Sanitary Hygiene Bags

During our last visit to Njabini school, in February, we witnessed a very sad scene. A young girl, around 10 years of age, was running home with her school bag on her back. As she passed a group of other school children, mostly boys, she tripped and fell. What ensued was heartbreaking. Her dress hiked up as she fell which left her whole back exposed. Her underpants were in shreds, totally worn out and basically held together by a string. As she cried out in pain, she tried to cover her nakedness, but she was too late; the other kids had already seen the condition of her panties and were howling in laughter. We jumped out of the car and ran to her, lifted her off the ground, and sternly reprimanded the other children. The young girl was crying hysterically. We felt her tears were more from the shame she had endured than from the pain of falling. As we spoke to her and tried to reassure her, we could still see the panicked look in her eyes. Through her sobs, she told us she would not go to school the next day; she did not want to face further ridicule from those children. We escorted her home. Her mother, who is a casual laborer, had not yet returned home from work. As we waited for her mother, we asked the young girl for the name of her school. We managed to get the school principal’s number. We spoke to him that Thursday evening and told him what had transpired. We asked him to please ensure that the girl did not suffer further humiliation. We asked him to reprimand the naughty kids and warn them not to even look in her direction. On the way back from Nakuru on Friday, we sent a pack of new panties to the girl. We bought her 14 panties and promised to go check on her sometime, soon. The girl’s mother was full of gratitude. She said bringing up the kids on her own was so overwhelming that she didn’t pay attention to things like buying underwear. Food and tuition fees were her priorities, and she admitted to having overlooked important things that her daughters needed. That incident made us sad the whole week. The shame the young girl endured was too much for her tender age. She will need to be very...

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Shiners School Farewell Lunch

This week’s Form 4 appreciation lunch was held at the Shiners School in Nakuru. They have 187 students sitting the final exams this year. Part of this number are members of the Choice Club. In the spirit of sharing and being mindful of others, the club members chose to share a lunch with the rest of the girls in the school. Due to Covid, schools have not been able to hold prayers meetings in the schools. They were, therefore, excited to have the Choice Club mentorship club appreciate them by sharing a meal and receiving a talk from an invited guest. Njihia, is a young man who has made a name for himself by entertaining people. After his secondary education, he didn’t find formal employment easy to come by. He tried all sorts of odd jobs and realized that life was not going to be as easy as he had envisioned. He was always a great entertainer while at school and always made people laugh when he entered a room. He had a talent that he realized if put to good use,  could help him make money. Njihia began entertaining people at wedding parties, school functions, and any gathering he could find that was interested in his offer to entertain. In time, people realized Njihia’s great potential. He became a household name and is now one of the greatest sought after entertainers. He earns much more than he would have earned working in an office. We invited Njihia to attend the graduation ceremony. He encouraged the girls to make use of their talents after school. As much as we wish all the girls would pass their exams with straight A’s, there are those that will not do so well. Njihia inspired the girls not to give up on life when discouragement knocks. He motivated them to turn away from negative emotions and look within themselves to search for their passions, talents, and gifts. The girls were happy to hear they can make it in life even if they do not manage to go to university. According to Nihia, they only need to humble themselves and reach for any opportunities available. He encouraged them to preserve their dignity and not settle for less, as they are each uniquely designed for greatness. The lunch provided by the Choice Club was very much appreciated. There was also cake to crown the ceremony...

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Choice Club Graduations

Graduation ceremonies continue at the schools. It has been a busy week of preparation.  There has been a lot of excitement as the girls look forward to the ceremonies. This past week, we held the ceremony at Njabini Girls’ school. The school is nestled in the Aberdare ranges, a very cold but calm and beautiful area. First time students find it very hard to cope because of the climate. These students are covered in warm sweaters and blazers and leg warmers, but still complain of the cold. There is a myth that cold environments are ideal for a students’ well-being. It is said that the cold keeps the students alert, and they are better able to focus on their exams. There are students who have dipped their feet in freezing cold water while studying especially in schools with a hot climate, like Mombasa, so as to stay alert and not fall asleep during night classes. The girls at Njabini school were struggling with discipline issues. The school administration typically notifies us when a particular issue arises that they feel Valvisions can help address. Mr. Kaniu, the Director of the school, testified that since the mentorship program was introduced, they have seen a lot of positive change from the students. He reports that the negative attitude the students previously demonstrated in regard to their education and personal behavior has drastically changed. Mr. Kaniu states the Choice Club members are some of the kindest girls in the school. He says, generally, the Choice Club members are considerate and willing to help when there is need. Mr. Kaniu commented that mentorship students often show the other girls how to respond to issues that would otherwise cause them much stress. We have held many sessions with the entire school whenever a need occurred, and we are certain the girls keen on improving their lives have learnt a lot from those meetings. We mentor the girls with passion, love and wisdom. We narrate personal success and struggles we have endured growing up, so they know they are not alone; we were once teenagers, too. We strive to get to their level, and we don’t judge them no matter how bad the situation. It was, therefore, a joy for the Form 1 and 2 girls, all members of the Choice Club, to receive their graduation certificates and to be acknowledged for their good behavior and...

