ActionAid Kenya has been working with women and girls from communities living in poverty and exclusion to increase awareness on laws governing women and girls rights. Bamburi Local Rights Programme in particular, has been championing for issues women and child rights since its inception in 2009. This move has seen the LRP partner with Kwacha Afrika (a local nongovernmental organization) and Sauti ya Wanawake to address issues of attitude and behaviour change towards education in Mwakirunge. Sauti ya wanawake is a vibrant group advocating for women and girls rights as well as curbing violence against women and girls (VAW/G)
Currently, the Bamburi LRP is working directly with primary schools and more than 50 teachers around Mwakirunge to run mentorship programmes as well as girls and boys forums. The LRP is also working closely with Sauti ya Wanawake movement to see girls go back to school even after dropping out due to issues of pregnancies and early marriages.
Among the many successes that this partnership between Bamburi LRP and Sauti ya Wanawake has achieved is to Convince 15 girls go back to school. This rare step was made possible by Mama Felis Salame Mbura from Colorado.
Maureen, Elvina and Mwanajuma are among the 15 girls who had dropped out due to pregnancy cases and are now back at Mwakirunge Secondary school. These girls are a little different from other students and have a testimony that there can be life after child pregnancy and marriages.
‘‘I sat for my KCPE exams in 2011.At this time, I had already conceived and was two months pregnant. I thought my life had come to an end. My parents were not happy with my actions and I felt there was no future. Later, the man who was responsible for my pregnancy decided to ask for my hand in marriage. My two years in marriage were anguishing and I could hardly cope with life. I therefore went back to my parents and pleaded for forgiveness. It is at this time that I was introduced to women and girls forum clubs out of schools which were organized by Bamburi Local rights program. These forums helped me get back to my senses and I asked my parents to give me a chance to go back to school. It didn’t matter how long I was married or out of school, I was only focused to change my life which could only happen through an education.’’ Maureen says.
With a smile on her face she adds, ‘‘my dream is to become a teacher. I hope by being one, I will teach and guide girls to make wise decisions. It’s also my dream to become a role model to girls in my community. Lastly, I thank my parents for giving me a chance to go back to school, Bamburi LRP and kwacha Afrika for encouraging and giving us good advice, which has gone a long way in changing our lives. I enjoy being back to school. It feels good. Thank you ActionAid’’