Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Day Celebrations in Mukuru

On 19th September 2014, our Bold Idea for Girls (BIG) Program held a Sexual and Reproductive  Health and Rights event in Mukuru kwa Ruben Center of HOPE.  This event was the idea of the  girls themselves from one of their sister walk sessions. Sister walks are a social innovation where the girls come together and form groups of 20 girls each to share their experiences, discuss challenges and suggest possible solutions. A survey conducted in November 2013 showed that 28% of the single girls in the Mukuru community had initiated motherhood and only 22% had comprehensive knowledge about safe sex.

HOPE worldwide Kenya, in partnership with Tupange, took up the ideas from the girls and organized  the event to bring the girls dreams to reality.

Colourful posters invited many to the venue. Services procided at no cost to the girls on the day included HIV counselling and testing, testing for sexually transmitted infections, cervical cancer screening as well as family planning advice.

A member of staff from Tupane gives a family planning talk

About 220 girls turned up at the event and accessed the services, including 160 girls who are already enrolled in the BIG program. The day was open to all girls between 15-24 years who could not be accommodated in the program but who live in Mukuru.The girls also had a chance to listen to a presentation on the  Sexual Offences Act according to the laws of Kenya.

The climax for the event was a  fashion show  as the girls exhibited the outfits they made in their fashion and design training as well as fancy hairstyles from the hair dressing class. It was followed by a  graduation ceremony for the peer leaders, with loud cheering for the ceritifate holders as they walked one by one to receive their award.

‘The girls who are exhibiting are very different from the girl who joined the program. They walk confidently with pride in their steps,’  said Mr. Julius Nguku, who is in charge of the BIG program.

On the catwalk in the beauty contest.....Meet Miss BIG 2014: Lydia Kavata, who is a BIG program peer leader

The BIG program is currently in its pilot phase which ends in October 2014. The project has been working with girls between 15 – 24 years in Mukuru informal settlement with a goal to transform their lives. This is done through  HIV prevention interventions, building their social capability and developing their business skills  in order for them to  have a source of livelihood.  Most of the girls are either school dropouts, single mothers,  and unemployed.  Through the BIG program, which is funded  by the Canadian Government through Grand Challenges Canada, there has been a notable difference in their lives.

The girls present a play to create awareness on sexual and reproductive health and rights

Early sexual activity puts girls at risk for unintended pregnancy since they are less likely to use contraceptives. At the same time, very young adolescents are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Reaching young people with information and services is critical in order for them to avoid infection and have a brighter future.