Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lean In Moments: Innovating girls’ health and education in western Kenya

Every semester in the Women's Initiative in Leadership (WIL) program at the Institute of Politics, Harvard University, host a series of workshops and seminars meant to grow the network and skill sets of a select group of aspiring undergraduate female leaders in the college. They follow one woman as she pursued her passion to serve communities in a rural village in Kenya’-health-and-education-western-kenya

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sigomere Ward, Siaya County Embrace Girl Power Clubs Africa!

Mary Florence leads an outdoor session
It finally happened! From the 16th to 23rd March 2014, more than 166 girls from 7 schools in Sigomere Ward became the first group outside of Nairobi to become Girl Power Clubs Africa members! The schools included St. Paul Sigomere Secondary, St. Ignatius Sigomere Primary, Moi Uloma Secondary, Ugana Primary School, Small Homes Sigomere, Got Osimbo Primary and Madungu Secondary. We were particularly pleased to welcome our hosts and new member, Small Homes Sigomere, which, for the first time, brings in inclusion of girls with physical disabilities and of whom have gone through social abandonment and emotional trauma, who are cared for by the Catholic Church, but who hunger for acceptance by other normal girls.
It was a wonderful week in March, one to remember, marking the first Girl Power Clubs launch in rural Kenya. Kudoas to the team: Project Assistants Jayoung Naphtalie Margaret and Paulette Akinyi under able leadership of Dr. Liz Odera, Maria Okong'o and Coach Mary Florence. 

Maria Okong'o in a light moment with the women team
 Championed by Maria Okong'o a phenomenal women's leader in the county, girls from this rural area, through their teachers, got the chance to attend the Girl Power Introductory Workshop, that provided them with a chance to attend an orientation on various important aspects of Girl Power Clubs Africa. Girls, their teachers and women from the community played soccer and netball, and attended discussions on issues affecting their lives and rights, both positive and negative with Dr. Odera and Coach Florence for 3 evenings. The women received Sadili t-shirts and balls to help them do more practice and improve self esteem.

Girls playing soccer
The Girl Power Workshop was ably led by the main facilitator, Dr. Liz Odera, while organization of meals, space usage, was coordinated by Coach Florence, who also assisted Dr. Liz with the outdoor life skill sessions on "My Body", Communication, and learning to say "No". Influenced by the feedback from the girls during the pre-workshop sessions, Dr. Odera included "A letter to may mother", a problem solving project that the girls and their patrons did an impressive analysis on and "This is MY body", an outdoor communication through body language session. Said Dr. Odera, "Its obvious that a lot of abuse, suffering and self doubt is going on in the community, and we must begin to address some of them, if we are truly going to help girls understand and choose how to get their power back."

Women and girls at netball
Jayoung Naphtalie Margaret tackled the "Communication" section of the Goal Book, with help from Queen. Each day closed with an open forum on "knowing my rights" which was led by Dr. Odera, with input from Maria Okong'o and Jayoung Naphthalie. 

Queen and Paulette ably set up the various activities, organized the registrations, and handled the icebreakers special group discussions and baseline questionnaires, while Queen led the video and photography.  The girls enjoyed having them, and approached them on personal issues that they needed to talk about. 

Young lady leads in an icebreaker
Digital storytelling continued to form an important part of our workshops and we presented stories from various girls that Florence Akinyi had put together, and she also had a chance to tell her story.

During the breaks, Dr. Odera ran an in-depth interview with the new patrons (teachers) from the schools. 

Primary girls communicating!
The next 8 months will see these girls become agents of positive change in their communities. They will use the Goal Book, but there will be great emphasis on entrepreneurship, and digital storytelling as well as traditional methods of communication as a means of connecting the girls, their schools and the women in order to enhance community involvement. Two project assistants and a coach will be required for this and have been identified after interviews in Sigomere.

Time for the baseline questionnaire
For the first time in their lives, many women and girls got a unique chance to express themselves openly amongst their peers, and a number were pleasantly surprised to find that thy too, have rights like boys, like everyone else, recognized by the Constitution of Kenya. Teachers were very happy, and expressed the hope that the program would help their students take eduction more seriously, grow their their self esteem, and be more active in both inside and outside the classroom. The Founder of Girl Power Clubs Africa expressed this event was historic, and emphasized,"every girl who comes in contact with Girl Power Clubs will be inspired to change for the better, that's was always my dream!"

This tour to Siaya was made possible by support from DLA Piper, a Women Win partner. We thank them both! What comes next? Just know that we are ready to talk to any organization or person who sees the great opportunities available in changing lives positively, contact us on with your offer. We want to keep this project going for the next 4 years to make an impact in the community.

