My travels to Kenya began in 2007, through an opportunity at work, and have continued extensively over the years. In 2017, after much prayer and contemplation I formalized my volunteer efforts in Kenya under To Africa with Love.
Currently, our efforts are focused on advancing the education and empowerment of young Kenyan women through two core programs: Pads with a Purpose and Amka.
Pads with a Purpose
Early on in my encounters in Kenya I saw many organizations providing beneficial information to young women about their bodies, but little efforts focused on another core part of their being – their hearts and souls. Pads with a Purpose seeks to motivate and inspire young women, through the creation and discussion of individual vision boards and emphasizes the message that God has a unique purpose for each of them in this world.
Each Pads with a Purpose event takes approximately 3 hours, to give the girls time to explore their vision, and find words and pictures from magazines provided, to document their vision. The young women also have an opportunity to share their vision boards with their peers and learn more about each other.
At the conclusion of the event, each girl receives a backpack which includes a 3-month supply of sanitary
pads, health education materials, a custom journal and pens and pencils to continue to document their thoughts and goals.
As of July 2020, Pads with a Purpose has reached over 3,500 young women across Nairobi and the surrounding area, and quantitative and qualitative feedback indicates that this event is having real, lasting impact on these young women.
"This event has helped boost my hope of becoming who I wish to be," - a Pads with a Purpose Participant
Meaning "wake up" in Swahili, Amka is a social support and skill development program aimed at helping vulnerable young women in Kenya make the transition from high school to “life.”
After high school, these girls often face tough challenges because they lack life skills such as critical-thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving required to help them navigate this new stage in their lives.
The Amka program consists of Weekly Meetings, Monthly Learning Activities, Service Projects, Daily Challenges, and Individual Projects; all designed to both help support skill development and instill and reinforce the behaviors needed to successfully navigate adulthood. Upon completion of the 9-month program, each graduate receives a contribution towards ongoing employment training in areas such as cooking, hairdressing and agriculture.
Amka launched in January 2020 with a pilot cohort of 5 young women. In addition to continuing work with the Cohort, during this period of Covid-19 restrictions, we have also been supporting each of their families, through monthly distribution of basic food supplies and other necessities.
Our Way of Working
A core value of To Africa with Love is working through local partnerships. To that end, we are proud of the network of partners with whom we work, including:
Vendors - all supplies for both Pads with a Purpose and Amka are procured locally, with the aim of promoting local businesses and contributing to the local economy. This also helps reduce overhead costs (e.g. of transporting supplies from the US).
Schools and Local Organizations - we have partnered with numerous local schools and community-based organizations in the hosting and facilitating of Pads with a Purpose events, and in the seeking of input and direction for our Amka program.
Parents - we work closely with the parents of those participating in our Amka program, to ensure alignment and engagement with the intent and purpose of the program.
Since its launch in 2017, I have personally funded the majority costs of our efforts (~$65,000), which has included both direct programming and operational costs. To continue our efforts through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, I am now seeking additional support.
For additional information on my back story and our programs in Kenya, please visit: www.tawl.org .
- Margaret Coker
- Arika Clark Alejo
- Michael Bychowski
- Diane Shaffer
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