From Marjorie Mack oludhe’s freedom song ‘Atieno yo!’ and ‘coming to birth, to Maya Angelou’s ‘I know why the caged bird sings’, many writers expressed how the African girl was abandoned and how their rights have never been thought of and infringed, being given the second place in any household after their brothers, to being married off for wealth to older men when they hit their puberty, the African society have for a very long time neglected their girls and used them as property to acquire wealth whenever they deem it necessary. But ‘ring the bells that can still ring, forgetting the perfect sacrifice, there is a hole in every crack, that’s how the light gets in, and this is where Pamoja CBO stems in, to give these girls back their stolen dignity. And as the Kenya continues to evolve and embrace new inventions, girls are given a chance to a more bearable and comfortable life. They are being given a chance they never had, taken to school and be supported throughout without missing some days during the usual month, and being empowered to be resilient, confident and independent when there’s need to be.
Pamoja works with girls from 15-24 years in rural areas, who are identified and enrolled in the program of Dreams girl. From the vision of ‘Happy, healthy able community’ the programs run by the CBO gears towards a healthy community through providing services that leads to sustainable development and HIV prevention through community capacity building, training, education, and provision of HIV prevention services through referral linkages to health facilities. The program through collaboration with Kit Mikayi vocational training offers the sponsored girls the necessary entrepreneurial skills that they apply in their daily lives and start activities that generate income to sustain their lives and economically strengthen them.
Through Dreams girls program, they are educated on behavior change programs, health services through linkages and care treatment, prevention services e.g. Prep and condom education and distribution, contraceptive education-family planning services are offered through referral to other health facilities. And from using blankets to sewn sisal or folded clothes, the CBO provide these girls with sanitary towels every month so they don’t miss any day of their school, being the laughing stock among their peers in schools, the orphan and vulnerable children have gained confidence and are given chances to study and reach their dreams, their fees are provided.
It is well when you teach women ways to having a sustainably developed life where they don’t have to depend on their men or to the ‘serikal saidia’ on long queues waiting for relief food or quick money, the days where women weren’t given opportunities to get education are gone, the girls enrolled in the program are educated and enlightened on the benefits of education and being resilient, confidence in the society and later fight for their place where their counterparts are being given the much needed opportunity that is so much fought for.
Educating a girl is compared to educating a whole community; it is like striking a match when it is much needed, love me when I least need it ‘cause that’s when I deserve it more, educating a child is the greatest investment in all of human deeds, in the future, it will not dissipate, a community that focuses on their children, raising them in the right manner and giving them the education they need, is a community that is saving its future from harm, from human impunity that can be prevented using the knowledge that is acquired through going to school. We are who we are because of someone’s hard work and good thoughts to take us to school, and when we give back the same kind of love to others, we are preparing for a greater future. And educating the children in vulnerable communities is what Pamoja’s major objective is.
“I am here because of Pamoja, they gave me a chance to education when my parents passed on, I knew I wouldn’t go back to school, but one day a lady came to our house and asked why I was not in school and I told her what happened, she went and talked to our head teacher and I was admitted to school once again, and I promised to work hard and change our home, it is them that I am who I am right now, thank you Pamoja for the chance.” This is a testimony from one of the dream girls currently enrolled in Generation training in financial sales services.
And as days go by, more women and girls are reached, enrolled in the program (health, education, mentorship) the communities where they come from are changed from these activities, women are empowered and as a result change is seen in how they interact with their families and the society at large.
BY: Dorine Were (firstname.lastname@example.org)