HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR 2019

Our Kenya Program: As we close the year, below are some of the achievements we made in 2019: We had 4 schools signed up for the Choice Club Mentorship Program. We finished with the Choice Club curriculum on time with all the schools and graduated all the members. We graduated over 200 girls in all the four schools. In Njabini, Kimuka and AIC Ngong we were able to offer lunch to all the girls in the school during the graduation ceremony. We introduced a book club in two of the schools. The book titled “I AM TOO PRETTY TO BE BROKE,” was well received by the girls. We discussed different topics in various meetings. We had a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activity with all the schools where we offer the scholarship program. In Njabini Girls, we visited a neighboring Primary School where we played with the young boys and girls. We offered them snacks and gave sanitary towels to the girls in the upper classes. In AIC Girls, we visited a girls ‘Rescue Centre where we helped clean up and cook. We shared a meal and finally played games with them. In Kimuka Girls, the club members used the funds saved up to pay tuition fees for one of the members whose family was unable to pay for her. At Shiners school, the funds went to a children’s home where food was distributed on behalf of the club members. We managed to rescue a girl who had threatened to commit suicide and locked herself in her bedroom. She had refused to go back to school though she was sitting her final exams. Through counselling and offering love and support, she agreed to go back to school and sat her final exams. The parents were very grateful for the support. We gave sanitary towels to the needy girls in all the schools where we offer the Choice Club Mentorship Program. We were invited to other schools including a mixed Primary School to talk to the students on mental and physical health. Valvisions Foundation was recognized for supporting the schools with the Choice Club Mentorship Program which has helped many students especially those with challenges to stay in school. The girls from Pokot, who are part of the Helen Valverde Scholarship Fund, received support to attend college at Thogoto Teachers’ College. They finished their education and all passed their exams with...

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Reachout Center – Mombasa

Valvisions Foundation, in partnership with Reachout Center Trust, conducted a workshop in their Mombasa offices targeting those that are recovering from drug addiction, those that have already recovered and are now peer educators, and members of the community that help the Center recruit the youth found to be using drugs. There was a very positive turn out. We had a total of 80 participants attend the 3-day seminar. The first day we had a group discussion with those who are recovering as well as the recovered addicts. The ones on recovery are given methadone which helps reduce the effects of heroin. Methadone eases the withdrawal symptoms and helps maintain the addict during recovery. It is sad to see what drug addiction can do to negatively impact lives. During the meeting, the addicts kept falling asleep due to the effects of the drugs. When they were awake, the substance abusers greatly contributed to the discussion; they are very knowledgeable, some have brilliant minds that have just wasted away. They get a lot of love and support from the Reachout Center counselors. The counselors know each one of the recruits by name, and it was interesting to see how well they responded to the peer counselors and the Director of the Center. Addressing the addicts by name gives them a sense of belonging; they are not just shadows in the corridors. They are recognized and appreciated. When listening to the individuals share the tribulations they go through on the street as a result of their drug use, we wondered how they managed to survive. They will go to any length to get money for their next ‘fix.’ They have been beaten, sexually abused, imprisoned, chased away from their homes- all the results of drug and substance abuse. One female addict explained that she feels like she’s in a prison where she can’t get out. Drug addiction, it seems, is the only prison where one is locked up, but the keys are on the inside.  Unlocking the door and getting out is a decision only the addict can only make, with a lot of support. Those that have recovered are definitely in a good place. They are, however, cautious of a relapse. They know how fast that can happen as most have relapsed many times. Those in recovery speak with pride of where they are now as opposed to where they used...

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Being a Mentor

A good mentor has the willingness to share their knowledge, skills, and expertise. They must also demonstrate a positive attitude and act as a positive role model. Being a mentor requires one to place themselves in the life of the person being mentored, attempting to walk their journey with them, and making every effort to ensure that every accomplishment in the person’s life is recognized and appreciated. We have mentored many girls in the past; we have seen a positive change in some and none in others. Still, this does not stop our resolve to be effective and helpful. We believe there is something good in each and every one of us. One of the girls we mentored from a young age is Tshani Marithe; she was seven years old at the time. Her parents lived in Kenya though they are originally from Congo. This girl was always inquisitive, pleasant and eager to learn new things. She was very focused on her studies and did well at school. From a tender age, we could see the potential in her. She lived with her parents and two other siblings. Her mother was a hair-dresser; she braided women’s hair from her house, and she did a brilliant job. We all queued to get our hair done by her. With time, Marithe got interested in hair braiding and would watch as her mother braided other people’s hair. She eventually started helping out in the salon after school and this became her life. She graduated from primary school, achieved very good grades in Secondary School and proceeded on to the University where she graduated with honors. She made her parents very proud, and we too, who had been part of her life. It was, therefore, very exciting for us when we met her yesterday after a very long while had passed. She joined her mother’s business of braiding hair, expanded it, and turned the business around. As she develops the business, she also creates time to work and help her mother. Proceeds from the salon have educated all her siblings. Her brother just graduated with a Master’s Degree in Business, and the youngest is finishing up Secondary School. The family has been able to buy land, build a family home, and bought cars- all proceeds from the hair braiding business. Marithe helps her mother come up with new exciting styles to braid hair....

