Meet Francis Nyamawi, Graduate Assistant at Kesho Kenya.
Francis, tell us something about yourself.
My name is Francis Nyamawi, I am 23 years old and I live with my family in Kilifi. I am the sixth born in a family of eight children. I am a big fan of books especially historical storybooks and I love music a lot.
You are currently working as the graduate assistant at Kesho. Your relationship with Kesho started much earlier, tell us something about it.
I got to know about Kesho when I was in class eight through a schoolmate. After I received my KCPE results, I took the initiative and applied for a sponsorship at Kesho. I was so happy when I heard that I qualified and in 2012 I joined Agoro Sare High school in Homa Bay County. That was exciting as well as challenging for me. For the first time in my life I was away from my family and it could take me 12 hours to reach school. After four years of hard work and dedication, I was happy and proud to get mean grade of A- (minus) in the KCSE result 2015. This could not have happened if it were not for the enormous support from Kesho organization. Kesho also gave me the opportunity to participate in various trainings such as IT, Leadership, Reproductive Health and Frist aid. And sometimes it is just about having fun. We participated in the triathlon where Kesho students with various talents turn up and run, swim and cycle. I want to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to Kesho and all who have contributed towards my success.
Why did you apply for the position of the graduate assistant?
I applied for this job not just to get allowances but also to give back to the community. It is great to be part of the Kesho family. This job will help me be a responsible person in future. Through the various interactions I have in the office with different people I learn a lot. I sincerely believe that by doing this job, I will be able to inspire other Kesho students that they can do better than I did it. I believe that the future of a person belongs in his/her hands.
What are your duties as the graduate assistant?
I have a wide range of tasks. I offer guidance to both students and parents who come to the Resource Centre at the Kesho office. I am in a position to give information to parents who look for sponsorship support to their children. I type, scan and file documents what helps me improving my computer skills. Sometimes I run errands outside the office by depositing cheques or collecting letters at the post office. I also take care of the library and issue books to the students. Working at Kesho is never boring since we have many visitors coming to our office. I get to meet a lot of people.
What are your plans for the future?
I am planning to pursue law at the University in September 2016. My dream is to become an excellent lawyer in the future.
Why do you want to become a lawyer?
During my upbringing a saw a lot of injustice or let me say inequality. Because of those experiences I developed a strong sense for equality. By being a lawyer I would like to contribute to a society where nobody experience injustice.
According to the WHO, “Child abuse or maltreatment is broadly defined as constituting all forms of physical and or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
Poverty has been sited as one of the contributing factors to continued practice of child abuse. The poverty hypothesis is based on competing rights; that is basic rights vis-a-vis child rights. It is perceived to be unintentional and inevitable thus not termed as abuse especially if the poverty level is widespread within the community. This perception has contributed to specific forms of exploitation such as neglect, child labour, child prostitution, child marriage and child trafficking.
Cluster group is a concept premised on bringing vulnerable and marginalized women and men who reside within the same region in Kilifi County with intent to empower them with knowledge and skills on matters of child abuse, risk factors, and economic empowerment using innovative approaches.
Soyosoyo cluster group is a community Based Organisation that has been in existence for the last 1 year. It has a membership of 10 who all reside at Kiwandani, Kilifi North area. Women make up the majority of the members, through the guidance and constant follow up from Pamellah Choni (Assistant Child Protection Officer) they have managed to develop a constitution, learn skills on proper record keeping this includes financial records and minutes. Additionally they have gone through various trainings in regards to child protection and family
support. Cluster group concept has provided safe space for parent to discuss sensitive matters that pose risk to increase child abuse in their communities such as domestic violence.
They use the table-banking concept to save their weekly membership collection, from their savings they have managed to collect enough capital to start up Makuti making and selling business, however it was seasonal and by September they were recording poor sales, they made a decision to engage in farming. They rented a two-acre land and with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture, they underwent trainings on Kilimo bora (best farming practice). They were given cassava tuber and greengram and cowpeas seedlings to plant.
Their commitment has seen them reap well. Currently harvesting green grams and cowpeas that they intend to keep part of it for family consumption and part for sale.
For the group members their achievement is not only the good harvest but the fact that, they can make decisions at home and in the community, provide basic needs for their children as such their children have time to play and go to school as they do not need to work to supplement their parents income and they foresee food security if their crops continue to flourish.
It’s been a pleasant journey working with Wendy Buddin.
3 years in a row she has been facilitating our annual ECD teachers training on Literacy Development. This year the theme of the workshop was to train teachers on how to teach language through stories specifically Vocabulary & sentence structure. This was a continuation of her previous trainings on Phonics and methodologies of teaching literacy at early graders classes.
