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4 months 10 Highlights We share on the power of community .

Dear Partner & Colleague,

Big Hugs! Sending Love! We are so honored to share with you our first ever January to April newsletter , we hope that our experiences, will warm your hearts, keep us hopeful, strengthen your mind to continue making the world a better place for all of us. More than ever as we battle the #COVID19 virus and its impact in our lives.

As Msichana Empowerment Kuria turns 5 this year our efforts are bolder,our ambitions bigger, Our commitment deeper to keep moving forward together with you all our dear Donors,Partners, friends to achieve a world where girls are empowered and realizing there full potential.

Upwards and Onwards,

Training Young Women SRHR advocates

We trained 5 young women leaders with the support from the American Jewish World Service Grant, to equip them with information & skills on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR )issues; to End Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriage, Teen Pregnancy, Sexual violence, Period Stigma, Sexual education & sexuality.These Young Women & girls are at the frontline of distributing, accurate age appropriate SRHR information and providing linkage to services in the areas we work in Kuria. We recognize the impact this engagement has had on empowering young women and youth in general and leading to better SRHR outcomes. Our training has enhanced young women’s confidence and developed important life skills. In fact, our monthly feedback sessions have revealed that while participating as peer educators in our girl-led and focused SRHR program they became more confident, which enabled them to talk in community meetings and discuss issues around sexuality with their parents.

Home visits for gaps identification and Support

We visited 100 households for 120 adolescent girls partners in our programs. These learning visits help to serve as learning & feedback sessions for us and help inform our programming & decision making. For this year some of the lessons are; that Economic barriers continue to limit girls from accessing education & increasing risk of violence. For instance 100 out of the 120 girls shared that they do not frequently attend school due to lack of very worn out uniforms that exposes their bodies and makes them targets to shaming. Averagely our girls miss out up to a week of school which is sustained by lack of menstrual care essentials. When they remain at home there is an increased risk of being subjected to Female Genital Mutilation & Child Marriage.Secondly there is not enough food for the girls to eat at home.

Our Home visits has helped us to forge a strong partnership between the organization, girls and their parents; it also helps establish strong, positive communication. we, in turn, get a better idea of what a tremendous impact our programs are having in the lives of the girls we help to support, what are the changes they have seen in the community since our inception, the barriers the girls continue to face and what is needed to overcome the challenges.

Fundraising Training at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi Kenya

We honoured an invite to the Canadian High Commission through a referral from our friends at Orchid Project. We joined other civil society organizations across East Africa for 3 day learning aimed at equipping grassroots based & led organizations to leverage on funding opportunities to sustaining their very important work in their communities.

Strengthening our Financial Management Systems

Mid last year we partnered with Accounting For International Development (AFID),AFID offers accountants from around the world the opportunity to use their skills to support a broad range of non-profit grassroots organizations globally. Early this year Msichana Empowerment Kuria received the first ever placement from Accounting For International Development to support on financial reporting to our donors, preparation for the audit cash and bank reconciliation, mentorship on quick books, development of petty cash system, review of the financial policies and procedures, development of supportive documents. This assignment helped us to develop and enhance our team skills, confidence and potential, enabling us to ultimately have the financial management capacity we need to deliver more effective and sustainable programs to our many community partners whilst maintain good relations with donors.

National Youth Caravan to End Female Genital Mutilation

Msichana Empowerment Kuria participated in the first ever national youth caravan supported by UNFPA in Kenya & The Kenyan Government. The caravan traversed 4 counties namely Samburu, Isiolo, Meru and Embu and supporting community dialogues on the harm of FGM. We represented Migori County and the South Western region and supported our fellow youth leaders in facilitating conversation of the Key drivers of of FGM in the different communities. With varied drivers including poverty, culture, economy, acceptance, thrust for money, myths and misconceptions, stigma, lack of exposure, beliefs, source of income. We shared our best practices like community dialogues, building agency of girls which were adopted as a way forward . Key actions we carry beyond youth caravan is to support access to information on the harm of FGM to the community members, populate the National Plan of action to End FGM with community stakeholders, normalize the idea of the youth engaging with the policies, strategize on the already existing toll lines to rescue the girls, strengthening the girls & women's movement, building capacity of community stakeholders to strengthen reporting mechanism, continue involving men in the fight against FGM, continue using non- judgmental approach & media.

Marching with 200 girls to End Female Genital Mutilation on International Day to End FGM.

On the cold morning of February 6th, we marched with over 300 girls from different villages in Kuria at Nyabikongori Primary School in partnership with local partners; the Government of Kenya, Leonard Chesire, Fred Hollows Foundation, Kenya Relief & Zinduka . We marched singing solidarity songs "who runs the world, girls.....", we marched crying for hundreds of girls subjected to FGM in 2019 and thousands befores, dreams cut short, we marched to reclaim out bodies, we marched for our rights. As the world marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM we joined in it to amplify the voices of girls in Kuria. Today as more than 200 million girls and women have been subjected against FGM, we need bold actions to End FGM in our generation. Our day also included an inter-generational community dialogue during which we facilitated conversations with girls and the community members ;fathers,mothers & boys. This platform is the beginning of a series of scheduled community-led dialogues to End FGM we have planned this year. We will continue to support girls & communities to End Female Genital Mutilation.