 Background On Siaya County
In addition to being one of the poorest districts in Kenya, Siaya district also has the highest rates of
morbidity and mortality in the country due to infectious diseases. Infant mortality rates in Siaya are very high ranging from 80 to 200 per 1,000 births. The most common diseases in Siaya district are malaria, HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, and skin diseases. Severe malnutrition is another major problem within the community, with rates estimated at 2.5 to 5% in children less than 36 months of age. Over the last decade, the health within the Siaya community has been dramatically affected by HIV/AIDS. Recent unpublished studies by an NGO working within the region show that as many as 33 to 41% of the women who attend antenatal clinic during pregnancy are HIV positive.

Reported by Sadili Media Team

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Girl Power's Patrons Impact Meeting

Members Present
Dr Liz Odera – Girl Power Clubs Africa Patron/Founder/Director
Jayoung Naphtalie Margaret – Project Assistant Girl Power Clubs Africa
Tr. Michael – Patron Girl Power Clubs St. Catherine’s/ Celtic
Mr. Orero  Anthony (Assistant Coach) – Patron Girl Power Clubs Olympic High School
Mr. Charles Mingo- Patron Girl Power Clubs Nazarene Self Help School
Apologies for absent members
All other patrons from other schools were:
1.      Nairobi Day – Out of Town on Workshop
2.      Huruma Girls – Changing patrons as their former was transferred
3.      Olympic Primary , Holy Unity High , Holy Unity Primary,  Langata Barracks High– Had Saturday class
4.      Malezi Schools- Out on School games
Agenda  of Meeting
Ø  Welcome and Introduction
Ø  Reading of meeting Agenda
Ø  Each patron talks on and reviews on:
-          The programmes so far
-          The number of girl per school
-          Sessions attendance of both girls and girl power staff
-          Quality of the sessions
-          The sports programme in the school for the girls
-          The achievements and challenges so far
-          What are the behaviour changes they have noticed/ what is the impact of the programme on the girl’s
1.      Academics
2.      Participation in extra curricular activities
3.      Leadership roles  and general behaviour changes
Finally each patron was to share what they feel should be
1: Included in the Girl Power Programme to improve it
2. What has changed
3. Improvements for the future
The meeting was steered by Project Assistant Jayoung and the following are notes from the meeting.
St. Catherine’s Primary School
St. Catherine joined Girl Power Clubs in the 3rd of school academic year in 2013 and they recognise a number of positive changes coupled with challenges as they adjust to the club activities.
The school having joined us in third term does lack a girl ‘’goal champion ‘’ and there fore running of sessions on their own has been quite a challenge. They have no sports equipment to participate in any sports as now though the girls main sport is football. They meet once a week on Thursdays from 3:10 PM to 4:30 PM  at the school Hall which they consider as safe space for the girls and have in turn shown their comfort of the venue . The meetings are often chaired by a female teacher from the school, sometimes Goal Champion from another school (Caroline from Malezi High) or Girl power staff. External visits from us are sometimes irregular but they do receive communication frequently.
On the positive, the patron noted the girls who joined the club gradually began having more serious approach towards things, required less supervision, their school attendance generally increased and so did their performance in academics. With regards to academics 4 out of the girls who were KCPE candidates at time of joining last year did score more than 300 marks out of a possible 500. Mr. Michael did attribute the success to their participation in the club and the girls have joined high schools in Nyanza and Western parts of Kenya.
He requested to get the session guides for the girls, have a girl trained as goal champion and once a while have sessions with us on Saturdays in the afternoon when possible.
Nazarene Self Help School
Nazerene  is ‘’patroned’’ by  Mr Charles Mingo and has other female teachers attached to the girls such as Tr. Millicent. The patron says they joined Girl Power when we started but some of their girls have been to Sadili way before in 2002.Their first encounter with us as group was during our first Sisterhood World Cup.
Nazarene at Sisterhood World Cup 2012
Their first challenge was how to gather the girls together, after which the question of where to play and train came up as the school lacked sports facilities including a field and the teacher has to talk to a 
neighboring school to allow his students to use the field on specific days.
Since then, despite lack of field the girls continue to compete in our sports events very well and when they cannot do sports they engage in other extra curricular activities such as debates and have done exceptionally well. Their participation in the debates has been a major indicator that the girls are gaining more confidence, able to argue out issues and organise their thoughts well even when confronted with random debate topics at competitions without prior knowledge of the topic that they might have. One of the topics they debated on was ‘’digital technology has done more good than damage’’ . The girls participate better in sessions and try to complete the sessions over time frame given.
With regards to leadership, the patron noted many of the female leaders in the school did spring up from members in their Girl Power Club and more often than not those that were leaders tended to perform better in other areas too or simply improved. During last year’s KCPE national exams 5 of their girls scored above 300 marks out of the possible 500 and are off to high school.
Dr. Mwaka with the medical team during one of the
I Have a Ball Competitions she very well helped
to run
The girls are currently about 46 in number  for this term. Their main sport is Volley Ball and Net Ball. They meet on Wednesdays between 3:00-4:30 pm and would love to have us more in their sessions . They would as well like to have extended sessions to Saturday afternoons when possible. The girl’s club information is kept by the girls in a file by the girls’ voted in secretary.
Jayoung with the Nazarene Girls in session
One of the other positive impact with regards to school attendance and general behaviour change is one story of one of the girl power members  Ann (not her whole name though)  who was a known school truant , sneaked from school, from her parents home and felt she was big enough to fend for herself even though still in primary. Her parents tried to help her but still was a challenge and when girl power came along she was involved in the  ‘I have a Ball’’ theme and challenge when she met Jayoung, Dr. Mwaka and other girls from Girl Power she then gradually gained interest in school and the club activity.

