The shocking statistic that 66% of girls in Kibera trade sex-for-food to survive, some as early as age six, is devastating enough on paper. But the lived-reality of the rampant violence against women and girls that Shining Hope works with necessitates action. That's why this June, Shining Hope took on a new initiative: to provide the young female participants of the SHOFCO youth programming with the tools to protect their physical and emotional sexual health.
In addition to weekly soccer practice, for the past few months, over 20 SHOFCO junior girls (under 18) have been coming together on Sunday afternoons in the Shining Hope Community Center for facilitated workshops addressing all physical and emotional issues associated with growing up: puberty, menstruation, sexually-transmitted infections, contraception, sexual assault prevention and response, and self-esteem. In these interactive workshops, the girls have gotten the opportunity to create and discuss tough relationship scenarios, learn about different methods of protection, play games, and ask "anonymous questions." In addition, these workshops have been included monthly sanitary napkin distribution and weekly snacks.
Yesterday, we took a mini-field trip with the girls group to Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi for an afternoon of outdoor games and team-building. It was so much fun!
In the near future, we plan to host high-school peer-facilitators from Kibera trained in health education, and a guest speaker--a survivor of sexual assault from Kibera. In the more distant future, we hope to expand this program to provide more resources for these incredibly at-risk teens: our wish list includes annual school uniform distribution, art-therapy, and more field trips. Stay tuned!