Protesting for girls Rights on International Women's Day in Kenya Slums

On March 8th, we marched again this time round we marched with girls & young women from the informal settlements in Nairobi. This convening was organized by our Partners Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH). We marched for the rights of girls & young women. We marched against violence in the slums where rape is widespread, but rarely reported due to stigma, lack of access to the judicial system and a cultural normalization of sexual abuse.Rape isn’t an isolated brief act. survivors bear the life-changing effects – a pregnancy or a sexually-transmitted disease, immense trauma and an unwarranted sense of shame’. it is that estimated one in three girls in Kenya experience sexual violence but just 10% receive any professional help.

We marched to shine a light of period poverty following the research by Kenya's Ministry of Education, girls lose on average four school days every month, which translates to two weeks of learning each term. Over four years of high school, they lose on average 165 learning days. We for our fellow sister who committed suicide in 2019 because of period stigma.

Our COVID-19 Response for Menstrual Health, Child Marriage & Female Genital Mutilation

The last couple of months, the world has been struck by Corona Virus. This crisis has affected us all differently. Many countries are in "lock down" and most professionals are working remotely while health professionals are working long shifts to take care of those affected by the virus, other frontline workers like shopkeepers, farmers, community volunteers helping to address the impact of the virus. Since the beginning of the pandemic in Kenya we have been addressing menstrual healthcare for the most vulnerable girls in our community. For 5 weeks from our Menstrual Care banks now we have distributed 1,000 sanitary towels ( both reusable & 100% organic Cotton pads), 500 pairs of underwear, 1,000 bars of bathing & washing soap, 1,000 rolls of tissue papers to support a total of 500 vulnerable girls,we hope to support additional 1,000 adolescent girls. We set-up a different distributions systems in the community with the help of our adolescent champions, community health volunteers & The local chiefs. To identify the most vulnerable girls we relied our adolescent girls database, our community networks and girls referrals.

Our efforts to address Menstrual health would mean nothing without the generosity of our community of friends & supporters , who bought the menstrual essentials & sent the to us, transferring Bonga Points in the #BongaforGood to allow us redeem the items in local shops, donating money & skills. We love & appreciate you all, Asante sana. Over the next couple weeks we are looking to partner with organizations & individuals to help develop long term solutions to menstrual health for the most vulnerable girls during the crisis & post corona virus since most of our girls still come from very vulnerable homes who will prioritize other basic essentials & rebuilding their lives. Our efforts have been highlighted on local media & Ashoka read it here.

During distribution of the menstrual essentials we use these platforms to identify girls at risk or affected by Child Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, Sexual Exploitation & abuse. We have also set up a Whatsapp group of community health volunteers & young women champions to coordinate efforts to monitor these cases to ensure they are reported & follow -up is made. By end of April we have intervened of 15 cases of attempted Child marriage & following up on 20 cases of child defilement. We are afraid of how many girls, children & vulnerable women are at risk of violence and we wont get to help them because of isolation.

This comes at a time where the Kenyan government under the reported an increased in cases of sexual, child & gender abuse across the country and following caution from Feminist Organizations & professionals highlighting that epidemics like other crises situations make existing inequalities & discrimination worse. The consequences of the Corona Virus on Child Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, Sexual, Child & Gender Based violence has bee addressed by a few organizations.

We are Global Giving Partners

We are extremely excited about this milestone, thank you very much to everyone who support our efforts, we join a global network of changemakers. . We signed up with Globalgiving afew months ago as an effort to diversify our funding, in March we received an invitation to participate in March Globalgiving accelerator program. The challenge was to raise USD 5,000 from 40 donors, in 15 days. We raised a total of USD 2,500 with 80 donors and became eligible to be Globalgiving partners. We are still required to reach the USD 5,000 mark. Please join in & support us by donating direclty to our Globalgiving Campaing here. Full details about the project are here.

Our Commitment is to utilize every little penny to reduced the risk of girls to be subjected to FGM & ultimately End FGM especially now during this time of crisis. Due every three months, we will share short project reports they are narrative updates that show you our donors the impact made possible by your support. They will be posted on the GlobalGiving website as well as emailed to you. Please support us by donating here.

ASHOKA AND UNICEF- VOICES OF YOUTH featured our work

We excited that our work to respond to the menstrual health of vulnerable girls has been featured on both Ashoka here and UNICEF here. We honoured to be highlighted among incredible Young Leaders across the Global responding to urgent needs of the most vulnerable in their communities, stopping the further spread of COVID-19 and creating solutions for education healthcare.

IN SOLIDARITY, MSICHANA EMPOWERMENT KURIA