“My name is Saumu Kalimbo. I am a form three student at Kiwandani Secondary School. I am very grateful; to the Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu project that has been paying my school fees since I joined form one through the bursaries that I have been receiving.I come from a very large family and with this comes a lot of financial constraints. I have ten siblings and I am the lastborn. Only one of my siblings, my brother, was able to complete high school. While the rest, particularly the girls, were not able to complete their primary education.My brother managed to complete his secondary education by getting help from well-wishers.
My mother died when I was very young, and my alcoholic father does not have a stable source of income.
My school fees struggle begun when I was in primary school. It was very disheartening to get sent home due to lack of fees while my classmates stayed in school continuing with the syllabus. This continued until the head teacher took notice of my plight. She then made my education her priority. The head teacher ensured I completed my primary education by personally paying my school fees.
Unfortunately, that was not the end of my school fees situation. I got called to join a good boarding school, but had to drop out after enrolling due an accumulated school fees balance. I tried to seek help from different avenues. I reached out to my siblings but were not able to assist. I got so frustrated I contemplated running away to Watamu town to look for any means possible to fend for myself.
Later I convinced my sister to accompany me to a nearby children’s home to look for support. It was there that I was referred to Kesho Kenya.
Kesho Kenya took me in. Through their Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu project they rerolled me back into school, something I was giving up hope in. Yes, I may lack a few basic things such as revision books, uniforms and remedial class tuition fees but the biggest burden is off my shoulders, and for this I am beyond grateful. The other things can always be acquired over time and I am fortunate to have understanding friends. They know my situation and they share where they can.
Once I complete my secondary school education, I want to be a lawyer. I believe that I have the necessary skills it takes to be one. I am articulate, I have the confidence to speak in front of a large crowd of people. I served as the head girl of this school for three years.
That was since I joined in form one up until form three, when they appointed another to give time to study for my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE)
I want to encourage other children from needy and vulnerable backgrounds. Sometimes the road to success is very hard. As a girl child, education is our right just as it is for any other child. But we sometimes experience a lot of challenges. You don’t need to be married off in order to access an education like the rest. We need to work harder than most to achieve our dreams and change the narrative. Thanks to WWW I am more motivated, I have a bright future ahead of me, I will press harder to motivate other girls, I will be my older siblings’ role model.
To WWW I offer my sincere gratitude and I’d like to recommend you visit regularly, this really motivates me to worker harder and to prove to you that you did not make a mistake choosing to educate me.”
Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu Project (WWW) was incepted in 2017 with the aim of improving the learning and transition of girls through three pathways; Pathway 1 (PW1): Primary to Secondary Pathway 2 (PW2): Primary to Alternative Pathway (AP) Pathway 3 (PW3): Catch-up classes for re-entry to education. The project works with 55 primary schools, 4 VTCs, 11 Secondary Schools in Kilifi County. To date, 1555 girls have been supported through distribution of bursaries.
“Education alone is not enough to mould a responsible individual in society. Important virtues such as integrity are essential and should be instilled to students while in school through participation in clubs,” says Ali Juma, 22, a former member of the SHINE integrity club from Shariani Secondary School.
Speaking to SHINE’s advocacy officer Costa Kalanda, Ali continued to say, “When students are equipped with integrity and see the impact it has in schools and neighboring communities and how it strengthens the relationship between them and the school when they learn how to identify amicable solutions to problems and improve the learning outcome in general, they embrace it and become ambassadors for the same in society.”
I joined the integrity Club when it was introduced in our school in 2019. Thereafter, I was elected as the vice-chairperson. Despite being in form four, I actively participated in the club activities.
We implemented a waste management project in which we improvised buckets which we placed outside of classrooms so that students would no longer litter the compound and we made it our personal responsibility to take turns in emptying them. This instilled a sense of responsibility in us, by making us responsible for emptying the bin, and the other students, by making them ensure there was no littering this resulted in a conducive learning environment for everyone.
Figure 1; Youth who are members of the Pamoja Act group participating in group discussions and Figure 2; Group members holding a meeting.
