One day I had the opportunity to meet with 7 out of 13 members of Uwezo Development Initiative. So far, I had been working closely together with Sifah, Ferdinand and Juliet. This meeting was a good opportunity to get to know the other members and how their association is organized.
They registered their association in August 2014 and act in the fields of child protection, youth, peace and education. The Empowering Young Women and Girls Project is at the moment one of major projects of action.
From left to right: Sifah (project coordinator), Maria (peer educator), Walter (youth leader and peer educator), Michael (psychological chancelor), Ferdinand (project director), Eve (media & communication), me, Juliet (youth leader and peer educator)
Besides training on family planning and entrepreneurship, education on hygiene is also a major issue in the Empowering Young Women and Girls Project. Since all of the young mothers have kids, personal hygiene plays an important role and has to be considered as a matter of course in their daily life.
For this reason Sifah, project coordinator at UDI, trained the young mothers on the importance of personal hygiene and outlined diseases that may result from lack of hygiene, for example concerning teeth hygiene.
Small things like washing hands properly before and after eating and after going to the toilet is important to avoid infections. With a live demonstration the women could strengthen their awareness on the importance of washing hands properly.
As assisting teaching material Sifah used an e-learning on Personal Hygiene developed by Regina Polczer in the framework of her bachelor thesis at Hochschule Karlsruhe.
In my third week Juliet from UDI introduced to me a group of 8 young mothers from Mnarani, the village where I lived, located about 3 km from Kilifi.
It was a getting to know each other and we exchanged our expectations concerning the project. The women’s goal is to do a start their own business, for example, chicken farming. Furthermore, they are very willing to start a soft loan project within their group, which they eventually started later during my stay.
In the framework of the agriculture initiative, the young mothers should be able to start their own farming project. Therfore, it is necessary for them to achieve knowledge on how to start, what is needed and what to do from nursery until harvesting the crops or vegetables.
On April, 26th, a free agricultural training took place in the area. This was a good opportunity for the young mothers and also for me to join. Juliet, youth leader of UDI, went there with 3 of the young mothers from Mnarani, Purity, Kadzo and Elisabeth, and their kids.
The training was conducted by Bayer, a German pharma company. I was new to me that Bayer has headquarters in Kenya and that it markets agricultural products there.
The participants were farmers from around the region that were interested in the topic. The Bayer staff taught about farming tomatos and watermelon from nursery to harvesting and explained which of the Bayer products can be used in which stadium. Although this training for Bayer is a promotion of their products, I think it was really informative for the participants.
The feedback of the 3 young mothers was very positive. They said that they got a lot of helpful information. So, the Bayer training can be considered as a good opportunity to train more of the young mothers on farming.
Today I joined a training on family planning. It took place in Bofa Maweni village. In this session UDI worked together with Kesho, an organization which advances access to education and employment in Kenya.
Walter and Juliet from UDI taught the women about family planning methods. Although I knew that there is lacking a lot of knowledge concerning contraceptives it was still astonoshing to experience that this was really how it is and that there are so many myths and rumors on this topic rooted in the society. There are various factors bringing about these myths about using contraceptives. The male domination in relationships or marriages and also in the society is a strong factor. Therefore, it is really necessary to also include the males and the community in family planning education.
In the session the women were taught on different family planning methods. They got to know about how they function, advantages and disadvantages and how they are used. Also, they saw live demonstration, for example, on how to use condoms. It first raised shame among the participants which showed that it is a taboo topic they are not comfortable with.
In fact, using contraceptives in Kenya is not a matter of cost. All contraceptives are available for free for everyone. The biggest barrier is the knowledge and overcoming the rumours rooted in the community. Additionally, they have to get access to hospitals where they get the services.
Thus, visiting communities in the villages to educate them is a first important and necessary step to make the people aware about the importance on family planning, to stop the rumours and to help them in making decisions.
On 17th April 2017 we hold our meeting with our partners from Pwani University and our partners from Uwezo Development Initiative . Since our project kickoff meeting in September we finished the first project period.
Data collection as a basis for further initiatives
This first project period consisted in collecting data about the targeted women. 43 women have been interviewed by both Pwani and UDI team on their situation and their goals and expectations. Moreover, there have been key informant and focus group discussions in order to get a picture from different perspectives. The results from the data collection will be analysed both qualitative and quantitative. This data is an important basis for deriving suitable initiatives and to measure the future success.
For the next initiatives, we agreed on the following topics and activities:
- An agricultural project with the goal to enable food security and nutrition as well as and provide job possibilities
- the young mothers should be given some land where they can grow crops and vegetables. The products can be used for themselves, the community and for sales.
- Training on family planning for different groups, including the targeted women, their partners, and the community
- This should be done by training the groups in their villages and to give them access to family planning methods in nearby hospitals
Traveling to Kenya meant exploring a completely different culture. In this post I would like to give insights into my personal experiences of my first, 1-week-stay in Kenya.
It was a lucky coincidence that during our stay in Kenya, PWANI university celebrated the 4th graduation ceremony. About 8.000 guests were expected to celebrate the graduation of over 1.000 bachelor and master graduates.
One highlight that wasn’t part of the official excursion was the 2-day Safari I had the chance to take part in. A tour guide took 5 other participants and me in a jeep from Mombasa about 4 hours north into Taita Hills Wildlife Sancuary, a national park in the middle of Kenya.