|Strategic Partnerships in Education & Community Development
KSHP arrived at a crossroads this year. Swelling donor participation and program demand required more structure than a part time and volunteer staff in Kenya could provide.
Our Board of Directors faced a decision: do we contain project growth within the limits of existing Kendu Bay personnel - or lay a new foundation with capacity to sustain wider participation and expanded services?
In choosing the latter, we embrace a vision of growth and a commitment to boldly move forward in our mission to provide educational and development opportunities to communities in Kendu Bay made vulnerable by poverty and HIV/AIDS. We're eager to take on a greater role.
Read more in Building Our Foundation for Growth
Kendu Bay parents and community leaders revised scholarship standards during August meetings. KSHP scholarships are viewed as a valuable community resource and community leaders have raised the bar for students. Read more in
Community Adopts New Scholarship Standards for 2010
The moving story of how a school's 7th grade girls poured out of class to rescue a 'sister' classmate from early marriage signals the changes in thinking growing from Girls Club education. Confidence inspired by empowerment lessons, Pier Got girls put ideas into action. Word of their bold act has spread and schools are lining up to join in KSHP's Girls Club movement.
Read more in Christine's Story
Project highlights this summer include a 'Cardio-for-Kenya' special event in a Laguna Beach fitness club, acquisition of an electric generator for our Kendu Bay office, and much more.
Read Project Highlights
Thank you for your partnership in bringing about these marvelous achievements.
Kathleen Dodge, Executive Director
|Building Our Foundation for Growth
Welcome to our new Program Manager, Rodgers Ade, who now anchors our Kendu Bay team. KSHP's scholarship program supervises 64 sponsored students in 30 different high schools. Our Girls Empowerment initiative has undergone massive growth this year thanks to the enthusiasm of local schools and KSHP donor partners.
To sustain and expand these program services, Rodgers brings us needed experience and expertise from his many years of work in rural community development.
Rodgers will head our project in Kendu Bay. Among key undertakings, Rodgers will extend Girls Clubs services to new partner schools in Kendu Bay, co-ordinate our Eco-San latrine building program, and lead a community education and mobilization program.
Rodgers comes to us from Community Health Africa Trust, where he coordinated field activities for health services in three districts in northern Kenya. Prior to this, he worked with Kibera Community Self-Help Project outside Nairobi for eleven years. Rodgers holds a degree in social work with a focus on Community Based Development & Project Management and a certificate of NGO management from Care International. He is married with two children.
We are extremely fortunate to benefit from Rodgers' guiding hand and seasoned perspective as we move forward.
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|Community Adopts New Scholarship Standards for 2010
Community leaders, parents and guardians of sponsored students gathered during school break to define parental responsibilities and adopt new qualification standards for scholarship recipients.
The new standards require increased parental involvement and closer family supervision of children receiving KSHP support.
Students seeking scholarship renewal must also meet and maintain higher standards. KSHP's scholarship program has gained heightened visibility in Kendu Bay since its beginnings in 2005. Available positions are coveted and all eyes are on the performance of those who receive a scholarship.
In 2010, students must maintain a minimum average grade of C+ at the conclusion of the school year and strictly adhere to school rules and program policy.
KSHP scholarship students stand in the community spotlight. Our sponsored students are role models and mentors for hundreds of primary school-aged children.
"By carrying out your duties to study hard and excel in school, you give back a service to the community by being a model that our younger students seek to emulate. You are a project ambassador," states the student handbook.
Kendu Bay leaders respect KSHP donors and sponsors as valued partners in community-building. The community's future leaders will come from among these students and their skills will return benefits ten fold to the community economy. Our scholarship students carry the torch for Kendu Bay's future.
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Kat Gianesin, right, loves her local fitness club, Art for Fitness, in Laguna Beach, CA. So, her club seemed the perfect venue for a KSHP fundraising event: Cardio for Kenya. "Join your friends and neighbors," she invited; and they came in droves.