 At first it looked as though out of curiosity and soon became more frequent in school and finally returned home. She is now in high school and in from two!!!

Olympic High School
Olympic High School located at Kibera Olympic area is a mixed both day and boarding however it only accommodates the girls that play football in their boarding facilities. These girls come from all over Kenya and sometimes from other similar programmes like Girl Power and when they join, they get better equipped such that by the time they go back they have double value.
The girls are active footballers and train very well supported by their two male coaches Coach Anthony and Coach Orao Joesph as well as their principal with the school’s deputy (female) acting as their Patron.
Out of the entire football team 70% form the Girl Power Club although more often than not there is a rotation of the girls such that during their school term atleast of them does interact with girl power.
The girls meet on their own and have their own custom made sessions to suit their time and nature of activities and this is often at night and when attending competitions away they try to meet up before and after game to talk about things that matter to them. Their meetings days are usually Mondays however its sometimes hard to include our project assistants for sessions apart from sports as by the time its session time the girls are training hence can only meet at night after preps. The girls train in the morning and evening. At 5 am they jog all the way to railways and back before they go for breakfast, preps and class.
Evening Training session
On the brighter side, the patron noted the girls seem to need lesser supervision now. Although they always participate in sports they see more girls willing be involved in competition not just because they belong to the football team but because they enjoying it. They joined us in 2012 they have since participated in our sisterhood world cup competition and won both times. Recently , they participated in the school games competition and have moved through the Langata District to Nairobi County, Metropolitan level , Nationals and finally representing
The Team that played in Rwanda with their school principal
and deputy
Kenya in East Africa where they fell third place. The team has also been to Nigeria for football and also registered a number of girls join to form the National under 18 Girls team with one Catherine Osiche also a member of Girl Power heading as the girl’ s national team  Harambee Stars captain. Among others who have been through Girl Power is Fathime Omar who will soon be going to Germany for further training in football. She is one of the girls from coast and a beneficiaries of two sister programmes. When in Nairobi she joins Girl Power and is trained with us and when in Coast she is with MTG Kilifi and we all proud of her.
One of our concerns with girls who play sports at is often that they do not have a place to change when they go out. For Olympic High school they encourage the girls to dress in their sports wear underneath their uniforms or simply come readily dressed. When they need room the only place they have is the school bus in most cases.

Recommendation  , Announcements and A.O.B
1.      All new Girl Power Club schools without Goal Champions will have the opportunity to have some of their girls trained as Goal Champions in the next training in April 2014.
2.      Patrons present at the meeting with no balls received two balls each immediately to aid their sports in school for the girls.
3.      Patrons who know any of their girls that have completed school and are looking for something to do and interested in being fitness instructors should let us know by mid April so that they may join training in May learn  and get something to do in the process as we try to provide a ‘’safety net’’ for the girls that come off our programmes. After school and graduation in the programme.
4.      Girl Power is opening up in Siaya County, Sigomere Ward. Girl Power Club Staff shall spend a week in Siaya county and set up as get familiar with the new area. This will be the first opening out of Nairobi

From right to left team to Siaya- Dr. Liz Odera, Paullete Akinyi, Maria Okongó
, Mary Florence, Gwen Aketch and Jayoung Naphtalie Margaret

5.      The patrons did express of their enthusiasm in the new venture and very much encouraged it by sharing some of their experiences in those areas, giving their pleas as well as adding additional valuable information we should know that face many of the girls in Siaya County especially girls that have access to the lake sides and fishing sights. School drop out, early marriages pregnancies, gigers among other health threats, child prostitution and more where the girls are forced into sex to get some basic things.

