Meet Hawa and Deka…adolescent girls now turned entrepreneurs.
By Muktar Muhumed
Hawa (13) and Deka (12) are adolescent girls living in Ibrahim Ure Village of Wajir County in Northern Kenya. In this region, girls’ education is not valued and early marriage for adolescent girls is a common practice.
Hawa and Deka are among girls enrolled into the DFID funded Adolescents Girls Initiative (AGI-K) program and whose parents have accepted to keep them in school.
In September 2015, these two siblings joined safe spaces as part of the AGI-K where they learned life skills including financial education.
In May 2016, they were each issued with home banks containing Ksh 300 and encouraged to save. With support from their mother, the two girls saved enough money which their mother invested and later bought two goats which now serve as source of income for the girls.
Story in the beneficiaries own words:
Fatuma Ali Mohamed a 26 year old mentor under the AGI-K programme says: “Adolescent girls in Wajir experience diverse forms of discrimination. Girls are married off early instead of going to school. Communities here hardly consider girls like Hawa and Deka capable of engaging in economic ventures. Through AGI-K, Hawa and Deka’s family decided to keep them in school and in safe spaces to learn so that they lead a better life in future.”
“In this village, the AGI-K safe space has provided an opportunity for 18 adolescent girls of ages 11-14 years including Hawa and Deka, to learn interesting topics on health, life skills and financial education. In May 2016, the girls were each issued with home banks containing Ksh 300 and encouraged to save,” says Fatuma.
Hawa says: “The financial education was very interesting. We learned how to dream big, why save, how to choose a saving goal, how to make a saving plan and save in a safe place. We were excited to share the interesting lessons and we took the home banks to our mother.”
Timira, the girls’ mother says she never had an opportunity to get an education and was at first reluctant to support the girls’ ideas as she wasn’t sure about their savings goal: “My parents did not educate me and I know that young girls are not used to having such strong desire for change. At first I thought the girls were joking, but after their repeated explanation I accepted and tried to support them in their plan to save and invest their money,” says Timira.
Timira says she invested the girls’ KES 600 money which was provided to them by Save the Children’s AGI-K project in buying and selling watermelon fruits and in August 2016, she had accumulated over KES 3,000 which she used to buy two goats each costing KES 1,500. “One goat belonged to Hawa and the other belonged to Deka,” says Timira.
The girls’ father who owns a herd of goats added the two goats to his herd and helped in taking them to graze.
Hawa says: “I was so excited when my goat gave birth! I want these goats to multiply so that in future I pay my school fees easily!”
The two girls each had Ksh 230 balance in their home banks at the time of the visit.
A challenge to other girls
“Hawa and Deka have set a challenge to other girls in their village to adopt the skills learnt in safe spaces and use them to improve their own livelihoods. The village elders and leaders recognize the impact the program is making to their girls,” says Fatuma the girls’ mentor
Mr. Elmoge the area chief says: “I got impressed with this project when it first started and to see our girls actively participating in their own change is very encouraging since these girls are the most vulnerable in the community.”
He adds: “With these kinds of skills the girls will be capable of managing their resources prudently, and establish economic independence as they transition through their adolescence period to adulthood without putting themselves through risky behaviours to survive.”
Hawa and Deka are among 664 adolescent girls who are active in safe spaces in the 20 villages across Wajir County where Save the Children is implementing the AGI-K program. Financial education for these girls is facilitated by a local female mentor.
Save the Children through the DFID-funded AGI-K program is supporting 2,250 girls to access both primary and secondary education through conditional cash transfers as an incentive to the households, schools and girls to routinely attend school and transition to the next level of education. In addition, About 1,831 girls in 40 villages attend weekly classes held in a safe space where they are taught by a trained female community member i.e. mentor on various health and life skills topics as well as financial education. These interventions have ensured that the girls do not only stay longer in school but also transition to the next level of education. In addition, many of these girls just like Deka and Hawa have improved knowledge on various health topics and basic financial management skills.
The Program is being implemented by a consortium led by Population council in partnership with African population Health and research centre (APHRC), Plan International, Save the Children and Itad. Save the Children is the implementing agency in Wajir while Plan international is the implementing partner in Kibera slums within Nairobi County whereas Population Council, APHRC and Itad are the research partners.