For two hours on a Saturday morning, club members jogged and cycled and joined step aerobics on the ocean front esplanade. They logged treadmill miles and climbed Stairmaster mountains. And in their fitness marathon and silent auction, Kat's friends and neighbors contributed more than $4,500 to KSHP high-achiever scholarships, HIV/AIDS education, boys and girls' leadership training and young women's health education. Everyone was declared a winner.
"People are so eager to get involved and help," Kat observed. "They're tuned into Africa and all they need is a vehicle - a way to give back. Everyone was thanking me as they gave me their contribution. I was overwhelmed by people's appreciation and I can't wait to do it again!"
Warm thanks to Kat Gianesin and Art of Fitness owners and trainers for donating their time and club facilities to benefit the children of Kendu Bay.
The sale of a heap of photo note cards is credited for Pier Got Primary School's new girls latrine. Now landscaped and painted, the latrine is the talk of Kendu Bay town. In addition to three private stalls, the complex has a shower/changing room, complete with mirror. "Nothing like this has been seen, so the toilet is generating a lot of excitement in the area," says Rodgers Ade, Project Manager. He reports that local health and gender officials were so impressed they paid an official office visit last week. Warm thanks to everyone purchasing 'Kenya Cards by Grace and Shannon' that support the O'Hara sisters' Girls Empowerment initiative. (KenyaCards@mac.com)
A new electric generator installed at our Kendu Bay office last month delighted students who witnessed letters "flying out of the printer" into their hands during term break meetings. Boys vied for the privilege of starting it each day.
The generator answers a critical need for reliable office power to meet the demands of our growing programs. Kendu Bay has no electrical or telephone service and only limited means to recharge cell phones or access email. A generator transforms our KSHP office into a fully functioning community resource. Sincere thanks to members of White's Chapel United Methodist Church, Southlake, TX, for this valuable donation.
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Written by Rodgers Ade, Program Manager
In 2007, KSHP launched a Girls' Empowerment program in Kendu Bay primary schools. The initiative aims to keep girls in school through an enrichment program that combines Girls Club education and the building of gender sensitive latrines. Our efforts are bearing fruit, as seen in the powerful story of Christine Atieno.
Christine is a student at Pier Got Primary School, one of four schools where two American volunteers and our project mentor, Mrs. Opondo, worked to organize Girls Clubs this year. The aim of these school-based clubs is to empower girls through critical thinking, role modeling and health education.
In July, fellow classmates saved Christine from marriage and brought her back to class. Their act of courage and solidarity could not have been imagined one year ago. Local education leaders give credit to Girls Club education for the heightened awareness and self-confidence demonstrated by these girls.
I recently interviewed Christine. Here is her story. . . .
Christine Atieno is a 13-year-old girl in grade six at Pier Got primary school. She is a total orphan, having lost both parents at an age she cannot clearly recollect.
After the death of her parents, she was left under the care of her grandmother. She attended school until last year when difficulties forced her to move and stay with her maternal uncle.
Christine told me that during the first month in her uncle's home she was treated well. She enrolled in grade 6 at Pier Got primary school and life seemed stable, though difficult. The uncle is employed and the uncle's wife works in a local kiosk.
During the second month, however, the scenario changed. Christine's role in the family evolved into that of a servant. She found herself being used as "house help", a common fate for orphaned girls, and as such she was expected to manage all house duties. Demanding house and shamba (garden) chores were assigned and no help was provided. Often when Christine returned home for the midday meal, she would find all food had been eaten, thus forcing her to survive on mangoes, wild guavas and water.
The uncle would come home drunk and beat her without any provocation. Sometimes she would be yelled at, denied food and blamed for all shortfalls. Feeling abandoned and mistreated, there was no one she could turn to who could intervene. Christine found life in her new home unbearable.
One day, as she was going to fetch water, a young man who was already aware of her predicament stopped and asked her for some relation. The man expressed interest in her and praised her for her beauty. She didn't know what to do. At least here is someone ready to show her some care and love.
