A few months ago I was reading a World Vision’s girl child report 2001 and a came across the statement “Girls are the world’s squandered gift. They are precious human beings with enormous potential, but across the world they are generally the last to have their basic needs met and the first to have the basic rights denied.”
This stirred my spirit to look for ways in which I could give girls in rural Kenya a chance to develop with dignity and integrity after all they are growing to be women who will be in charge of households and communities and if not empowered they will be unprepared to face the challenges of cultural stereotype and gender inequality.
This is the basis of Project Africa’s Sistar Camps. Every month of April, August and December, Project Africa organises a five day Sistar Camp for girls aged 8- 18 years old. The girls attend the camp for education and mentorship where they get a chance to learn from mentors on various issues ranging from sexuality to talent to education and careers etc.
From the 17 – 25 April 2009, Project Africa was honoured to host a total of 90 girls in our centres in Lungalunga where 38 girls were mentored in sexuality and in Kakamega, 52 girls were taught how to be creative writers.
In Lungalunga, the Sistar camp which was themed ‘Breaking the Silence’ saw girls asking questions with an aim to understand their body changes, love, sex and relationships amongst others.
At the camp we had loving and creative mentors as they stepped in to help two particular girls who broke the silence of issues that had affected them for so long. One particular girl broke the news to the mentors that she was raped when she was five years old. She has been living with this trauma all along. Another girl shared that she has been bleeding continuously and that made her hate being herself yet she did not know where to seek help.
Many times girls get half baked information about sex and dating, about careers and education and other but not about menstruation. According to the Project Africa Leaders in Lungalunga, Many times the message on menstruation is left for mothers and teachers who shy away from discussing sexuality with their daughters. This results in an effect where girls are so uninformed about their bodies and the physiological changes that occur at adolescence.
In Kakamega, with the help of a brilliant woman Juliet Maruru and her Collegue Wangui mentored the girls on creative writing. I got to know Juliet maruru through world pulse wire and it is an honour to network with women with such great talent as Juliet has. At the end of the camp, the girls in Kakamega were issued with certificates for their participation.
It is our hope in Project Africa that we will continue to reach out to girls from rural communities and giving them a chance to rediscover them selves.