ZF Supports Girls’ Empowerment Program with Heshima Kenya

At 16 years old, Sahro was separated from her family during the conflict in Somalia. She was forced to flee her war-torn homeland and journeyed to Kenya, where she found safety with Heshima Kenya.  

Heshima Kenya (HK) serves and empowers young female refugees in Nairobi, Kenya. Since 2008, the organization has redefined refugee protection through one-of-a-kind holistic models offering shelter, education, economic empowerment, and more. It is the first organization in Kenya to protect unaccompanied minors and separated children.

Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) has been working with HK since 2013. ZF is a major funder of the Girls’ Education Program (GEP). Thanks to ZF’s contributions, GEP has impacted 230 beneficiaries. For 70 percent of HK-sponsored refugee women, this is their first opportunity receiving any formal education.

“We are deeply honored to work with Zakat Foundation and grateful for our positive and successful partnership,” says Azra Husejnovic, a Grants Manager at Heshima Kenya.

It was because of HK and ZF’s efforts that Sahro was able to immigrate to the United States. She’s now married with a son living in Chicago and continues to work closely with both organizations. Recently, ZF produced a documentary highlighting the journey of refugees such as Sahro.

“I’m one of the Heshima Kenya girls,” Sahro said. “I have an education. I have life skills. I had tailoring classes, and I make handmade scarves.”

Earlier this summer, on World Refugee Day (June 20th), UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited HK’s campus in Nairobi, where she interacted with young girls and attended the Maisha Collective fashion show.

“My only ask is that people consider the pain and suffering of young girls like these,” said Ms. Jolie. “Not only have they had to flee extreme violence or persecution, lost everything and witnessed the death of family members, but they have also had to face so much abuse and intolerance and hardship. It was an honor to spend the day with them.”