But something ran through her mind. She remembered her teacher in charge of the Girls Club programme at school, who had cautioned and counseled about of being on the alert for starting a boy/girl relationship. What will happen to her if she accepts such relationship? She had been warned of the possibility of getting pregnant and contracting a disease, including HIV/AIDS. She was still a virgin and yet she was desperate. The man was persisting and with the frustrations back home, she felt happy that there could be someone to express an interest in her. She was somehow lost.
Unfortunately, she was seen talking to the man and upon returning home, the uncle was burning with rage. She was given a thorough beating, accused of being a child prostitute; irresponsible. She was verbally abused and chased from the home, told not to come back again.
This happened in the late evening and she ran away and spent the night with the man who had asked her for friendship relations. He listened to her and was ready to help her. She didn't go to school for two days and stayed with the man.
By chance, some of her schoolmates had a clue she was staying with the man. They reported the matter to the Girls Club student leader and soon hatched a plan to rescue her back to school.
They all headed out from school and went to Christine. They explained to her the importance of going to school and made her to see the sense that she was still too young to get married. She was reluctant to leave, since at last she now had some peace. When the girls realized she was hesitant, her schoolmates physically forced her to go back to school with them.
I learned of Christine's story when the school's Girls Club official came to the office seeking support and direction. Christine is back to school and is ready to continue with her education. The teachers and our KSHP team will extend help and support to Christine in whatever way it is available.
For the schoolmates who chose the path of empowerment, this story is a triumph. Pier Got girls drew together and embraced a sister. But for Christine, the story does not yet have a happy ending. Christine returned back to her uncle's home, where she was told to start looking for a place to live. Her teachers have counseled her and are working to find a way to support her, including a safe place to live. The uncle is still not forgiving and very harsh on her. Nonetheless, she is still in school.
Our small organization does not have the capacity to solve the tangled issues that contribute to stories like Christine's. But we are in position to mitigate their impact and to empower girls to seek and accept support. In the loving and inclusive environment of Girls Club, girls gain awareness of alternatives, where they thought there were none. This we can do to support and empower girls.
Christine's story is not uncommon in Kendu Bay. Orphaned girls, poor girls, see few options in life. "These girls are victims of poverty," says Mrs. Opondo, who has worked on girls rescue missions all her life in Kendu Bay area. "Many of these girls are bright and have a career, but they gradually slow and drop out of school due to hardship and are married off prematurely."
Out of this experience, our Kendu Bay team has launched a Gender Committee charged with the responsibility of dealing with dropouts as a result of pregnancies and home hardship. The committee's aim is to run sensitization programs for parents and girls. The committee will seek to identify and invite successful female professionals from among the local Luo communities for role modeling and discussions with girls about what it takes to succeed. The committee, headed by Mrs. Opondo, believes such steps hold great potential to bring about needed changes in outlook and attitude.
"In Kendu Bay, girls burn themselves at their formative stage," says Rodgers Ade, Program Manager. "Our project has pledged to help them so they may rise like a phoenixes from the ashes. In partnership with stakeholders, we want to see Girls Clubs operating in every school in the district. Our aim is to significantly reduce schoolgirl pregnancies and dropouts through girls' empowerment and health education. Girls Clubs are a vehicle for reaching our girls before it is too late."
What is the observable effect of Girls Clubs?
In 2006, prior to the launch of Girls Club, ten girls dropped out of Pier Got Primary School due to pregnancy or early marriage. Girls Club education in 2007-2009 is credited with the fact that not a single girl has left of school during these years.
Why does this matter? Because. . .
· An extra year of primary school boosts girls' eventual wages by 10%-20%.
· When a girl receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
· When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30%-40% for a man.
If everyone who reads these statistics sends this email to five friends, we as a group could reach every adolescent girl in Kendu Bay for the cost of less than two gallons of gas. Imagine the impact of our choice on all those young lives . . .
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