March 8th is International Women’s Day. We choose to recognize Aisha, a 43-year old student of our Adult Literacy Class for being hardworking, outstanding, and relentless. Aisha who spoke to us says she was denied an opportunity to go to school at a tender age due to sibling rivalry. Despite these circumstances, she has risen above the obstacles and is now getting an education. Below she tells her heartwarming story.
“For me joining the Adult literacy Class was a dream come true. I had wanted to join the class for a very long time but my plea was faced with endless obstacles. I dropped out of school in class four when I was just eleven years old. With the help of my sister, I sought Mama Zena who helped me with the enrollment process and I joined class early last year.”
Why she went back to school
“I want to get an education that will enable me to get a well-paying job. I have been doing casual jobs from a tender age whose pay was meager. I was also insulted and disrespected at the workplace. Besides, such kind of work generally makes you a slave always depending on others with nothing of your own.”
First day of class
“On my first day of class, I came in just like a young girl who has her first day in school. I was shy and a bit nervous. I joined the other young women in the class. With time I adapted and was comfortable learning.”
“I desire to get educated because I was denied this opportunity when I was young. Even when the government ordered schools to be closed in March, I would come to the Kesho Kenya resource center to read by myself because even if I stay at home there is nothing am gaining. This is what wakes me up every morning to attend class without giving up. My sister also supports me at home with school work. She encourages me to keep studying to achieve my goals. I sometimes fall sick, and I have stomach ulcers. But all this does not prevent me from continuing my studies.”
Plans for the future
“I want to complete my primary school and proceed to secondary. I could even imagine proceeding up to the university level if I get the financial assistance. Thereafter, I want to empower other women to access education in my community.”
Inspirational message to other women
“I urge other women don’t wait, Seek if you want something, just like I sought for education. Be courageous because being afraid won’t help you. In addition, seek an education because, without it, life is very difficult. I wasn’t even able to load airtime on my own. Getting to a place was hectic because I couldn’t read. Thus, am very grateful to Kesho Kenya for giving me a second chance at life through education.”
Able to read and write in English
Santa, her instructor describes her as a bright, hardworking, and vibrant individual. “Amina is now able to read and write in English. Her determination to get herself a well-paying job has been her drive. Most of my students have goals that they want to accomplish.”
The Adult Literacy Class began in 2015. To date, a total of 174 learners have enrolled for class of which 12 have registered to sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE ). Intake runs throughout the year. A class session begins from 9 am until 11 am. A professional instructor who is paid by the national government conduct the lessons. The tutoring is free of charge.
Meet 24 year old Celestine, a beneficiary of the Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu IGA Start-up KIT. Here is how the IGA kit has impacted her life;
Her business has been booming since its inception in November .She sold out the materials she had and restocked ‘I have very many customers and my mentor advised me to bring lesos and sell to them so as to get additional income since they sell very quickly’’. ”The stock you see I brought in last week and now only few pieces are remaining.”
Difficulties to make ends meet
Before becoming a beneficiary of the IGA Start-up KIT, Celestine’s life looked very different. She is the lastborn in a family of 5. After completing her tailoring course at Gahaleni polytechnic, she stayed for 2 years at home since she did not have funds to start her own tailoring enterprise. She sought
for a casual job at a nearby shop which brought in very little income. She did this so that she could make ends meet and save up some money. Things changed when Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu (WWW) came in and gifted her with a sewing and over lock machine, and fabrics to start boost her business. “I am very grateful to the WWW project because when we started I never imagined I would get here , it has always been my plan to call the project team so that we can celebrate my milestones together.”
As last born daughter supporting the family
Celestine has managed to construct her parents a brick house out of the savings she got from her business. ‘I have invested like Ksh 20,000 to buy sand, cement and metal for the house. My father does the construction.’ Her parents are farmers and the father who spoke to us says, ‘’am very grateful for what my daughter has done. I don’t have a job and same for my wife. Our last born daughter really supports us as a family’’
Mentorship and future goals
Every business has its own challenges and Celestine’s is no exception ‘At times customers are very impatient, so when their clothes are not done on the agreed timelines, it brings chaos. An example was over the Christmas holiday when there was a lot of business. In order to solve this I ask my customers to bring in their orders early so that I can sew them in good time before the Christmas rush.’’
‘’My role model is my sister who teaches me how to sew men’s clothes, and after I have learnt I will get my own place. She has also started to mentor other girls in her home area. ”I have a girl who asked me to teach her how to sew. This was after I stitched a dress for her and she was impressed.'”