After completing my studies, I witnessed the challenges that young people are facing in society, and with no proper guidance on how to counter them, they are sinking into depression and starting to abuse drug substances such as Khat and bhang, they are engaging in crimes to make ends meet. This prompted me to join a Community Based Organization that the local area chief who is also a family friend is in. He, together with the other CBO members who comprised of area chiefs, sub-chiefs, and village elders, agreed to let me in despite the age difference. They allowed me in so that I would gradually learn from them and be able to influence my peers on the right path. The group has a total of thirty members and is currently implementing a project that deals with the prevention of violence among children and another that will sensitize the community on gender-based violence.
Although funds have been a challenge, we still go out of our way to carry out our duties. Our duties include referring cases of child abuse to the respective offices for them to be assisted and sensitizing the of the community on various important issues such as advising victims of HIV/AIDS who have been stigmatized or neglected to accept their status and take their medication. We do this by going door to door. This has worked well for our cause because the community gets a platform in the comfort of their homes to discuss with us the different challenges they face and offer support where we can.
Figure 3; Mwangaza CBO, which Ali is a member of, distributing items to the community.
During one of our home visits, I came across Amina (not her real name) who was so depressed after she was diagnosed with the HIV/AIDS virus. She had been stigmatized by her family and the neighborhood she lived in. I talked to her about accepting her status and seeking treatment, and I also advised her that everything would be fine as that was not the end of life. She got motivated and visited Vipingo Health Centre where she sought treatment.
Figure 4: Ali, during a home visit to sensitize community members against violence against children and gender-based violence
Other than being an active member of the CBO, I have formed a safe space for the youth through a group named Pamoja Act. Here we get to discuss issues affecting the youth and we propose solutions. Given that majority of young people are idle after completing school. Not out of choice but because of lack of funds they are not able to enroll in tertiary institutions.
We started performing short skits to keep ourselves entertained and attract members. So far, we have performed three educational videos to raise awareness in communities about issues such as stigmatization of HIV/AIDS victims, drug abuse, and the importance of Mijikenda culture.
Despite the unavailability of funds we have managed to have 25 young committed members. We meet every Saturday where we sometimes do voluntary cleanups of the marketplaces.
The ability to identify problems and propose solutions with integrity has also enabled me to be an entrepreneur. I believe successful businesses are ones that identify a gap or problem and find solutions for it. I currently work at a cyber-shop where I offer mentorship to one boy just to ensure he is not idle. He assists me in the cyber; he gets money for airtime and is able to meet his basic needs
Figure 5: Youth group member leading the rest in discussing issues
that are affecting the youth.
I also sell women’s shoes. The money from this business has enabled me to pay for computer classes and driving school.
I mentor the club members and motivate them to reach for their goals regardless of the obstacles they face. I want all of them to realize their dreams, and in doing so, I will have accomplished my purpose.
I want to influence as many young people as I can, by reaching out to them in their different areas and advising them. I’d like to run for the Member of County Assembly position in the future.
Other members of the club have are still carrying the legacy high long after school. I know one who is currently in university and volunteers at a children’s home during the holidays.
With the many problems our country, Kenya, is currently facing, the majority of which are caused by lack of integrity would be abolished if we all were members of integrity clubs and we carried this virtue with us after school. Problems such as looting of government funds by leaders, misappropriation of funds/office, and nepotism cases would all be a thing of the past.
I strongly advocate for the establishment of integrity clubs in all schools and in working on ways to pass on the skills to parents during parent meetings, seeing how that knowledge has been impactful in my life.
Figure 6 :Ali mentoring and advising other youths to stop abusing drugs and focus on achieving their dreams and goals
The Students Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality in Education Project has been implemented by Kesho Kenya and KWEA over a period of three and a half years. The two organizations have used the Community Integrity Building model with the aim of getting students to act with; and demand integrity through constructive and collaborative approaches. 107 schools were reached resulting in 4294 students being members of the Integrity Clubs with 513 students assuming leadership positions as the project managed to reach 57160 indirect beneficiaries from both Kwale and Kilifi counties. Additionally, a total of 61 youth groups were established to target students during the COVID -19 break bringing to the core the potential of community based interventions in scaling up the initiative. 548 beneficiaries who could have been at the risk of exclusion are not left out as the project dealt with the associated Gender Equality and Social Inclusion.