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Day 8

I’ve started work at a non-profit called Western Education Advocacy and Empowerment Program Kenya (WEAEP-K). Their mission is to support and empower women, girls and young children. Half of the program works on women’s issues such as economic empowerment, domestic violence, literacy training, etc. The other half focuses on street children, orphans and those that support them.

march12_cow_office

Today I had an amazing experience where I accompanied one of the staff members to a women’s literacy group meeting. At these meetings older women gather to learn how to read and write; they also participate in revolving funds. These are funds the women use as a savings account to then access in times of emergency or to create a small enterprise. Most of the time these loans support the purchase of seeds; they are very small loans but they can help the women become self-sufficient.

The group was gathered next to a small garden sitting on benches made of split trees. A community volunteer trained by WEAEP-K led the discussion they were having on rights and legal terminology on a chalkboard propped up against a fence post. The women were all dressed in brightly colored lassos, which are large bolts of fabric they use both as skirts and head-wraps. After introductions were made the women sang a song to me to welcome me into their group. It was such a wonderful feeling to be so graciously accepted; definitely a moment I will never forget.

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Although the women’s groups primarily focus on literacy education, they also discuss topics such as family planning, human rights, gender equality, HIV prevention, nutrition and money management. Volunteers who have been trained by WEAEP-K lead the meetings and then report back to the staff members. The staff members manage the revolving fund aspect of the group; working with the group’s treasurer on making sure balances are kept current and everyone is participating properly.

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