Women and Girls Gaining Education and Skills in Kenya

The Girls’ Empowerment Project (GEP) of Heshima Kenya offers a rare chance for refugee women and girls to overcome extreme hardships and gain education and vocational skills. For example, when Ayan Hussein started in GEP’s basic education and tailoring courses, she struggled to keep up, but through hard work and help from her peers she graduated at the top of her class. She mastered the tie-and-dye technique in her tailoring course to such a degree that when the older recruits left to start their own businesses, she stepped in as project leader.

The GEP, through a partnership with Zakat Foundation of America, offers an educational alternative to Nairobi’s refugee girls and young women aged between 13 and 23. Participants bring a variety of educational levels, cultures, languages and personal histories to the program, but all are encouraged to develop life and leadership skills, including instruction in human rights and peace-building, at their own pace.

For 70 percent of the 210 young women who have participated in the GEP so far, the program has offered them their first chance to receive any formal schooling.

Although participants may have little experience in school, teachers work with them in reading, writing, arithmetic, language skills, social studies, and science according to their needs. The final level prepares participants for the Kenya certificate for Primary Education. Students begin part-time tailoring courses once they have adjusted to the demands of their academic coursework.

In keeping with its philosophy of serving the whole learner, the project provides an onsite daycare facility for young and new mothers, and participants receive instruction on sexual and reproductive health, prevention of and response to gender-based violence, and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Nairobi’s refugee girls and women, many of whom have been separated from their families, bear the physical and emotional scars of war, and often exploitation and abuse. Their access to shelter, education and medical care is extremely limited so they live with dire poverty and insecurity. Through the generous support of Zakat Foundation of America donors, Heshima Kenya has offered not just help but empowerment to this vulnerable population. Please contribute to give refugee women and girls in Kenya the chance of a lifetime.