Girl Power!

Girl Power!

Pendo is back at school and showing us what she is made of!

Pendo is back at school and showing us what she is made of!

You need to be living under a rock these days to not hear about International Women’s Day, it is all over the news and social media. Whilst we are a little late to the party, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to the girls on our program and women in Kenya generally.

I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone to know that in Kenya the expectations of girls can be vastly to different to those of boys, but do we really understand just how different and what those expectations really are. And more importantly, what is Milele’s role in all of this.

According to Unicef statistics, in the period 2000-2012 the percentage of adolescent males currently married was 0.4%, compared with 12.1% of girls. This is a staggering difference and a stark reminder of the glass ceiling that faces many of the young girls in Kenya.

To be clear, we at Milele we are in no way against our girls settling down, getting married and having children. If that is their choice, and that is the key word, choice. It is such a small and simple word yet it holds so much power. Pendo has definitely taught us this lesson and we have realised first hand how powerfully she wanted to be a mummy; and she is excelling at it!

The Oxford Dictionary defines choice as “the right or ability to choose”.   This is what we want for all of our children, and not just the girls. To have their lives opened up to the possibility of choosing.

Linet and her beautiful baby girl.

Linet and her beautiful baby girl.

As a mum of two girls living here in the UK, I often feel like I am battling a glass ceiling that society is covertly putting in place when my back is turned. My eldest daughter said to me a few years ago “mummy we can’t read that book, it is about cars and so that is a book for boys.” To which I took a silently took a deep breath and kindly pointed out that there was no such thing as boys’ books and girls’ books, they were all simply books and anyone could read them. Fast-forward 3 years and that same daughter recently picked up a book that said ‘Stories for Girls’ and said to me “Mummy, this should just say stories for children and not just girls”. I beamed with pride and my inner feminist did a little whoop!

If my daughter is growing up in a household where we have cars, dinosaurs, dolls, teddies, beads, and tools and she can still feel the impact of society telling her that stories about cars are for boys, then it is hard to imagine living in a society where these views are entrenched, particularly in the more rural communities.

So, what is the solution, and how do we give our girls that choice that we were speaking about earlier? The key to these almost impossible questions is education, education, education.

Building positive male models is also really important, and Riziki and Rieder have formed a lovely bond.

Building positive male models is also really important, and Riziki and Rieder have formed a lovely bond.

In a country where education is not a given and comes at a price, the education of boys can all too often be prioritised over the education of girls. After all, the men are going to be the ones going out to work, and you don’t need an education to get married and have children. This is where choice comes in. If our girls are educated to the same standard as the boys, and see different possibilities in front of them, then who knows what may become of them. Maybe they will still settle down and have a family, maybe they will get a job in a bank, maybe they will become a teacher. Ultimately, we do not know what they will choose, but we will do everything in our power to make sure that it is a choice that they have the luxury of making.

We are incredibly proud of all of the girls on our program, whether this is Josephine going to secretarial college, Ummy acing her KCPE exams, Amina regularly achieving results of 90% in maths or Pendo showing us how she manages being a mummy and being at school; we could not be more proud of each of their individual achievements and are excited to see what the future holds for each of them.

Emmanuel's Journey to University Graduate
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Ordinarily Milele sponsors young children beginning at their primary education, however there is one exceptional young man who broke all the rules.

Back in 2010 we had worked with Emmanuel at his primary school, with Rich in particular developing a great relationship with him after teaching some maths lessons at the school. Emmanuel would arrive before everyone else in the morning and was the last to leave at night. He came in to study on weekends and holidays, even when the school was officially closed! He repeatedly asked Rich to set him extra homework questions even after he had completed an entire textbook worth of practice questions!

Generations of Emmanuel’s Family all live together in a rural village

Generations of Emmanuel’s Family all live together in a rural village

Despite being exceptionally hardworking, Emmanuel’s family are not financially able to afford school fees. Living in a remote rural village, Emmanuel’s father works his land to feed the very large extended family. In addition to this, just as Emmanuel started his final year of secondary school his family had some very bad news. After losing his two year old sister in a fire accident, his mother was also diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Despite receiving treatment, she tragically passed away in December 2010.

Emmanuel and his family value education above all else, and indeed his mother sacrificed the money saved for her operation in order to enable Emmanuel to attend the first term of secondary school and continue achieving.

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Built his own house

Emmanuel (on the right) with his father, brother and little sister outside his house.

Without your support to achieve his dreams, Emmanuel would never have had the chance to attend any form of education beyond primary level and his future would have been restricted and far too predictable – what a waste of a hardworking, dedicated and passionate young mind.

In September 2014 Emmanuel became the first on the Milele Programme to go to University – beginning a BSC in Economics and Statistics at the University of Nairobi. The University of Nairobi is the best university in Kenya and 7th in Africa. Emmanuel has performed really well in his first semester receiving A grades for some of his varied modules averaging a top B grade over his 8 modules.

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Starting out

Emmanuel starts his University journey

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Now a proud graduate

4 years later with a degree in Economics and Statistics

A degree level education has opened doors for Emmanuel which no-one in his family has ever been able to access. His future is bright and exciting and most importantly he has choices and control over his life.

We are very excited to announce that after four hard years the 21st December 2018 saw 'Big' Emmanuel graduate from the University of Nairobi with a 2.1 degree in Economics and Statistics! His dad attended his graduation along with Rieder and we as you can see from the photos attached he was quite rightly glowing with pride. They all went out for a meal together afterwards to celebrate his success and had a fabulous day. 

No-one could be more deserving of a degree. Our first graduate of the Milele programme, Emmanuel gives us all a reason to be proud and proves what Milele is here to do.

Emmanuel is a trailblazer and an inspiration – he shows us all that with determination, perseverance and big ideas we can achieve anything.
Rieder's Trip to England

Our co-ordinator Rieder has just landed back in Kenya after a wonderful 3 weeks here in the UK. We asked him to write a brief update for the website to share his experience and some of his highlights from his trip with you. 

"I was happy to see Amy and Rich on my arrival, despite being a long journey. Amy and Rich managed to organise a lot of training for me and that was really important in my work. 

I learnt a lot of new things I can use in my job from each training and also met some of the sponsors, which was really good for me to share with them about the kids they sponsor and their families.

I had good times throughout my stay in the UK for those three weeks. I was really pleased to see how people were kind to me. ” 

While he was here in the UK we were able to organise the following training courses for Rieder, all with qualified professionals or specialist organisations. All were excellent teachers and all provided fantastic opportunities for him to grow and develop:

  • Building Resilience with vulnerable families

  • Adolescent relationships, Contraception and Sexual health

  • IT - maintenance and troubleshooting

  • Safeguarding Children

  • Organisation and Time Management

  • Group Dynamics and running a successful youth group

  • Working with vulnerable young people

  • Education and non-traditional learning styles and techniques

  • Business mentoring and developing a Business Plan

  • Play and Interaction with 3-5 year olds

THANK-YOU to all the contributors and everyone who made this training possible for him - it will have a hugely beneficial impact on Milele in the years to come.

Rieder speaking at the 10 Year Celebration Ball

Rieder speaking at the 10 Year Celebration Ball

“The 10 year's celebration of Milele Program was one of my best memories I will ever keep. It was amazing to see how people supported Milele in every way they can to make it successful. 

As I travel back home, I know saying goodbye is always hard, but I am more confident and well equipped with knowledge which will help me transform the loves of our kids and ensure they have a brighter future ahead. 

Thanks to everyone for being welcoming towards my visit. I really appreciate everything you have done for me throughout my stay in the UK. 

I will always do my best in my job and help all the kids

Byeee!!!"

 

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