I am woman, I am mother.
The tenacious Laura Musavi.
By Wendy Otieno, Linking and Learning Amplifier Officer – Kenya
CFK Africa (CFK) was co-founded in 2001 as “Carolina for Kibera” by Tabitha Festo, a Kenyan nurse based in Kibera, Salim Mohamed, a Kenyan community organizer, and Rye Barcott, a visiting US marine and student at the University of North Carolina. Carolina for Kibera (CFK) was set up to empower the community to take lead in finding solutions to their unique challenges and alleviate poverty being as it is practically the largest informal settlement in Africa. Through the Girls Empowerment Programme, the organisation has developed a project known as Funzo, focusing on helping teenage mothers and expectant youth to realise their right to education by encouraging them to re-enroll or remain in school even through pregnancy. The organization works to create a supportive community culture, mitigate stigma and discrimination related to teenage pregnancy, which is often the cause of school dropout and other social and economic challenges facing teenage mothers. The project has so far awarded 410 scholarships to young mothers to re-enroll in school. Of this number 321 have completed their education with 11 girls getting employment.
Laura recounts her own journey of self-actualization through Caroline for Kibera.
I joined CFK in 2018, by then I had dropped out of school and I was nursing a seven (7) month old baby. I was in my third year of high school and honestly, I had no hope of completing my studies which was my biggest determination. I was not in a position to afford the basic things for my child such as food, clothing or even diapers. It was a tough phase. All I did was cry myself out. I had given up in life and saw myself at a disadvantage to my community, parents and friends. When CFK recruited me through the Funzo project for teenage mothers, I grasped the opportunity to secure my future. I attended the safe spaces sessions with other teenage mothers, which was led by our mentors who trained us on different capacity strengthening building blocks including counselling, importance of education, contraceptives, child care, hygiene, and ways of avoiding stress and how to cope with the reality.
Throughout the training sessions, I used to go with my daughter and they were very accommodative. Whenever there was donation, I was lucky enough to receive it, and so far, I have received food stuff, monthly sanitary towel hygiene pack, and free medical care for my daughter and I. CFK has been my second family. After 3 months in the programme, we were asked to choose what we wanted to do in terms of education. The options were, going back to formal school or vocational training institutes. Both very good ideas. I opted for the latter and went to St. Charles Lwanga training centre and enrolled for food processing technology, a one-year course.
Luckily, I received attachment placement at Morning side restaurant for 3 months. Through my hard work and skills, I was transitioned into a full-time employee. I am now fully committed to my work and earning a decent living. I am now a person of substance in my family and community. My dream is to own a hotel, provide employment opportunities for the youth within my community who have no means of earning a living and changing their lives the same way CFK impacted mine.
Other snapshots of determined young mothers like Laura are captured HERE