Tuesday February 25, 2020

Kenyan girls pedal towards a better future

Kenyan girls take a step ahead towards their future

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Kakamega and Kisumu, Kenya, September 2, 2016: In Western Kenya, poverty has put girls at risk of becoming pregnant and dropping out of school. But a program in the region seeks to empower the girls by giving them transportation, in the form of bicycles. For VOA, Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kakamega and Kisumu, Kenya.

Loise Luseno, student, Kenya (VOA)
Loise Luseno, student, Kenya (VOA)

Loise Luseno, a local resident of Kenya talks of how she herself had to drop out of school last year because of lack of conveyance facilities. Their society anyway isn’t very supportive of girl education and this problem of commutation hampers their fututre furthermore. Her parents are just subistence farmers who earn $30 per month, barely enough for food, school fees and transportation.

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She also speaks of how teenage girls drop out of school because of their pregnancy as a common phenomena and how the motorbike riders in her area treat these girls when they’re seen walking to school. “They normally stop us on the road, when we’re on legs. They told us they would carry us. When they carry us, they start disturbing us to drop out of school which is not good.”

Manufacturing of the bicycles, at World Bicycle Relief (VOA)
Manufacturing of the bicycles, at World Bicycle Relief (VOA)

Ainea Ambulwa her school teacher, also a member of a part of the Bicycle Supervisor Committee and ensures that the girls maintain the bikes’ good condition. He states that the recurring poverty is a big challenge. When these girls or their family members use these bikes to carry heavy loads of items, they break and they can’t afford to service them.

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The World bicycle Relief, based in Chicago, USA, manufactures bicycles and distributes them to another charity called World Vision. In 2015, the group set up a production plant in Kenya. The cost of production of a single buffalo bicycle costs around $180, but with the help of donors, they have distributed more than 7000 bicycles countrywide, most of their recipients being girls. The owner, Peter Wechuli says, these bikes have certainly improved the girls’ lives but  the 100 kilometres distance of Kisumu from the plant remains a problem with limited resources but they aim to make the lives of these girls better for a brighter future.

This bicycle usage will not help the girls to complete their education, but also transport them into a better future as a better human being (VOA)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLi9m0H-yVE

 

  • Arya Sharan

    This is a great move and will help in empowering girls and will get them educated.

  • Manthra koliyer

    Women empowerment at its best!

Next Story

Kenya Leads a Movement to End FGM by 2023

Kenya Fighting to End Female Genital Mutilation by 2023

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FGM
Despite Kenya banning female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2011, the tradition of circumcising girls has continued in some ethnic communities. (Representational Image). Wikimedia Commons

By Rael Ombuor

Despite Kenya banning female genital mutilation in 2011, the tradition of circumcising girls has continued in some ethnic communities. President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed to end FGM by 2023, but activists say more needs to be done as millions of girls are still at risk of undergoing the cut.

At just seven years old, Sylvia Keis’ family told her she would be circumcised.

One day before the ceremony, Keis ran away from her home village of Ewaso Ngiro to the town of Narok — a three-hour walk.

FGM
A Masai girl holds a protest sign during the anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) run in Kilgoris, Kenya, April 21, 2007. VOA

“I just decided I better ran away even if I was going to die, because I had that emotion,” Keis said. “My father never took me to school and now he wants to circumcise me. After circumcision and you are not in school, what next? You will get married. I said I better ran away, whether I will get help or not.”

The Tasaru Girls Rescue Center gave Keis the shelter and support to avoid circumcision and stay in school.

The center’s 63-year-old founder, Agnes Pareiyo, has helped more than 1,000 girls escape genital mutilation since 1999.

Her mission to protect girls is a personal one, as her family put her through FGM when she was 14 years old.

“Because of what I went through, nobody could tell me that FGM was good,” Pareiyo said. “I did not know other effects, but I knew the pain I went through, the bleeding the whole day and nobody cared, they kept talking.”

Activists: Community, family support needed 

FGM
A man shows the logo of a T-shirt that reads “Stop the Cut” referring to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) during a social event advocating against harmful practices such as FGM at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya. VOA

Kenya banned FGM in 2011, but some ethnic groups like the Masai still see it as a traditional rite of womanhood before marriage.

The United Nations says one in five Kenyan women between 15 and 49 years old have been circumcised.

Activists say more needs to be done to reach the U.N. goal to end FGM worldwide by 2030.

“It is estimated that around 200 million girls in the world alive today have undergone one form of FGM or another globally,” said Anne Njuguna, Plan International’s Regional Disaster and Risk Management Specialist. “It is further estimated that 15 million more girls will undergo FGM by 2030, and these girls are between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. This is a huge number that we cannot allow to happen.”

Activists say more community and family support is needed to end FGM in Kenya.

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After final high school exams this year, Keis plans to return home for the first time in 11 years to reconcile with the family that tried to circumcise her.

She wants to share with them her dream of becoming a doctor, and show everyone in the village that girls should not be cut and are instead better off in school. (VOA)