Poverty and early pregnancy are some of the major factors limiting most girls from accessing and attaining higher levels of education in Kenya, especially in slums. Surprisingly, most girls in slums have normalized dropping out of school to an extent they feel that education has no value to them and so they end up in early marriages. Growing up in Mathare slums and managing to join university, I often felt the need to act as a role model and change the girls thinking on education.
It is for this reason that I sought to create an avenue where I would mentor young girls and give advice on the importance of studies.
In 2015 with the help of my church pastor, I started a small youth support group called .. in my church intending to interact with girls and share information on the significance of studies and sexual reproductive health through talks. To ensure that the group was functional, I delegated different tasks such as securing venues and preparing materials for discussion to my team members which helped create an environment that promoted inclusiveness and fostered shared responsibilities.
We organized for talks and door to door outreaches on Sundays based on our schedule where we would talk to the girls and encourage them to share their views. At first, we faced resistance from some girls but with time they were willing to join in the talks and even helped in the outreach activities by helping us identify other girls to speak to. From the girl’s testimonials, the talks have enabled them to become more aware of the need for education and their reproductive health.
From the engagements with the girls, most of them pointed out that finances and lack of sanitary towels were some of the reasons that kept them out of school and even forced them to engage in promiscuous behaviors to raise money for sustenance. To help solve this, I pioneered the idea of fundraising which was taken positively by my team members. We agreed to approach other church members and informed them about our initiative to support 10 academically bright girls by providing for them sanitary towels every three months. Impressed by our work, my church pastor also agreed to pay for secondary school fees for one of the girls. Currently, she is pursuing a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Education at Kenyatta University
Through Chevening leadership seminars and conferences, I look forward to enhancing my skills further in preparation for taking up senior leadership positions after study where I will have the opportunity to mentor and support more girls in my community and the wider world by taking part in different development projects that focus on education.