Wendy co-teaching with Charity Kaluki (program officer basic education)
Teachers participating in a game during training
The teachers participating are from 10 different public Nursery schools within Kilifi County. In 4 of these schools Kesho is running a literacy programme whose objective is to assist struggling readers to improve their reading & comprehension skills.
Teachers and their facilitatorsAdditionally we also model good teaching practice through co-teaching sessions with teachers in our outreach schools. Wendy for the second time attended one of these sessions where she taught fruits and animal names through a story titled Handa’s surprise.
Wendy and Carity during a co teaching session at Kibaoni primary school
The storybook used during the training
Last Friday I had the chance to talk to 61 youth (23 young women and 38 young men) from Kilifi County. It was a very enriching and interesting experience.
The KEMRI school engagement Programme organized an open day* for students who topped 2015 O-level exams in Kilifi which is a scheme to expose Kilifi students to research related careers and it made us all proud to see 4 Kesho students among the participants.
KESHO Organization was honored to be invited by KEMRI-Kilifi to give a presentation on KUCCPS (Kenya Universities & Colleges Central Placement System and HELB (Higher Education Loans Board) during the school leaver’s attachment Scheme (SLAS). This was an opportunity to meet and motivate Kiifi’s best performing students.
I gave my presentation the title ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’ because I wanted to encourage my audience that there are no limits and that everything can be possible. The focus on my presentation was the importance of having the right documents and information for making reviews on courses that were preferred. I took the students through the registration and application process for KUCCPS and HELB.
This was also an exciting forum for the students to network with their peers, share experiences about after school life. It was also encouraging to see that some students took the chance to engage with the different facilitators and to tap on their knowledge and expertise.
A Friday afternoon well spent. Best Wishes to the Students and Thank you KEMRI for giving me such an amazing opportunity.
* During the open day students are selected through a face-face interview, to spend 3 months at KEMRI on a work experience attachment during which they will get an opportunity to meet different career mentors and learn about experiences from different types of careers related to research.
Anastasia Mbeyu is 39 years old and lives with her three children in Kilifi town. She also takes care of the child from her cousin who is in the Kesho sponsorship program. From Monday to Saturday she sells Mitumba (second-hand clothes) at her shop situated in Kilifi town. In 2014 she joined the group Makinika, a cluster group established by Kesho.
Anastasia, you are a mother and an entrepreneur at the same time. How does a normal working day for you look like?
After getting up early in the morning I prepare tea, which I carry to my shop. I make sure that I open the shop at 8am to be ready to receive the first customers; I attend to customers till 6pm and ensure that my merchandise is well arranged and can attract customers. Sometimes my children pass by the shop and keep me company. Usually I close my shop at 6pm and then it is time to go home and prepare dinner for my family.
How did you come up with your business ideas?
My first business was selling ‘viazi karai’ (potato dish) which I did for one year. It was a challenging business; the price of the potato was fluctuating and made it difficult to maintain a good profit margin.
Later on friends introduced me to the Mitumba business and got me stock to start with. I started that by selling clothes from door to door and after six months I opened small shop (Kibanda, open structure) and stopped the door-to-door business. That business did well but I faced a number of challenges; the Kibanda did not give enough protection from rain and dust and due to security I had to carry all clothes every morning and evening to a store. Through loans from Makinika and Tujijenge (group saving and loan scheme) I was able to buy more stock and further expand the business; I now have customers who buy in bulk. A few weeks ago I was able to open this new shop, it is a permanent structure and I am not challenged by rain and security anymore. Additionally I attended the soap making training organized by Kesho I started selling soap. It is doing well and supplements my existing business well since the profit margin is also favorable.
Anastacia(far left) with her group members
How does your businesses support you and your family? What challenges are you facing?
The business sustains my children and I. I’m able to cater for their school fees and for Kesho sponsored child I can now comfortably shop for him. I have an opportunity to save money on a regular basis, ” they call it saving culture”. This means when my last born joins secondary school next year I will be prepared, through my business and loans from the Chama groups I will be able to pay for the school fees and definitely provide for my family needs.
The challenges I have at the moment are customers who do not pay as promised or customers who order in bulk and do not pick up their merchandise that then reduces its value as well as the liquidity.
Anastacia and Pamela Choni (Kesho Assistant Child protection Officer)
What role does Kesho play in your life and your business?
Through Kesho I have learnt a lot about child protection and how best I can protect my children and other children in my community additionally I talk to other parents on matters of child protection. The soap making training opened a new business avenue and the possibility to access loan through the cluster group that has boosted my business. Though I am able to take care of my children and myself I cannot cater for the school fees of my foster child and therefore I am grateful, Kesho has stepped in with the sponsorship program. The boy can now access school and the community around him sees the importance of education.
What are your future plans for your family and your business?
It is my wish that my children finish school successfully and get good employment. Other than that I dream of having my own piece of land where I can build a small house for us and we do not have to pay rent anymore.