International Women’s Day is a day on which we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women and British charities are working with Kenyan communities to empower their women.
COCO is one such charity. Co-founded by former international athlete Steve Cram, COCO runs a number of projects in Kenya which help to give children the opportunity to receive an education, which provides them with the firm foundation necessary for future success.
This is particularly important for young girls, as education provides an effective way of tackling local issues such as female genital mutilation (FGM), early or forced marriage, and poverty.
On a recent visit to Mercy Primary School, one of COCO’s volunteers took some time to ask students about their lives and their experiences at school.
The school is located in a small rural community on the shores of Lake Victoria. It was founded by the community, who then sought to partner with COCO and Kenyan NGO Viagenco to support the development of the school.
One of the students the volunteers spoke to was 14-year-old Vivienne, who lives in the community close to the school with her father, brother and two sisters.
Vivienne likes going to school and learning new things.
COCO has helped the school in a number of ways, including providing toilets, so the students have better hygiene, but Vivienne hopes Mercy Primary School will eventually have a dormitory for girls like her, so they can sleep at the school and study in the evenings.
Vivienne wants to be a nurse when she is older. She is an extremely driven; when asked why she wants to be a nurse, Vivienne confidently replies “That’s my future.”
As far as the primary school is concerned, the partnership has already contributed towards the development of three nursery classrooms, a rainwater harvesting and safe drinking water system, composting toilets, a food forest and a sports field.
Furthermore, to help build towards the self-sustainability of the school in the longer term, a food forest has been established at the school to grow produce to provide food for students and teachers, with the surplus being sold to generate income. Similarly, microfinance loans have been distributed among parents to enable them to start businesses to generate income, and thus contribute towards the school.