My time volunteering
Our team in Bondo, Siaya aimed to reduce the level of unemployment and underemployment amongst girls out-of-school, pregnant and young mothers, disabled and those infected/affected by HIV/AIDs aged between 15-25 years old.
Placed at Sanne Landin, myself and my counterpart Karen had the opportunity to work alongside this charity which supports vulnerable young women. We ran a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SHRH) programme at Father Ouderaa Secondary School for the Deaf, ensuring that trainings of this kind are available to all in the community.
In Siaya county, VSO have around 150 Primary Actors who attend Safe Space sessions held by volunteers whereby the women can learn from each others' experiences to educate themselves. Our Safe Space sessions where held in the sub-counties of Uwangi and Gobei and we focused on the development of business plans for a business pitching competition held by VSO.
We enjoyed working with the students at Father Ouderra Secondary School running and facilitating a series of peer education sessions focusing on SRHR - discussing STIs, busting myths surrounding HIV/AIDs as well as covering other topics such as disease prevention and puberty. We partnered with volunteers from Bondo Youth Friendly Centre, and the students and teachers loved programme so much they asked us to come in on some additional days. The sessions proved to be both fun and informative.
The impact of my placement
The session at Father Ouderra enabled the pupils to change their perspective about HIV/AIDs, as well as gaining a greater understanding of STIs and effective contraception to protect against them. We also had the opportunity to learn some Kenyan sign language while we were there, and we both loved interacting with the students and learning about what it means to live with a hearing impairment in Kenyan society.
Our Safe Spaces have allowed the women to develop new linkages and network with other Safe Spaces in the area. Arranging a benchmarking session in partnership with the volunteers at Victoria and Ebenzer Community Based Organisation inspired the women to start their own women to start the own income-generating activity - shaggy mats - with the aim of saving money to open their own businesses in the future, enabling them to return back to school or enrol in training institutes in the future. Alongside this the women have been preparing for the upcoming business pitching competition, including writing plans, proposals, and developing their pitching skills, in the hope of securing funds to kickstart their business. These range from opening salons to second hand clothes stalls.
As VSO continues to establish a presence in the community, myself and Karen aided the establishment of another group of Primary Actors in the Gobei area and we now have an active group of around 17 women. We helped them to developed and form business ideas and are helping the women to become a independent group run and organised by the Primary Actors themselves. Therefore, promoting sustainability and empowerment.
My unforgettable moments
The amazing team of UK and Kenyan volunteers who supported me through the three months - as well as my 'adopted' brothers and sister who I lived with and my host mum who taught us to make the best chapatis. I will never forget the amazing memories I have with them whether during the day or at the weekend!
The impact my placement has had on me
My time volunteering has made me a more confident individual. The ICS programme is challenging, and working alongside vulnerable young women has enabled me to better understand myself and others. I am now at university and am now always looking for ways to help those marginalised in my local community.