Well, the year is over half over and what a year it has been! While things may not have gone according to plan, I’m excited to share that we have continued to make an impact.
We started off the year strong with Pads with a Purpose – reaching over 500 young women before schools were closed in mid-March, due to the pandemic. Recently, we have been able to facilitate some small events, adhering to all local Covid-19 policies and recommendations. While small, the impact remains big on the young women who have participated!
Our pilot program – Amka – is also going strong! While we moved to a more virtual format in late March, we have continued our weekly meetings (via phone) and our monthly 1:1s with each of the 5 young women in our Cohort. In addition, each day they have receive challenges to complete, related to the weekly topic and each have individual projects they are working on, related to an area of interest. We are currently planning a small graduation ceremony for them in early September. Stay tuned for more of an update on our Amka program to be posted to our Facebook page next week!
In addition to our two programs, I’ve been using the (unplanned) extended time in Kenya to meet with various local partners and consider the path forward of To Africa with Love. I believe our two current programs – Pads with a Purpose and Amka – are making a real impact and am hoping to both sustain and grow them both. I’ve also been reflecting on the original aim of To Africa with Love – to connect, care and contribute to the people of Kenya and beyond – and allowing space for God to speak to my heart and provide His guidance on what He wants this organization to be.
Looking ahead, we plan to continue our Pads with a Purpose events as much as possible, and will continue to support our Amka Cohort, as they finish the initial phase of the program and move ahead towards applying to and taking a short course to help them further gain job-related skills. I am also excited to share that we’ve formally starting the process of registering To Africa with Love in the US, with a goal to reach 501c3 designation by the end of 2021. My hope is that this will further enable possible growth/funding opportunities and continue to evolve To Africa with Love on both sides of the globe. We also plan to continue to grow and strengthen our partner engagements and provide opportunities for those outside Kenya to get engaged, and those visiting Kenya to enhance their experience.
It goes without saying that this year certainly has not quite gone according to plan, but I continue to believe that God has a hand in everything, and that in everything there is a reason. I not only believe – but know – God is making a difference in the lives of those we have reached and remain forever grateful for the opportunity to serve in this way. While mine time in Kenya has been a bit more extended than planned this year, I believe I was planted here for a reason, and am using the time for His good.
I look forward to sharing more updates in the future and thank you for your continued prayers and support!
Peace and blessings,
In January To Africa with Love started a new program in Kenya called Amka, a social support and life skills development program, aimed at supporting some of the most vulnerable young women in Kenya, who have finished high school but that are not going to university.
We have piloted the program with a small group of five girls, and given the current environment, are continuing to look at ways to keep this program going, while also adhering to the various government and health recommendations around social distancing. To this point, I am reaching out to my network to solicit ideas and possible resources to help.
Currently, we have a weekly, ~4 hour session, during which the girls learn about various life skills (such as building confidence, trust, relationship management, problem solving, communication, critical thinking, goal setting, etc). We also plan weekly and monthly experiential learning types of activities, to continue to help these girls learn more about themselves and the world around them.
As part of the program, we did provide each of the girls with basic smart phones along with a small, regular data allowance, which provides them to access the Internet, use WhatsApp, make calls, etc. They do not have access to computers, laptops, tablets or other types of devices.
My ask of my network is, do you have thoughts, suggestions or possible resources that may be able to help us continue our efforts with these young women, during a time when we might not actually be able to physically be together? This may include access to learning platforms that would be possible to access on these simple smart phones. Ideally, a platform or resource that would allow for structured learning that would help these young women continue to learn and develop themselves.
They can speak and read English but are at a somewhat basic level (equivalent perhaps to the US 8th grade). Their learning level is also closer to that of a US 8th grader, and structured learning seems to work best (though I’m still aiming help them become more self-directed learners).
Given this program does not have funding (outside myself) we are limited from a budget standpoint (though I am open to increasing their data allowance).
In a regular feedback meeting with the parents of these young women last month, the biggest thing they asked of us is that we don’t give up on their daughters. They recognize they can be challenging to work with, but they also recognize how vulnerable they are, and what an opportunity Amka is providing them.
I’m doing everything I can to keep this commitment to both the parents and the young women and welcome any resources or ideas that you might have to help in this effort. I am still in Kenya now, but would be happy to also talk by phone possible ideas.
Thank you so much for your support of these young women, and to helping them persevere during this challenging time.