Industrial Centers Of Hope
In October 2007, HOPE worldwide Kenya (HWWK) obtained a three- year funding from Wal-Mart Foundation to implement the Industrial Centers of HOPE (ICOH) program. The overriding goal of the program is to improve the welfare of factory workers especially in Wal-Mart supplying factories, and also uplift the standard of living for the workers dependants. Together, the partners, Wal-Mart, HOPE worldwide Kenya, and the factories have been contributing to the attainment of 5 out of the 8 global millennium development goals;
- Eradicating extreme poverty
- Promoting gender equality
- Combating HIV/AIDS
- Promoting environmental sustainability
- Global partnership for development.
Measured as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Kenya’s economic growth shrunk to 1.7% in the current financial year, the lowest in five years. The issue of poverty is compounded by HIV/AIDS. The unique nature of the Wal-Mart funded program has enabled the ‘triple-crisis’ of HIV/AIDS, poverty and unemployment to be addressed at the same time among the target populations.
The program is being implemented under three Strategic Objectives:
1. Improve the capacity of management and staff in factories to implement HIV/AID programs at their workplaces
2. Improve the entrepreneurial and vocational aptitude of communities around the factories targeting mostly workers’ families
3. Equip & educate youths and adults in the communities with HIV prevention and life-skills, improve care and support for children orphaned and/or vulnerable
The program has been implemented in four sites: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kitengela and Thika. HIV/AIDS and wellness programs were initiated in 16 factories (4 in each of the sites). Centers of HOPE facilitate community outreach activities, vocational and entrepreneurial skills training and educational support for children.
The Industrial Centers of HOPE are established where most of the workers live to facilitate their access to services such as:
- Voluntary Counseling & Testing
- Vocational and entrepreneurship skills training
- Community Resource Center
Vocational training offered includes an Entrepreneurial Skills and Peer Education trainings: In Kenya, most of the jobs available are for the more highly educated and affluent community members. Providing entrepreneurial skills to those we train in various vocations will make them more able to start their own enterprises in case they do not get salaried employment.
The vocational trainings that are provided include:
- Computer skills.
Scola Malonza is 22 years old and comes from a family of 9 siblings. Due to financial constraints her parents were not able to pay fees for secondary school education. Subsequently, she dropped out and resorted to doing menial jobs.
Her older brother works at the Kenya Trading EPZ (Export Processing Zone) Limited in Nairobi’s Industrial Area, one of the factories involved in the ICOH (Industrial Centers of HOPE) Program. When he heard of the Vocational training sponsored by ICOH at the St. Bakhita Mukuru Promotional Center, he enrolled Scola in the School’s Dressmaking class.
“Scola is the best student in class,” says one of her teachers. When she completes the Dressmaking Grade 3 Exams, the Institution is considering her sponsorship to the next level – Dressmaking Grade 2. “I look forward to establishing my own business some day!” declares a hopeful Scola.
Pauline Lasoni is in class 6 at Ngereza Primary School in Kitengela town. Her father works far away from home as a herdsman. Their Maasai community is predominantly nomadic pastoralists and they do not attach much importance to education of the girl child.
Pauline has five other siblings, four brothers and a sister. Their mother, Tokoiya, is illiterate and jobless but makes a living from peddling herbal medicine in Kitengela. Despite the mother’s efforts to provide for her, Pauline still needed school uniform and other educational materials.
The Industrial Centers of HOPE (ICOH) Program in July 2008 began an educational support plan for needy pupils at the school. Fortunately, she was selected to benefit from provision of uniform and tuition.
Additionally, being a member of the School Kidz Club - an initiative run by the Program to provide community-based psychosocial support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) - has greatly improved the self-esteem and enhanced the self-expression of this young lass. It is no wonder she is top in her class!
Davinchy bounces up the small stage holding a microphone. He is the Master of Ceremonies for an event - a talent show for young people in Kitengela, Kenya. Before the event ends, he will have passed information about the importance of VCT, the risks of multiple partners, and the dangers of drug use, along with other healthy living information. Apart from being an MC for events he is also an actor and loves it. He is realizing his dreams.
Davinchy’s real name is Kelvin Mwendwa Kithua and he has not always loved his life. He started peddling bhang when he was in high school in Kitengela and continued the trade after he finished school. In 2007 he visited the Youth Resource Centre at the Kitengela Centre of HOPE with the aim of selling drugs to the youth at the site. Activities in the centre aim at educating the youth about taking responsibility for their health and their life. The Centre located in Kitengela Township started operating in August 2007 and was officially launched in June 2008. It is supported by the Wal-Mart Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When Davinchy visited the centre he could not sell drugs there and got interested in what was being offered. Being charismatic and influential he was identified as a potential peer educator and in 2008 was trained by HWWK as a peer educator. Since then he has made it his personal mission to campaign against drug abuse. In the same year he trained in micro-entrepreneurship and started earning a living as a Master of Ceremonies for events. When he’s not being an MC he volunteers at the Kitengela Centre of HOPE.
In 2009, he wrote the following letter to HWWK:
The times with HWWK back in 2007 is what has made me who I am today. Back in the days I was a bhang peddler since school, people feared me because I was not the kind of person I used to be before I started using drugs. When I first saw the Centre, I knew it was a place that youth came to interact. So to me I knew I had won the battle, in my mind I was just counting how many rolls of bhang I was going to sell in a day in the particular place. Tip, wrong thought. I came to meet Mac-deck who introduced me to the services at the centre.
I was a kind of person that could attract people into doing something. We were trained in Peer Education and Magnet Theatre; we really gave a nice shot to Kitengela residents on condom use, importance of VCT and being faithful to one uninfected partner. Days turned into weeks, weeks into month. More training, more information and getting more skills.
Now it’s 2009 and I am so grateful of HWWK still volunteering with HOPE. Currently I am an Actor and a Master of Ceremonies. I pass information on safer sex practices during my activities e.g. weddings, house parties, road shows, concerts and talent shows. I have a life to be proud of...”