Partnerships empowering girls
Rtn. Roberta Porter eClub One member
Photo Jifunze International.
In the December edition of the Rotarian Magazine, we read of how in his address to the Rotary International Convention in June 2021, Shekhar Mehta urged Rotary members to put improving girls’ futures at the forefront of their work. "It is important that we empower girls," said Mehta, who was shortly to take office as the 2021-22 Rotary president, "as we all find that more often than not, the girl is disadvantaged. We will serve all children, but our laser focus will be specially on the girl."
In their 20th Celebration year Rotary eClub One has chosen to do just that by coming on board with an International Service project for schools in Kenya. The project it called ‘The Kitengela Joint Schools Sexual Health Initiative for the Athi River and Utumishi Schools’. The Kitengela region is roughly 90 minutes outside Nairobi where sexual assault is sadly very common and the normal school syllabus does not cover the education necessary to support the girls to protect themselves.
It is very important for both boys and girls to be included in the education to ensure that they can recognise and deal with inappropriate and dangerous behaviours not only when they are the victim but also when they witness such situations. The girls are so much more empowered by learning about their bodies, building self-esteem and gaining confidence. Confidence which will help produce much higher school grades and opportunities for the future.
This program includes
• Provision of health education, mainly puberty and sexual health education, including self-defence.
• Assistance for children experiencing domestic violence and sexual abuse.
• Assistance linking survivors to housing and health services.
• Bridging programs to direct survivors to government assistance in Kenya.
• Data collection on children affected, to help inform where future projects can be directed.
• Training of Champion staff in schools, so that members of staff will be trained to handle disclosures of violence / abuse, and provide support.
The project has significant support from numerous Rotary Clubs in Australia and the project leader is a Rotarian with the Rotary eClub of Outback Australia and the founder of the Jifunze International. Jifunze International www.jifunzeinternational.com sponsors and coordinates the educational and health initiatives provided by Kenyan health educators (Ujaama Africa).
This project consists of two data collection activities, with six two-hour lessons, 18 counselling sessions for students affected by sexual and domestic violence and a Champion program to train teachers within designated schools to be leaders in the programming. It runs over a period of approximately 2 months with follow up at a later date and will benefit 1300 students.
The project started at the end of Oct 2021 and will run through eClub One’s anniversary year.
An opportunity has been given for Rotary eClub One Rotarians (and on another occasion for Australian Rotary Clubs) to witness (through social platforms) the classes in progress. They have been given the chance to speak with the educators and get a real understanding of what the lessons involve.
This project is so much more special for Rotary eClub One because of the international involvement of Rotary Clubs such as the Darwin Sunrise Rotary Club, Townsville Central Rotary Club, Ross River Rotary Club Townsville, Rotary eClub of Outback Australia and the Rotaract Club of Kitengela.
Similar projects in other schools have been supported by the Rotary Club of Mundingburra, Rotary Club of Darwin South, Rotary Club of Mareeba and Rotary Club of Townsville Sunrise. Support has also come from the 2019 team with Rotary District 9550 (Australia) and the Days for Girls Camberwell and Fern Tree Gully Chapters.
If you would like to donate to support this special Rotary eClub One 20th Celebration project, and follow Shekhar Mehta’s focus on improving girls’ future please do so at https://tinyurl.com/4559bhxh