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Kenya, Kawangware

Afrique

Assumption Education transformed lives

 
The Assumption sisters initiated a project to make a difference to the families at Kawangware in Nairobi (Kenya). The idea behind the project was to educate, empower and develop the talents of young women in the slums who hopefully will be a light in their own spheres to transform them. The opportunity of being close to the poor has been a blessing and grace in achieving this educational goal. Kawangware is one of the biggest slums in Nairobi that has grown so fast since early year 2000. The sisters’ convent is surrounded by slums. In a research we made, we came up with possible educational approaches :
  • Accompany families
  • Sessions on Self esteem & self awareness/empowerment
  • Communication Skills
  • Human rights and God’s rights/Justice & peace
  • Weaving project
We finally decided to initiate a weaving project for women that would incorporate the rest of the educational approaches we felt would facilitate in changing the moral life of the people in the slums. This project has gradually been taking root. Since 6th of April 2009 to 3rd December 2010, we have received three groups of trainees. The name of the group is “Uwezo Ninao Weavers”. A swahili phrase which means “I-have-the-ability Weavers”. This name was given to the centre by the second group after a discussion. The selection of the trainees for the first and second groups was done through interviews. Only two out of each group persevered to the end and acquired skills to weave several things.
The intake of the third group was announced in the parish church and the success of this group was due to :
  • Daily attendance at training classes, Monday to Friday
  • Strong will power for a better personal and family life
  • Display of some of the products during the announcements in the parish
  • Gradual realization of the women that they are capable and do have potential.
Within a period of two weeks the women were full of excitement to see what their own hands had made. Each one was amazed to see how the floor mats with different patterns came about. Each trainee kept the floor mat she had made as a souvenir of the work of her own hands. As they progressed to making table mats, kikoy, fabric dying and screen printing, they grew in self esteem and confidence. A sense of belonging to the group and self appreciation also developed in them. They were no longer strangers to one another but had formed a family and worked as a team. The absence of one of the members was a concern for all and this ended in a sharing of their family struggles. This opened a kind of informal education through the sharing of their lived experiences as they did the weaving. It is amazing to see how such sharing built trust among them and gave them new ways of looking at family issues, greater self respect and a deep desire to change for the better. The group “Uwezo Ninao Weavers” lived up to its name.
On 3rd December 2010, two trainees of the first group, two from the second group joined the seven of the third group, eleven in all for a ceremony during which they received certificates of confirmation of their weaving training. It was a high moment of their life. The women expressed their joy singing, dancing kissing their certificates, patting themselves, etc. Their remarks speak of hope for a new life :
  • I was delighted to work in such a group”
  • I was stressed for a long time but now I am happy to have met friends who have healed me”
  • This project is a God-given gift for women”
  • The group and the sisters have changed my life to be a better woman and mother”
  • True acceptance by my companions made me change step by step for the better”
Transformative education is possible in our small spheres and is a true empowerment for many. One of these women exclaimed “We did not only receive the training, but we were healed in many ways.” It also broadened their minds. We brought them to meet with other women’s groups on occasions like Women’s Day, exhibitions, etc. were they interacted with others and learned from them.
 
Sr. Nancy Nyawira, ra

East Africa

 



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