Need: GIRLS WE CAN CENTRE
Adolescent girls in the rural areas rarely get an opportunity to learn about their sexuality. Lots of myths are created about sexuality which often leads to early pregnancy, marriage and school dropout. Young girls are particularly vulnerable as they are often neglected by the families and community. Community social fabrics that used to protect girls have been weakened thus exposing the girls to abuse and exploitation. The young adolescent lack information, confidence, motivation, self esteem and service provision which are important ingredient in building their resilience. More critical is that the girls do not have a safe space to meet and learn about their sexuality.
During the Girls Camp held in August 2010, the girls shared what they use during the menstruation: this is what they said: tissue paper, cotton wool, a piece of blanket or soft cloths, sanitary pads, Handkerchiefs are handy sometimes, I use socks, and If things are tough, I wear my three panties
During some practical session, some of the girls did not even want to draw, leave alone name the sex organ parts. ‘I am shocked. Iam not used to these terms.’ Eunice. Majority of girls said this was there first time to be taught about their sexuality in details. In school, it is just mentioned in passing, they said.
Atieno ,I dropped out of school in form 3 when I got pregnant at my first attempt of sex and then married got 2007. We stayed well with my husband in a short period things changed totally and life became tough and harder for me to stay in marriage. I was blessed with a boy but to raise food was terrible, things looked unanswerable for me and the only option was for me to go back home. While at home I decided to join TYSA programs and became one of the beneficiaries. I’m so happy that now I have gone back to school. .If I had gotten reproductive health information early, I believe I would have avoided early pregnancy
Mercy . It was at this encounter with TYSA that mercy remembers vividly to date. ‘I thought for a while. Why are all these girls and boys here! There is something good in this organization’ said Mercy. Since then Mercy has never looked back. She joined other girls with similar background, some even who had babies and were back to school. ‘Iam encouraged here. Even a teen mother has gone back to school to study! That is great! Exclaims Mercy
In 2008, Mercys’ desire to go for higher education grew day by day. With her O level grades, she could not access university education in Kenya. She consulted with TYSA Director on what she could do. Through TYSA network in East Africa, a high school was now available for her in Uganda. She enrolled in Mashariki High School in the out skirts of Kampala. It is here that she worked hard and got 2 principals and 3 pass of 13 points end of last year. Mercy is now a student at Moi University
People who have visited TYSA have made remarkable comments about how we engage the beneficiaries: When Marc from Globalgiving USA (one of the funding organization) visited TYSA, he was amazed and this is what he said. ‘It struck me that this is about much more than soccer, or sports. This is about building up strong willed women who can lead the nation. It's about reaching for that future together, as a team. It's kind of hard for me to explain what I am seeing, because there isn't anything like it in the USA that is similar, at least not so explicitly. This is not a mere sport. Belonging to this team is about developing character and building your future. We discipline the body so that we can discipline the mind, through school. And education gives you opportunities, a future."
The social fabrics that used to provide safe spaces for girls in the communities have been broken down. We no longer have ‘the grandmother’s house’ which was used by the girls to be counseled and educated on their sexuality. Girls no longer have secured space where they can discuss openly about their sexuality and challenges facing them.
The situations at home and schools are very difficult for the girls as evident by Emily , a 3rd born in a family of 8, brought up by a single a mother who has to brew and sell illicit brew. Emily is exposed to high risks and sexual exploitation at home which turns into a bar. She lucks the safe space at home to even change her clothes, shower and attend to her personal needs. The drunken men are a constant threat to her safety and privacy. ‘I wish we could have a better, safer, clean and girls friendly facility where our safety and privacy is secured. Where we can learn about our sexuality. Where we can access information and sanitary towels’ Emily
Faith family is landless. They have no land and works as casual laborers. Faith and her parents stay in one single room. Faith is 15 years. Her parents have been frustrating her probably to get her married to ease congestion in the house. ‘I vent my frustrations at the TYSA sports ground over the weekend. I wish there could a be a house near the field where we as girls can learn about sexuality, how to cope with family pressure, and also where I can get sanitary towels’ Faith