As some of our projects are funded through the Australian Government’s aid program, we are required to report back to the Government on the progress of these projects. One of these projects is the Imarisha project in Kenya, which seeks to build safer communities, particularly for women and children.
Our ANCP Program Manager, Vanessa Little, recently visited this project. Here, she shares her thoughts about her experience and how the community is experiencing change.
Our partner, the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Mt Kenya West, is committed to building the strength and resilience of their communities using a strengths-based approach and addressing issues such as Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Child Protection.
As part of this monitoring trip, we visited four communities in Nyeri and Laikipia counties, meeting with group representatives who have participated in ACK’s activities.
The groups have been trained as paralegals, with skills to resolve community disputes and a greater knowledge of the legal system and tools available. The groups are also trained on child rights and how to handle child protection issues. This has included members engaging with schools in their local areas to increase knowledge on child rights and how to address protection issues.
Training for teachers
As part of this project, ACK has also implemented training for teachers to increase awareness on child rights and equip them with counselling skills. Not only did the training provide new skills to identify issues and work more effectively with the children involved; it also helped them think differently as parents about how they interact with their children.
One teacher talked about a child with a physical condition which isolated the child from her peers, affecting her ability to make friends. Following the training the teacher wanted to find out the background to the condition. It then came out that she had been abused as a small child and the condition was a result of the trauma of the abuse. The child has since received medical treatment which has resolved the physical condition. The teacher was pleased to say that the child is now confident and happy, and no longer sits by herself in class. Stories like this were so encouraging to hear.
These GBV survivors have been able to set up savings and loans activities to pay for school fees and help them run their small businesses.
GBV survivors now able to increase their income
Another group we met was a GBV Survivors Group. This group was formed in June last year and meets once a month to support each other. They have decided to start savings and loans activities whereby each person in the group saves 50 Kenyan shillings per month ($0.70AUD) and uses those savings to lend to other group members. In August last year, the group balance was 1,800 shillings. In February this year that had increased to 13,000 shillings.
The loans have mainly been used to pay for school fees, and three members who operate a small business have taken loans to increase levels of their stock to sell.
With the training they have received, the group has found it useful to gain further understanding of the stages of child development, and are sharing this information with other young mothers.
I saw much hope in the community during this visit. People who have had the most traumatic struggles are now able to live lives of dignity and reach their God-given potential.