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Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty

by UMOJA PARTNERSHIP, INC.
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Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Equip rural Kenyan girls to GET UP out of poverty
Sharon with her mom, Helida
Sharon with her mom, Helida

The Girls Empowerment Team of the Umoja Project (GET UP) provides a additional support, education, and encouragement to girls from class 6, 7, and 8 through secondary school and univeristy.  For those in the U.S., GET UP serves middle school on up through college. In addition to mentorship and support, these students also receive sanitary towels which allow them to stay in school each month during their menstrual cycle.

The results of GET UP have been decreased teen pregnacy, increase performance, and increased matriculation to the next level of education for our girls.

Sharon is one of these bright young, beautiful, slight shy females. Sharon is a paternal orphan and a graduate of Lisuka Primary School and Obambo Secondary School. She joined the Umoja Project in class 5 and has received uniforms, a blanket, school lunches, sanitary towels, GET UP programs, secondary school tuition, and now college tuition. She worked with the project between high school and college as a project assistant. (photo below)

She is currently in a diploma program in civil engineering at P.C. Kinyanjui Technical Training Institute. After her first term she was the 2nd best student out of a class of 126 males and females. She was the best overal female student in her department.

Sharon writes. I am very glad and appreciative for this opportunity to narrate my story. I became the first child out of seven to go to high school. I really appreciate the Umoja Project and I wish it could continue helping the needy like us. May God bless those people in USA who provide the funds that help us here in Kenya. I am glad for the opportunity and I hope by God's grace I'll be able to change my life as well as my family's. 

May God bless you people abundantly.

The Umoja family is so proud of you Sharon, we eagerly await your next accomplishment!

Make sure you click the link to what her video recorded at the GET UP Sr retreat!

Sharon with fellow Project Assistants
Sharon with fellow Project Assistants

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Small group photo op with Madame Osango
Small group photo op with Madame Osango

In August I had the opportunity to join our secondary and post-secondary students at the Girl's Empowerment Team of Umoja Project's three day annual retreat. The retreat was held at a school close to the Massai Mara. The girls and the facilitators stayed in the school dorms and we ate in the caffeteria each day. 

The retreat included fun and games, a talent contest, and a game drive. However, the bulk of the time was spent in small groups led by facilitators covering responsibility, peer pressure, sexual health, mental health, and financial health. The girls retreat had five speakers: Madame Alice Osango, Madame Nelly Ndenge, Mural Nyangaga, Olivia Naya, and Mr. Samson Nyarima.

It was amazing to witness the dedication of our staff and speakers. It was inspiring to listen to the youth and witness their many talents in music, dance, speech, and design. Hearing their stories was both heart breaking and awe-inspiring at what they have overcome.

The girls wrote letters to the U.S. side of the project.  Here are a few quotes from those letters.

Since I came to the project I never felt like an orphan anymore. I have always benefitted from sanitary towels, the lunch at primary school, uniforms, blankets, and D-light. I am very grateful for everything. I appreciate your loving, caring, and understanding nature. May God bless you. I also thank you for appointing the staff which are so understanding, faithful, and fair. And to and on top they are very dedicated. May God Bless them. 
– Doreen, Journalism and Mass Communications, Chuka University

The major lesson I learned this summer: the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others.
– Ruth, intern from Maseno University Social Work and Gender Studies Program.

I was sponsored by the Umoja Partnership when I was in class 7 after a very difficult situation when I lost my parents in a road accident which made me very pessimistic about my future. After a sorrowful moment, the Umoja Project sprang into action and I was taken as a member of the beneficiary. At this moment, I promise to work harder. I was taken to high school which keeps the fire burning unto the end to ensure that I achieve my goals in life. 
– Linet, Form 3, St. George’s Sianda Mixed Secondary School

By now, my life has changed and I am no longer an orphan. I have many fathers and many mothers. By now I am a daughter to many mothers and fathers. I am appreciating the Umoja Project for the support they have been giving me and I am enjoying the high school life and also being in this project. The project is admirable. I am glad to be in this project and I am advising and requesting you to continue sponsoring people.
– Lensa 

Umoja has always been a place to be. I term it as a home where lives are transformed. In the midst of the fear of what the future held, confusion and helplessness, Umoja took the burden altogether and my life phase shone once more. I cannot deny the tireless job that is done in Indianapolis just for the sake of them who are like me. 
– Lorite, 4th year student in Business Management, More University

I lost both of my parents when I was one year old. My older siblings also died at a young age leaving me with only my grandmother who struggles to support us with her increasing age. But indeed God has been grateful to me through Umoja project. I was lost in the darkness but Umoja gave me hope, and with Umoja family, I don’t feel like an orphan anymore. Umoja is really like a close and passionate friend to me. Umoja has supported my education through paying school fees, my sanitary towels, lunch program in primary school, uniforms, and foodstuffs for home. I really appreciate the fact that you care for us so much, you are such loving and understanding people. I thank all the Indiana people for their contribution.-annonymous

During my visit, I learned from these young adults that the Umoja Project is working.  The holistic approach of food, clothing, shelter when necessary, education, and emotional support is empowering young people to become independent and provide for themselves and their younger "siblings." These young Umoja beneficiaries are grateful, but most of all they are hopeful for a better life tomorrow. They know with hard work they can achieve their dreams.

Thank you for supporting their dreams!

