Me: (Super excited) I got the volunteer spot! And guess what! The center is in Eastleigh and it's youth based.
Friend: Yeei! You see, all you had to do was go for it. When do you start?
Me: Thursday. I'll be in the center on Thursday's and Friday because I don't have class. I'm still debating though because I'm not sure how long I will manage to commute. They aren't going to be providing transport.
Friend: That should not bother you. You can always come and stay at my place on Wednesday and Thursday night. It will be closer and cheaper.
Me: Really? Are you sure?
This is a story of kindness that would best describe the birth of Shine it On. At this point I didn't even know what primary health care was; let alone foresee the amount of love and passion I would develop towards matters youths and health. I was simply a bored girl, awaiting the end of lecturer's strike and looking for a place to gain experience. Funny how things do work out!
The next Thursday, at 10 am, I arrived at Family Health Option's Kenya's (FHOK) youth center in Eastleigh to start off what would be my first volunteer experience. I spent the day getting to know what FHOK does and also getting an idea of the options I had. I chose to be a volunteer Peer educator. This meant that I would be spending my Thursday's and Friday's teaching/ sharing sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) knowledge with teens and youths.
I did this for about three months before it became financially straining. Spending close to Ksh 3,000 a month, on a student budget, is not easy. But I didn't want to stop. I wanted to keep up the work. To keep advocating and making a difference in this small-little way. So, I started using the knowledge gained at FHOK to reach youths in Rongai.
When I tell you it wasn't easy at first; that would be an understatement. It was also around the time when there was so much debate on when children should start receiving education on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). I remember, my friend and I, walking close to two hours to reach one of the popular public schools in Quarry only for the headteacher to inform us that we needed a letter from the ministry and authorization from a number of other people:-(
It was a tough start but we couldn't stop. I couldn't stop. On one lazy afternoon, I visited the Rongai Mum's page on Facebook and posted a request for mum's to allow me have an SRHR educative session with their 11 to 21 year old teens. The conversation led me to their WhatsApp group and finally to the creation of a separate WhatsApp group where we would specifically discuss and prepare for the day, December 14th 2018. That's how we got Shine it On's first ray of light in regard to matters SRHR and health education.
And because amidst every ray of light there is darkness, it wasn't a very smooth ride. See you on our next post as we share our first ever health education session.
Thank you for reading and Stay Safe!