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International Women’S Day

A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.So let’s all choose to challenge.   Today, we celebrated Women’s Day by conducting a graduation ceremony for our Choice Club members at the AIC school. CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE being the theme for this year; it spoke volumes to the girls. As the Form 4 students prepare to sit their final exams in two weeks, the primary question on their minds is whether they will be successful in the job market. The girls know they have what it takes to make bold moves that will help them obtain jobs, but they also have trepidations about whether they will be given equal opportunities with their male counterparts. Equal opportunity in the workplace has been a topic that has been addressed for years, but there are still many cases of women being humiliated in the workplace and worse. Uganda is an African country that takes the issue of gender equality very seriously. There, many women have powerful positions in government, and these encourage more to participate. Women’s Day is actually a national holiday in Uganda. We celebrated the club members’ achievements by gifting certificates to show they completed the 10 topics in the curriculum, and fully understand what they were taught. We then cut a cake and later shared dinner with the entire school. The school dinner diet was supplemented with meat, rice, vegetables, fruits and juice all contributed by Valvisions Foundation through the Choice Club.  This act of sharing is one of our core values, being mindful of other people, sharing is caring. Being in boarding school, the school diet is usually very limited, so any addition to the diet is always welcome. Our guest speaker, Mrs. Njogu, encouraged the girls to stand firm for what they believe in and to avoid bad behavior as such conduct erodes good morals. Below are some pictures from the ceremony. Mrs. Njogu, the guest speaker, issues the girls their graduation certificates. The Form 4 class is issued a success card from the Choice Club as they prepare for their final exams. Cake to celebrate the graduates and another for the Form 4 class. Cutting of the cakes assisted by Mrs. Njogu. Non-graduating students prepare dinner for the rest of the school. Beef stew mixed with Irish potatoes. ‘Chapati’ is a delicacy for...

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Final Exams and Graduations

Schools close this month. The Form 4 students will be sitting their final exams, then they will have completed secondary education. This will be a busy month for most of the schools. The administrators and teachers will see that the Form 1, 2 and 3 classes sit their end of term exams, first.  Afterwards, the schools will close, and those students will go home. The Form 4 students will be left behind to sit their final exams which will be complete in April. The Choice Club is preparing for graduation ceremonies which will take place before schools close. The members have completed the club curriculum despite the delays which occurred due to Covid. Valvisions has visited the 4 schools where we offer the mentorship programs to speak once again with our members about the skills we have taught and introduced. We want to prepare the girls for their ‘at home stays,’ to try and help keep them safe. Graduations are always fun for the students, and they look forward to these occasions. Due to the restrictions put in place because of Covid, the graduations this year will be lower key, though every member of the club will be issued a certificate. The last two topics we covered were on Human Rights and Female Genital Mutilation (“FGM”).  In two of our schools, we have a large community from the Masai tribe. The Masai are notorious for practicing FGM. What stood out predominantly from our discussions with the girls in both schools, was that the girls who are cut were not given an option to say no. The majority of these students confessed they were “cut” when they were very young and told that their culture dictates that all girls must be “cut”. When we showed the girls charts with pictures of the 3 different types of FGM, they were horrified. Despite being “cut,” they had no idea the damage that had actually been done to their bodies. No one explains what is happening during the procedure.  After seeing the charts, many of the girls began to understand why some of the girls in their communities bleed to death during “cutting” season. We prepared the charts to enlighten the girls in the hope that awareness would help them understand why their participation is essential to ensure that their daughters and younger sisters do not get “cut”. Valvisions prepared a chart depicting...

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Anti FGM Champions

FGM has physical, psychological, and social impacts on people’s lives. Dressed in colorful red, blue and white cloth, with necklaces of white beads adorning his chest, 32-year-old Ole Lelein Kanunga sings and dances with his fellow Masai warriors. He is carrying a long dark-brown stick, symbolizing that he is their leader. The dance, the attire, the symbolism — it’s all very traditional. But Ole Lelein is also a revolutionary. He wants to end the practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM, among the Masai in southern Kenya. We have worked with Lelein on a number of workshops with the Pokot girls under the Helen Valverde Scholarship program. He has been very instrumental in bringing change to his community. The Masai warriors referred to as Moran’s are taught that it is unacceptable to marry an uncircumcised woman. When they are ready for marriage, the family of the man will pick out a suitable wife for him. The wife to be will be cut and passed on to the man. Age does not really matter, from 8 years onwards the girl is ready for marriage. We became interested in Lelein’s story because he stood against the practice and is educating the Moran’s against it, too. He encourages the Masai to say no to FGM by marrying women who are not cut, and not to marry underage girls. Initially, he was not very popular in his community; the members could not understand why he would advocate against a practice that was part of their culture. Despite the ridicule and humiliation, he encountered, he pressed on and because of his efforts, there has been a lot of change within his community. Many of the girls now attend school, they have escaped the cut and have become a voice against FGM for the other girls in the community. Lelein also has to deal with the fact that he is a man campaigning against a practice widely considered a women’s affair. But he says he won’t give up.  Although Masai men tend to make all the decisions at the household level, mothers have a big role in the execution of FGM. They initiate, organize and prepare this rite of passage for their daughters, so an important aspect of the programs is to teach mothers and their daughters about the consequences of FGM. When he called The Choice Club for a function in his rural home, we...

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