Hand made garment made from packaging
Hand made garment made from packaging
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Beldine Kephas
Beldine Kephas

The GET UP program consists of two significant parts. During class six through class eight (GET UP JR) girls attend two sessions every term to learn about health, relationships, communication, self-esteem, and so much more. Once our Umoja students get to secondary school (high school), GET UP SR meets twice a year for a one-day conference and a three-day retreat. Topics during this time include a session on sexual health. Pictured above is Beldine Kephas, who always did the talk in this topic area. Girls in both programs receive sanitary towels, so that they don't have to miss school during their menstrual cycle.

The GET UP program has made a significant difference in the lives of the "girl-child" in our project. Since we started this program, we see girls finishing primary school, achieving high marks on the end of school exams (KCPE), qualifying for secondary school scholarships, and even going on to post-secondary education. The teen pregnancy rate has dropped by 80% in our population.

Special thanks to Beldine for her energetic and engaging talks about difficult topics. Recently, Beldine moved out of our project area. She will be missed greatly by our girls and our GET UP mentors. ASANTE SANA!

Your donation supports our girls empowerment program in Kenya, which is making a difference in 700 lives each year. 

GET UP Jr at Bar Union cluster
GET UP Jr at Bar Union cluster
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Sharon and Linda Olasya, Deputy Director of Umoja
Sharon and Linda Olasya, Deputy Director of Umoja

Meet Sharon!

Sharon has been a recipient of the Umoja Project since class 5 primary school. She has received school lunch, uniforms, a blanket, a lamp to study, secondary tuition, a job as a project assistant, and now tuition for her Survey program at Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology in Kisumu. Sharon lost her father in class 3 and as her mother struggle to care for the family, her Aunt was able to take her in so that she attend an Umoja Project school. Sharon says, if not for Umoja Project she would have ended up on the streets.

During my January 2019 visit to the project, I had the opportunity to sit with Sharon and evaluate her progreess in her program. She shared her gratitude for the project and her desire to give back to the community that has given her so much hope. She credits Umoja Project for "molding her into an important person." This December she joined with other Umoja Project Alumni to donate money to provide secondary scholarships for up to two students. She is proud that she is giving back to an organization that has given her so much.

When I asked her what she would like to share with younger students her face lit up when she talked about the GET Up program. Clearly it has made an important impact on her. She hopes to become a GET UP Mentor so she can share the lessons she learned in the program "to focus on the future". Watch the video of Sharon.

Sharon and Denise chat about Umoja Project
Sharon and Denise chat about Umoja Project

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Mawego girls with Leonard, staff and Faith,teacher
Mawego girls with Leonard, staff and Faith,teacher

Each year since 2012, Global Interfaith Partnership’s Umoja Project has provided the Girls Empowerment Team of the Umoja Project (GET UP).  GET UP was born to help bridge the gap between male and female students in the Umoja Project and to offset the cultural challenges of a girl child growing up in rural Kenya.

The GET UP program teaches girls about relationships, dealing with peer pressure, caring for her body, healthy habits, managing menstruation, self-worth, the value of education, career planning and more. Most importantly, it gives these girls from 5thgrade through college a safe place to discuss the issues and concerns of their life. Mentors and counselors can provide the caring support in place of the parents that they have lost. The GET Up program is divided into two groups GET UP JR for Class 5-8 (middle school age) and GET UP SR for Form 1-4 (high school) and university students. The content of the lessons and level is age and level appropriate. The program also uses alumni from the Umoja project as lecturers and mentors so that the girls can be inspired and find hope in seeing someone who grew up in a similar situation and have now finished university training. During my June visit, I was able to view a Kenyan nurse give a talk about sexual health and it was truly the best talk I have ever seen on the subject. She made the audience laugh without detracting from the seriousness of reproductive health. All the teachers and mentors in the project are Kenyan.

Since the program began in 2012, we have seen girls finish school at a higher rate, increased performance on end of primary school KCPE exams, and drastically lowered pregnancy rate. The Umoja Project used to have 2-5 students get pregnant and drop out of school every year. There has only been 2 in the last 5 years.

Our students in Kenya are working hard to complete their education in spite of ongoing challenges. Umoja students have lost one or both parents and often care for younger siblings or ailing relatives. Most lack basic necessities, such as food, clothing and hygiene products. Yet, they are often top performers at school. In 2017 at Marera Primary school, for example, there are four  Umoja Project students in the top six: the position one and three for the boys and positions 2 and 3 for the girls.These students cite the support of Umoja Project for giving them hope and encouragement through difficult times. The girls say the GET UP program gave them the extra support they needed to compete against the boys.

Here are some quotes from Mawego Girls School’s Umoja scholars related to the GET UP program:

Anytime you step out you never know whom you are going to meet. It may be an old friend. It may be someone you are going to marry or a stranger who is going to change your life in an unexpected way. I stepped out and met Umoja and GET UP really changed my life  - Annette, Form 4

 

To obey us better than sacrifice. It is through obedience that GET Up has instilled in us the we have reached this far.  – Candy, Form 4

 

Light comes to the task when many share in that task. – Melvin, Form 4 

 

GET Up provides the light so that we may tread carefully into the unknown. -Monica, Form 4

 

Thanks to our Global Giving donors, Sunrise Book Club, and St. Luke's afternoon book club we are able to continue to offer this most valueable program.

 

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UMOJA PARTNERSHIP, INC.

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana - USA
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