Celestine also sews masks and sells to students of the nearby primary schools at either Kshs30, 40 or 50.To those that can’t afford she gives them freely. ‘’Because I was helped, I help too….’’
Celestine’s plans for the future is to go to Malindi, buy another sewing machine and employ somebody to work there. She is already saving up for that course.
She advises other young girls to emulate her and join TVETs to get expertise…
In 2020, our Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu project supported 16 TVET beneficiaries with Income Generating Activity (IGA) start-up kits. This was in a bid to kick start individual businesses that would generate income. The kits included fabrics, sewing & overlock machines for tailors and blow dry, dryers and other essentials for hair dressers. To assess their progress, we visited four beneficiaries with established tailoring businesses.
Every child deserves to be brought up in a loving, and kind home. Most children, growing in orphanages, do not get to experience parental love and care until after they are adopted.
Trizah is a middle aged mother of two, whose love for children is unending. Motherhood for her stretches beyond biological ties to anyone who raises and brings up a child into a responsible being. She adopted two daughters one staying away from her as she is over eighteen and is trying to make ends meet. The younger one is a six year old whom she adopted while she was eight months. She placed her request to adopt a child and was able to get one after two years. Her dream of adopting a child had become a reality.
What were the requirements for adoption?
I first visited an agency in Mombasa, and underwent a pre-counselling session as they wanted to establish my intention for adoption. Thereafter, filled out a very detailed form costing Ksh. 1,000 on my background, and financial information. Had to get two referees to vouch for my character, skills and abilities. I then underwent several medical tests before being on the waiting list to be placed with a child.
How was the experience for you?
It was lengthy, although my case is different as the laws were changed mid way. This then meant I had to restart the whole process afresh. I had made up my mind on adopting a child and I made sure I attained that. The baby was brought to me at seven months for us to bond, and “Maua” (name changed) officially became mine at eight months.
What was the reaction of your friends and relatives about the adoption?
If I were one who views life through the lengths of other people with negative perception on matters particularly adoption, I never would have adopted my bundle of joy. My friends and family were so much against the adoption stating that the child may become rebellious once grown, but all this reactions fell on a dead ear. I always told them, a child is a clean slate; you deposit into their hearts and character as you raise them. Therefore, raise them prayerfully.
How was your first experience as Maua’s mother?
It was beautiful. Maua did not have any problems adjusting or fitting into my social space. I am above all grateful to my church support group that stood by me through it all and prayed with me. The first few months, we struggled with her immunity and were in and out of hospital, because she didn’t suckle. Again, I was mentally prepared for it all. Good thing with Maua is that she isn’t selective when it comes to food, she eats everything. Children reciprocate what they receive, when they are loved unconditionally, they love back endlessly, the same applies to Maua.
Does Maua know she is adopted?
I always want her to know that she is adopted, because I would rather she hears it from me, than from someone else. Whenever, I bring up the adoption conversation, Maua is always disinterested, but this is a conversation I will continue having with her and give her ample time to adjust and come in to terms. I want to be involved in every stage of her life.
What is your feeling towards Maua tracing her roots after she is grown?
When she will be grown and starts, tracing her roots, I’m praying that God gives me a heart to walk with her while doing it. I know I will be hurt, but I want to do what is in her best interest. To me, Maua will always be my daughter.
What challenges have you experienced in raising Maua?
The birth certificate application process was a hustle because we were not through with the adoption paper work. When I was enrolling her for school, it was quite hectic because she did not have a birth certificate and needed to apply one for her. Two schools could not admit her. It is my wish, that when the government formulates rules, they consider different circumstances like those of adopted children.
What would you suggest to be done differently, in matters adoption?
I’m not sure they have constituted a children adoption committee. I kind of feel, matters adoption are not given urgency like the way other matters are given. Children officers should be motivated because they are dealing with a vulnerable group and it is only fair if they are well compensated and supported fully.
We would like the government to consider having an adoptive parent in the children’s committee as we will know that someone has our voice.
Any word for anyone looking to adopt a child?
I would like encourage anyone thinking of adoption. They need to do a self audit to be sure that they want to adopt and be sure that it is what they want. Once, decided, they should turn a deaf ear to the society’s opinion and stigma associated with adoption. We have a support group called “adoptive parents” and would encourage them to find one and enroll for support.
