"On 21st January 2018 I returned from Kitengela, Kenya. This is a small village with slum land approximately one and a half to two hours outside the capital Nairobi. Having been an avid volunteer in Australia and just concluding my Diploma in Youth Work, I set out to visit a new nation and see where my skills could be of assistance for 6 short weeks. When I arrived, I met Giselle a long time pen pal and fellow volunteer.
After two nights in the big city we were greeted by Networks for Voluntary Services Kenya staff and we set out to Kitengela to meet my new host mum Lucy, Agnes from Gihon Womens Empowerment Centre and Erin a past volunteer with a passion for sponsorship of children and families.
The next day we returned to the centre which offers hairdressing and sewing as well as healthy living and a variety of other classes for victims of domestic violence. These classes are held in the mornings and in the afternoons there are therapy sessions for people diagnosed with HIV.
While we were there we noticed that many of the women were hesitant to tell their children that they were carriers of the AIDS virus and so it was decided that as part of the school holiday program we would include a class on Sexual Health and HIV. The aim was to create a conversation and a safe space for the girls to approach their mothers and fathers about the topic.
What happened was completely unexpected! Two of the girls came forward, one who was sick and another who was being sexually assaulted, by a family member. We were shocked and had little avenue to help the girls but we knew we had to do something.
Giselle had previously heard of No Means No (an NGO teaching young people about puberty, rape culture and HIV. They also provide assistance to victims through school based counselling in partnership with safe house programs) and she had contacted the group hoping for their advice and assistance. After visits to a number of schools, we choose Noonkopir as the pilot school. This was where our good friend and colleague Erin has been diligent in building additional classrooms and helping out in the special needs unit by changing nappies, feeding and teaching the kids.
We were very happy when Nancy the manager of No Means No agreed to help, we visited her and the team on a number of occasions to view their presentations and get an understanding about what the program involved. Nancy agreed to use international grant money to fund 50% of the Kitengela program and in addition she donated a few extra teachers.
I am happy to say that this week we received the contracts from Nancy for implementation of the program into the Pioneer School curriculum. It will involve grades 5 - 8, starting in Term 2, 2018. With a favourable outcome No Means No will use the baseline study results to gain funding to implement the program into all the schools in the Kitengela area with any additional funding potentially being used to provide safe houses in the village."
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