In March 2018, the DREAMS project was introduced in Mathare, one of the informal settlements in Nairobi with the utmost goal of giving girls in the community a chance to realize and achieve their goals. Priorities were given to the most vulnerable young girls and women within the area. Jenipher Wangui was among the first beneficiaries of the project after recommendation from community leaders who were overseeing the process.
At the time, she was 13 years and in class seven at a primary school within the settlement. She had a negative reputation in the community, she was known for drugs abuse, running away from home, temporal marriages and had numerous records in the local police station. When she was enrolled in the project, the project staff tried to reach out and help with the support of the Children’s Office but the effort did not bear any fruits. Many times she was hiding or in police custody.
Despite interventions from the project counsellor, Jenipher’s behavior became worse. The local authority made a tough decision of sending her to Kirigiti approved school where unlawful minors are rehabilitated and later assimilated back to their communities. She was in her final years in primary school when she was admitted at Kirigiti approved school and when time to sit for her final examination came, she was supervised to do her examination. Her mother was quite relieved when her daughter was admitted at the approved school because she risked losing her.
When the examination results were announced and to everyone’s disbelieve, she had attained a score of 256 marks out of 500. She is fully transformed now and wants to join high school to further her education. She is determined and thankful for the initiative and to everyone who did not lose hope in her. She may have been lost but God gave her a new start and second chance in life.
A picture of Jenipher after completing her term at Kirigiti approved school
* DREAMS initiative is an ambitious partnership to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women (10-24yrs). The goal of DREAMS is to help girls develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women. It is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Girl Effect.