I would also like to call out on married couples and single men to adopt children as we have so many boys unlike girls in orphanages waiting for people to adopt them. Single ladies should also come out to adopt, although baby girls are not as many as boys in the orphanages and singles cannot adopt children of the opposite sex. Let us give these children a home to grow up in and not leave them in orphanages.
“We support adoption because we advocate for every child to have a family which brings a sense of identity”, says Caroline Boraya, Project Officer, Changing The Way We Care project at Kesho Kenya during an interview.
What does adoption mean for a child?
Caroline Boraya: “It means hope, a home to grow up in, with a loving and nurturing family for steady growth and development.”
What is adoption?
“Adoption is a legal process by which a child becomes the child of individuals other than his or her biological parents.”
How open are Kenyans to adoption?
“Many people shy away because the of administrative process, and the fees connected to the legal process are too high for them. Additionally, Kenyan society still has a negative perception towards an adopted child. They see them as outsiders, especially when it comes to questions of inheritance and succession. Adoption is a grey area; due to cultural reasons, people are afraid of speaking up to avoid being marginalized.”
Is it difficult to adopt a child in Kenya?
Adoption means for a child to have a sense of belonging, security and identity.
“Yes and no. When you make your mind up, you need to be ready to go through a long process which takes at least 6 months. You need to have the financial means and a lawyer. A registered adoption society can take you through both legal and social processes.”
Any other requirements? “If one is single, one can adopt when they are between 25 and 65 years old. A couple that wishes to adopt must have been married for at least three years. Before the adoption process starts, one needs to reveal their social status, family background, health, living standards and must notAhave been convicted of any criminal offenses.”
.Where can those interested in adopting a child get advice from?
“They can go to any children office at the Sub County level. They can also explore various adoption agencies in Kenya.”
Your last remarks to those considering adoption?
“I would wish to encourage anyone looking to adopt to contact an adoption agency and start the process so as to give most, if not all children a chance to belong to a family.”
Research shows that children who grow up in orphanages are harmed in numerous ways. They are more susceptible to violence, abuse and exploitation, and their physical, intellectual and psychological development is delayed. At the Coast of Kenya, Kesho Kenya is an implementing partner in the Changing The Way We Care (CTWWC) initiative which seeks to educate and advocate for Family Based Care. Rose is one of our beneficiaries.
Rose is 12 years old and from a family of 5 children. She is a total orphan and was left in the care of her grandmother. Her family which still has other children to take care of, placed her in an orphanage. She has been staying in Mother’s Vision Children’s Home since 2015. Her family hoped she would be able to access better nutrition and education for her to finish her studies.
Assessments to identify needs
COVID 19 saw many Charitable Children Institutions (CCIs) close down and children sent home. Rose was among the children who were released from the CCI and went back to her grandparents’ home. CRS through the Local Implementing Partner Kesho Kenya has been supporting Rose and her family for the past weeks. The Kesho Kenya social worker conducted child, family and community assessments to identify what support Rose and her family may need and the services that are available or are needed within the community.
Cash transfer, household items and personal items
CRS provided Rose’s parents a cash transfer to cater for critical household needs combined with livelihood training to improve their home and living conditions through income generating activities. The care givers also received cash transfer which they used to purchase food for the household as well as panties, sanitary towels, body oil and a pair of shoes for Rose. The rest of the money was used to boost their fire wood business so as to increase the daily family income.
The family also plans to start Chicken rearing business, and they already have some chicken to start with. They asked for assistance in building a store for their firewood and a chicken coop. Rose was also signed up in the National Health Insurance fund (NHIF) for medical support that will also benefit her grandparents and their child who is under the age of 18.
From distressed to cheerful
The caregivers reported to have noted a great improvement on Rose. At the start, she was very distressed returning back home from the CCI, She sat alone, lost in her own thoughts, and refuse to mingle with other children in the household. The teacher was called in several times to counsel her but she did not respond or get better. The care giver noted that when we started engaging her, coming for follow up visits, giving cash to the family and a dignity pack to her, she lit up and became cheerful. She said that if the economic status of the family can change by being supported to achieve economic empowerment, she will not go back to the CCI.
Changing The Way We Care is working with the government, civil society, and other non-governmental organizations in Kenya to begin the process of changing the culture of orphanages throughout the country. Changing the Way We Care promotes safe, nurturing family care for children reintegrating from residential institutions and prevents child-family separation by strengthening families, reforming national systems of care for children, and working with others to shift commitments and conversations in support of family care.