Ann Masharita, was amongst the first mentors to be engaged at HOPE worldwide Kenya (HWWK) DREAMS program in Mathare Ward.
She resides in Hospital Ward, one of the areas where the DREAMS project is implemented. She is well known in the community and was referral to HWWK by local authorities in Mathare for a volunteer opportunity. Her passion for community work and service to humanity was evident. Her story is inspiring to many young women in the community as she narrates to the Project Officer.
Figure 1: Mentor Ann in her office in Mathare updating beneficiary files
“I was born 30 years ago and raised in Mathare slums. Life in the slums was challenging.
I am a single mother and I have firsthand experience and a witness of both the good and vices of slum life. I am a survivor of gender based violence which resulted from the social and financial strains in making effort to fend for her child” she narrated with a sad look in her eyes.
“I took every moment as a learning opportunity thus making me stronger and better. I was enrolled for a mentorship training which i successfully completed and was certified. I emerged among the best in the training and got selected and was engaged as a mentor. I chose to mentor Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) aged 10-14 years. As a single mother, I knew I had something to offer from my own experience ’’ she confidently said.
In her mentorship journey, Ann has done exemplary well in behaviour change communication among the in-school adolescents and single mothers Social Asset Building (SAB) groups, where the AGYW meet weekly to learn different life skills. In 2018, her mentees were recognized as having exhibited notable change in behavior.
Previously, the girls in her group were deviant, catching the attention of local authorities, teachers and the parents. The group had a reputation of missing school and instead going to disco clubs and were uncontrollable. It took a while for her mentees to change by unlearning the negative behavior progressively. The community appreciates her work in helping the girls transform their lives.
Currently, all the AGYW she mentors are among the first in accessing services including school fees, uniforms and shoes, gender based violence and sexual transmitted infection screening and treatment where applicable, family planning information and uptake, risk reduction interventions and initiation to pre exposure prophylaxis and enrolment to vocational training. They have learnt income generating skills like soap making both for use and sale for economic empowerment to the AGYW.
Figure 2: Ann and the AGYW she mentors after receiving dignitary pack
The single mothers within her group appreciate her support. They have received vocation skills trainings, employment, capacity building from other partners, linking them to other services provided by partners within the locality. She has been the liaison person linking partners including Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) who offer reproductive health services and Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) who offered re-usable dignity packs to the AGYW.
Ann has contributed to the success of the DREAMS program which has earned her love and respect from the community. The AGYW easily relate and open up to her for support. Her efforts have been recognized not only by the DREAMS program team but also by the local authorities and partners. We celebrate her as a true heroine and behavior change ambassador.