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Stories from the field

When 6 months turned into 2 years in Kenya

Andreia SILVA in Kenya
MTÜ Mondo
About the Project
In the past 6 months I was deployed by Mondo to support WEFOCO in Kenya has a Senior Gender and Education EUAV.

It was in september 2019 that my journey has an EUAV started, I was deployed in western Kenya to work has a disability and inclusion expert. I was supposed to stay for 6 months, but I ended up extending my deployment and then applied for a new project in Gender and Education. It has been already 2 years in Shianda, Kenya, and I am now about to complete my second deployment has a Gender and Education expert in WEFOCO organization in Shianda, Kenya. Shianda is located in Kakamega county. One of the leading counties with a high record of Gender Based Violence in Kenya.

In these project we decided to use a community lead approach (giving voice to the community) from the very beginning in order to build the project according to their needs. Together we identified the challenges, priority areas of intervention related to Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the community, and we got to work.   

We used a social accountability approach: Community Scorecards -   where GBV response services (Police, Health, Social Services, Education, Child Protection)  rated the quality of their services, together with the community representatives. From the scorecards we identified the priority areas to work on and built up an action plan that was implemented during the 6 months and continuously after I left.   

Using participatory approaches, I supported WEFOCO GBV ambassadors (GBVA) with capacity building on various topics related to gender, strengthening their team consistency and internal organization. It is with a smile on my face that I leave Shianda, seeing them working independently, following an organized working structure with monthly follow-up and planning meetings, and using a standardized and gender inclusive reporting system.   

Being an Occupational Therapist and Accessible communication expert I could not miss an inclusivity input in our work has a team of GBVA. GBV can happen to everyone, but women and girls with disability are particularly more vulnerable due to the gender and disability intersectionality. I organized together with collaboration of persons with disabilities from the community a training for the GBV Ambassadors on Disability inclusion in GBV programming. By the end of the two-day training, the GBVA became conscious of their own biases towards persons with disabilities. Some feedback received from the GBVA were: “It has helped me change my attitude towards persons with disability... to be positive” “they are all the same like other people, and should be involved in our activities”. 

Shianda is a rural area and there is little access to knowledge - especially related to GBV issues. As a solution to this lack of resources, we created a library of participatory tools to support local facilitators to conduct sessions on GBV. The tools will support the GBVA, local teachers and other community leaders and local organizations in raising awareness about Gender Equality and Human Rights in a funny, engaging and participatory way.

The GBVA are now working independently with the skills they have learned during the past 6 months and with previous volunteer deployments. They are now more recognized in the community, and they have strengthened their support network with the local police and other GBV response services. This allowed them  to prevent and respond to several cases of Gender Based Violence in Shianda.

GBV Ambassador's work is essential to continue breaking discriminatory attitudes, shifting minds for a more equality driven society and empowering communities to defend their human rights.  

In the beginning, I was nervous to work on Gender and Education in Kenya. I am not an expert on either, even my hosting organization was nervous about that. Now I know that when I put myself into something, I search, I prepare myself seeking for different sources of information and I deliver. By the end, all of us: me, hosting organization, sending and local community, we were proud of our journey together and all the mutual growth that came with it.

When we love what we do, and we are humble and willing to learn, the process happens naturally.

Asante Sana (Much Gratitude) to Mondo, Wefoco and Kenyan People for building up the person I am today after these 2 years in the field. And to EUAV initiative for these space for opportunities of mutual development. See you soon in South America, hopefully! :)

When we love what we do, and we are humble and willing to learn, the process happens naturally.