At the end of meeting the patrons did collect their girls certificate of participation in the Vital Voices Mentoring Walk , have a cup of tea, receive two balls each per school  and some transport compensation .

Report compiled by,
Jayoung Naphtalie Margaret
Project Assistant,
Girl Power Clubs Africa.
Sadili Oval Sports Academy

Saturday, December 21, 2013


December is always a mass of activities, students exited to finally end an academic year – well at least for those in the 8-4-4 System of education. With Christmas bells ringing around the corner, exams are finally over and you get to hang out with your friends at home if you are not or are lucky to travel to the village until its time to get back to school for a whole brand new year!
For us at Girl Power we get super busy trying to catch the girls before they all get lost in the frenzy of activities holidays come with especially, December! Every holiday we try to make sure we offer the girls ‘’a piece of our hearts’ our passion and what keeps us going, the reason we exist –yes it is for them!  A whole week, at least 3 to 4  days of a bit of everything life skills, sports, entrepreneurial  skills , some art, dance , a safe space and many new girls that come every holiday so they can make friends with. A place they feel they want to keep coming back if not for the learning, then at least the fun in everything else, which they like most.
This time we had a total of 183 girls . 92 under 12 years and 91 above 13 years. 80 % were new, from around Langata, thanks to a very excited lady who has been all excited and enjoys what we do with and for the girls. We call her mama Jacky.  She made sure not only her daughter and her niece attended but their mass of friends who brought others too. Our own Girl Power who couldn’t attend from Kibera because they were going back to their villages, passed word to those who stayed behind.
Day 1: Tue 3rd Dec 2013
We had our traditional opening, with ice breakers and then an hour session on Leadership and Core Values. Those girls who were above 13 years, were lead by our own Project Assistants Jayoung Naphtalie Margaret  and Paullete Akinyi.  The under-12 girls were led by Queen Gwen, using the Goal Book Approach.  While Dr. Liz Odera and  Coach Mary Florence  took on cameras.  Later in the day Mary Florence took some of girls through basic DST and sharing real stories of girls like them

Day 2: 4th December
The morning session was all about Goal, with Under-12 girls working on , ‘’Pin the trash on the can ‘’ with together with Queen., while the older ones discussed ‘’Role Models and Reaching out to our Community.’’ with Paullete, Jayoung and Mary Florence. The evening was a general session on hygiene and reproductive health & responsible relationships with  Coach Rehema Akinyi and Mary Florence.
Day : 5th December
This was our ‘learning basic bead work skills ‘’ day as well as ‘’Sports day’’.  The girls really enjoyed the day, and there were plenty of smiles and chatter, as they learned to design necklaces and wrist bands for the upcoming women’s meeting in Uganda, with Susan Gathu improving on the finished product. They then played tennis with coaches Evelyn, Jamin and Rich, and basketball with coach Amoko, followed by skipping rope and other singing games on their own.
Day: 6th December
This was the older girls’ fun day. Girls that graduated from primary and high school had their mini pool party. All day in the pool with barbequed food, soft drinks, music and dancing! They thoroughly enjoyed their day and did not realise that the evening was wearing in!
9th to 13th December 2013
 Once again, Girl Power got one of life’s rare but meaningful and great chances to have two of her own represent the entire organisation on a South to South Exchange in Uganda, thanks to Vital Voices. Dr. Liz Odera and Jayoung Margaret joined a team of 50 women from over 25 countries across the world. It was a great opportunity to learn, collaborate, share, connect and exchange best. It is always humbling for us to be part of such great It is one of the things we are forever grateful for!
Lots of Thanks to
Dr. Odera for the great leading through the year, all Sadili  and Girl Power Staff, our volunteers and people who occasionally step in to give a hand…Susan Gathu and one of our girls from Huruma Girls who was great help, Purity Ndemo. , all the girls that have been with us in 2013 and before, our Face Book friends, those who ‘liked’’ our pages, twitter followers, blog readers, Women Win and all her partners for the support and taking time to mentor our girls through the year, LVCT –Kenya , KMWA and Vital Voices for helping us end year in a great note!

Story & Report done by
Jayoung Naphtalie Margaret
Project Assistant
Girl Power Clubs Africa
and edited by Dr. Liz Odera
Head Professional
Sadili Oval Sports Academy.