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

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