blood-Courtesy of Douglas W. Laube, MD and a drama participants worked together to place a stick into a bottle they also learned how to build teamwork and how to create a network of communication with us and themselves—each person is connected to each other during the training and it was expected to happen in real social justice work

 The participants made overwhelming requests for plans to HFAW to provide additional trainings. Requests were made for the LUCCEA office to work with us to support implementation of an action plan and additional trainings in specific countries to ensure that each participant took actual actions in their churches as simple as including FGM issue in church programs. LUCCEA office is working to ensure that we do more trainings and support the implementation of the action plans that each participants created to go with to their own countries.

 That is why we are proud of your support. We know that little consistent steps lead to significant change. We thank you and encourage you to give us advice as we continue to deepen this work. As we spread the popular education methods we do so with a believe that it will end FGM sooner than expected. We request that you share our work with your friends and relatives and encourage them to support this work. Ones again we thank you for your contributions and sharing of our work so widely.

 With gratitude

Grace Mose-Okong’o

Community assessment done by participants
Community assessment done by participants
Hands on and participation is very practical
Hands on and participation is very practical
Participant learns to present to others
Participant learns to present to others
Creating action plans to use in home countries
Creating action plans to use in home countries
Gorup discussion
Gorup discussion
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Karen sharing information on FGM eradication
Karen sharing information on FGM eradication

We have the pleasure to share with you that during the Month of October 2015, the HFAW health and human rights promoters had a rare opportunity to showcase their work to high level global photographer Richard Lord (www.rlordphoto.com), Thanks to the support from the United Methodist Women International Ministries and you. Women were able to showcase some of their economic activities, outreach activities in the shopping center and early pregnancy interventions at St Anne Academy.

Richard took photos as women did outreach to the people in the shopping center and shared information and brochures on FGM. It is so inspiring to witness the women and men talk to the people at the center on the importance of eradicating female genital mutilation/cutting. Kwamboka, who was one of the women in the shopping center who received information shared that “for a long time I never thought that anyone was able to end FGM in Kisii but now seeing how dedicated the educators are I know it will end.” Kwamboka made a request to join the group and be trained as well. We have a long list of women and men waiting to be trained as health and human rights promoters. This just inspires the women on as Joyce shared…”This work has made me realize how important I am in this village; before this work began I didn’t know that people could listen to me.”

Richard had also a chance to interact with the health and human rights promoters about their interventions around issues of gender based violence and the popular education methods which they use. They also had a chance to showcase their educational skids to the youth at St Annes Academy where they are raising awareness to help the children be aware of the dangers of early pregnancies, and their rights as youth and places to report perpetrators. The health and human rights promoters discussed with the teachers who joined the students and one teacher said “we need you to come back; as you can see the students are very interested.” The school head teacher also expressed interest in health promoters going back to do more. “This issue(early pregnancies) is a crisis, she said.

Richard then interviewed some of the participants in the interventions and said he liked “the women’s enthusiasm in doing this work.” Upon arrival back in US Richard wrote about his experiences with us (the women and HFAW staff) saying that we“… were definitely in the top 5 in my 25 years of doing this work. The depth and insight that you provided are very rare when working with development/health etc agencies.” He shared that the product he is developing from the interactions will be out in July August 2016 and we will definitely share with all of you who have been behind this work.

We are in real need to expand the methods and interventions and deepen our work. We are challenged by our limited resources and we are working very hard to overcome this challenge. Your contributions have made such a huge difference and our partnership with the Methodist Women have been of enormous importance. We want you to know that we value your advice and your contributions. Please Make a donation and talk to your friends, family and networks about HFAW and your role in bringing us this far.


Again, thank you so much for your contributions and support.

Health promoters explain GBV interventions to Rich
Health promoters explain GBV interventions to Rich
Dramatization on GBV issues in the community
Dramatization on GBV issues in the community
Alice showing her economic activity/goats
Alice showing her economic activity/goats
People at shopping center watching the skids
People at shopping center watching the skids
Health promoter do edu. skid to prevent pregnancie
Health promoter do edu. skid to prevent pregnancie
Boy interacting with health promoters
Boy interacting with health promoters
This young girl also asking questions
This young girl also asking questions
Interactions with the students on early pregnancy
Interactions with the students on early pregnancy
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Organization Information

Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW)

Location: Nairobi, Kiambu County - Kenya
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HFAW2015
Project Leader:
Dr. Grace Bonareri Mose Okong'o
Nairobi, Nairobi County Kenya
$15,486 raised of $25,000 goal
 
236 donations
$9,514 to go
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