The Circle of Sisterhood supports entities that remove barriers to education for girls and women, uplifting them from poverty and oppression. Because of the generous support of our donors, we’ve had an impact in nineteen countries since our founding in 2010.
Violence against women has added its own brand of shame to recent wars around the world. Girls and women are too often singled out for rape, imprisonment, torture and execution. And many lose their entire family to conflict. Worldwide displacement has hit an all-time high as war and persecution increase. Fortunately, there are organizations like Heshima Kenya working to empower refugee children.
The Circle of Sisterhood is honored to be able to support the work of an organization protecting and empowering urban unaccompanied refugee children and youth living in Nairobi, with a special focus on adolescent girls and youth aged 13-23. They provide education coupled with holistic services such as shelter, income-generation opportunities, case management support, and advocacy.
In June 2014, the Circle of Sisterhood awarded Heshima Kenya $5,000 to provide 80 unaccompanied refugee girls and young women with access to education and livelihood support through Heshima Kenya’s Girls’ Empowerment Project (GEP). This program provides a safe community for girls and young women to learn about their human rights while addressing avenues for self-sufficiency and leadership skill building. Participants engage in four transitional program components: basic education, life-skills training and discussion, vocational training through our specialized tailoring program, and financial literacy training and income-generation.
Since June 2014, 100 girls and young women have enrolled in the program, bringing the current total to 181. As of May 2015, 71% of the participants demonstrated a 50% increase in knowledge in basic education, while 72% of the participants demonstrated 50% of knowledge in life skills.
In April 2015, the Circle of Sisterhood was proud to support the expansion of Heshima Kenya’s GEP project through a second $5,000 grant. The impact this program is having on young women and girls is perhaps best stated by Mary Anyieth, in a piece she wrote for Heshima Kenya’s November 2014 newsletter:
“My name is Mary, I am a role model to myself. I like being me and I will work hard to become somebody in life. I hope in ten years time, I will be someone that people admire and will be a role model to the upcoming generation. I am going to be okay. As a refugee woman, I have found hope and will become a leader. I am always telling people the last things to lose in your life are your dignity and hope… When girls are empowered, they have the freedom and confidence to access their rights and the resources they need in order to lead lives free of violence. Without knowing rights, we cannot change society. The difference between the position I was in before and where I am now is like the difference between the position between the ground and the sky.”
By providing resources for long-term support, the girls and young women supported by Heshima Kenya become catalysts for creating sustainable change within their local and global community. The children and youth served are creating social change, individually and collectively.