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Abusive Marriages

Gender-based violence continues to be a big issue in our society. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear of a woman who has been battered by her husband. Many women are suffering in abusive marriages and relationships; they are too scared to speak out. We were invited to speak at a bridal shower and listening to the other women in attendance brought this point sharply home. Women who have been in marriages for 5-20 years all have tales to tell, most of them unpleasant. One lady told us that she was told by her mother that marriage is for life and that no matter what happens leaving is not an option. The girls are taught from a young age that they are the ones to keep the marriage alive; the man can do as he pleases, but the woman is to submit and support her husband. While long ago this was the rule, times have changed and so have people. Many couples are fighting in their marriages and spouses are turning on each other; many have been killed in the process. When we discussed mental illness, we realized that a lot of people are walking on the streets battling serious issues of depression. A man who is known in his neighborhood as loving and gentle will one day turn on his family, killing his wife and the kids and then hanging himself. The whole neighborhood will be left in shock; no one saw it coming. Where the wife survives, she will tell of a life of horror with the man. She has been beaten more times than she can count and threatened with death, but regardless, she clung onto the relationship. She did not want the stigma of being a divorcee. She has sought marriage counseling numerous times, but things just have not changed. Young women are getting into marriages with a lot of fear; they don’t know what to expect. We may not have a remedy for all the problems or an answer to every question, but caution is definitely needed. We have a breed of men who do not mind sitting in the house while the wife goes to work, pays the bills, and buys the food. A man should ideally be the provider, and in cases where one loses his job or is unable to work for one reason or another, the couple at...

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Children’s Day

Universal Children’s day was celebrated on the 20th of November. Children the world over are vulnerable and exposed to abuse and exploitation. The United Nations declared the Universal Children’s Day in 1954. This was to aid in promoting international togetherness, create awareness among children worldwide, and improve children’s welfare. Children suffer in the hands of adults, the same people who are supposed to take care of them. We have religious cults that have come up that do not believe in taking their children to the hospital or to school. They keep their children at home and are not allowed to interact with other children who are not from the same religion. These children have been known to die of preventable diseases like diarrhea, measles, chickenpox, and pneumonia. The government has done a lot to fight these false religions and to take the children away. The children are taken to the hospital for the necessary injections and then taken to school. Some of these children are brainwashed to believe that the schools and hospitals are not good and so try to oppose the intervention, but they are underage, and the government has the upper hand. Poverty, broken families, and other conflicts contribute to depression, and when parents are depressed, the children suffer. We have many cases of children who have been killed by their parents due to conflict in the family. Recently there was a case of a mother who took her two children on a trip to visit their dad who works in another town. The parents were estranged and living apart. After they visited their father, the children left for home, but two days later, they had not arrived at their destination. An alarm was raised about the disappearance of the children. For a full week, police officials tried tracing the children to no avail. Their father was arrested as he was the last person seen with the family. Later, we heard on the news that the mother and her two children were found buried in a shallow grave in the same town they had gone to visit their father. The news was all over the television, newspapers, and all social media platforms. The devastating news caused a lot of tension in the country. These were school-going children who had many friends; they lived in a neighborhood and socialized with others; suddenly they were no more. The pain...

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Drug Problems

It is sad to think there are people who make a living off peddling drugs. The drug situation in the coast of Mombasa is truly enormous. As we walked to the offices of Reachout Center Trust, we met with young boys and girls walking to the Center. They have a drop-in Center where those addicted to drugs come for help and a doctor on site who attends to the addicts immediately when they walk in. It is sad to see how severely drugs have ruined their lives; most of them walk in dazed and barefoot. We were told that some of the addicts come from very well-to-do families, but they run away from home because they have become hooked onto drugs. The majority of them started with chewing miraa (“khat”). It is common to find even grown-up women chewing the khat at home. The children get used to seeing the herbs at home, and with time, they start chewing, too. It is a very addictive herb; one can stay awake for hours chewing it. They later move on to smoking weed and before long they get onto the harder drugs. Mr. Taib told us that once the addicts start using heroin, it is downhill all the way. Injecting drugs puts the users at risk of HIV infection, Hepatitis C among other diseases. The Drop-in Center offers prevention and intervention services for those who use drugs. There are those addicts who are eager to quit drugs so that they can get free treatment and meals from the Center.  The Reachout Center aims to guide addicts back to the path of a drug-free life. Mombasa as a city has been robbed of an energetic workforce because the youth (who should be going to school to get an education and later jobs to support a family), have been swallowed in the drug menace and cannot achieve gainful employment. We were further informed during the meeting that almost every home in the Kibokoni area, where the Center is based, are negatively impacted by drug use. Prostitution and drug use generally go hand-in-hand. Young girls get involved in prostitution in order to obtain money to support their drug habit. Drug use has also contributed to an increase in the number of homosexuals. Men will offer themselves to other men who are in a position to buy them drugs; the same applies to women. The...

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