Getting to know you

Four weeks in and I feel like I was finally able to get a taste of the many facets of the Youth Department this past week. I attended a dialogue session called Orange Wednesdays at the Kenya based NGO KEFEADO that deals with issues surrounding women’s rights and gender violence. The topic for this week was youth involvement in Kenya, specifically the lack of youth led movements in Kenya. We discussed current events such as ethnic clashing happening near the border of Kisumu and recent IEBC protests, and why the youth have not taken a stand. It was a really interesting conversation to sit in on, although it was hard to participate because the discussion was specifically based around youth in Kenya. From what I gathered, elders are usually the ones at the forefront of political and social movements here in Kenya in contrast to the United States where young people are almost always the one leading and initiating movements. On Thursday we switched gears a little, Aubrey and I were able to attend a meeting on school health policies in western Kenya With Madame Janepher (coordinator for youth department). The ministry of health and the ministry of education were in attendance, as well as representatives from various NGOs. All parties gave their input on what gaps need to be filled in the current school health policy, and how they could go about doing it. A reoccurring issue that came up was sanitation and the spread of disease from lack of sanitation. Overall it was a very informative and productive meeting.

Friday was a little bit more somber. I accompanied Madame Janepher out into the field as she took care of some errands concerning one of her GBV (gender based violence) cases. This particular case involved a little girl, nine years old to be exact, who was raped and impregnated by her father. KMET had rescued her and found a children’s home for her to stay at for safe delivery of the child. The girl, who’s name I won’t share, safely delivered and a home was found for her in Kisumu until she could be sponsored to attend a boarding school far away. The dilemma now was getting the mother of the little girl to sign adoption papers so that the baby could also find a home. There was a lot of back and forth. We first visited a representative at the adoption agency, who thought was under the impression that the case was closed and that they were not supposed to be involved in this case because the children’s department had taken it over. We then traveled to the children’s home that would be housing the little girl for the time being, who also had to contact with the mother. By the end of the meeting we still had not gotten a hold of her mother, but at least plans were in order for her to be discharged and taken to her temporary home. This work is tough, but I can’t imagine a more qualified woman than Janepher. She tries her best to get justice for these girls, and she never lets up no matter how difficult the case is. She motivates everyone she comes in contact with, and always gives 100% no matter how exhausted or stressed she is. She empowers the vocational girls and makes sure that their voices are heard. This woman does it all. I just hope to one day be just as passionate as she is about her work.

Chentese Stewart ’18
Kenya

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