In May of 2013, I began working with an incredible organization called Huru International.  In Swahili, Huru means Freedom.  Founded in Kenya in 2008, the mission of Huru International is to assist and empower adolescent girls by providing them with the resources and knowledge they need to complete their education and safeguard their health. In many parts of the world, poverty makes the cost of sanitary pads prohibitive for countless girls and young women, leading many to resort to unsafe substitutions, or to skip school for the duration of their periods. In response to this need, Huru has developed a high-quality reusable sanitary pad, produced locally and packaged into kits with other necessary products and HIV/AIDS prevention information.

As of October 2013, Huru has distributed free Huru Kits to more than 80,000 girls across Kenya. Having developed and piloted a proven model in Kenya, Huru is presently working to build upon its initial successes, and provide kits to underprivileged young women in urban slums and rural communities elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In October, I had the tremendous privilege of visiting Huru’s offices in Nairobi, between two of my trips to Malawi and Zabmia working with the United Nations Population Fund’s CONDOMIZE! Campaign.  I departed Kenya on International Day of the Girl Child and wrote the following post, which was published on the Huru International Blog that same day:

Image

In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11th International Day of the Girl Child, recognizing girls’ rights and the unique challenges that girls face around the world.  Today, this year, the focus is on Innovating for Girls’ Education; and as many of you know, this is a subject at the heart of all we do at Huru International.

All week long, the Huru community in Kenya has been buzzing with conversation leading up to International Day of the Girl Child.  Whether assembling Huru Kits in Mukuru Kwa Njenga or riding the Matatu to a Huru Kit distribution in Gatundo North, we have been asking ourselves the same question:  How can we reach more girls with our message of Huru, to let them know that they are not alone?  In Swahili, Huru means Freedom.  How can we give wings to our messages of hope and encouragement, letting them fly to into the hands and hearts of girls around the world who need them most?

Through our conversations with each other and with those in the community around us, we have put together a list of inspirational messages for girls around the world.  From our hearts in Kenya to yours: read these messages and know that every single one of your dreams is possible.  We believe in you!

Loise

Loise

“Wherever you are:  Be positive in everything that you do, feeling encouraged in each and every day.  You will end up changing the situations that you are in and living better lives for yourselves and for those who are around you.  So you should not feel like, ‘Maybe it was not meant for me.  Maybe I’m just not so lucky…’  You should know that there is a reason for every person, everywhere that they are placed.  Especially those that are in the slums in Africa, you should know that you can do better.  You can become better people, you can provide, you can help yourselves and help your communities, and your families and everyone that is around you.  Just work hard and believe in yourself.”

Agnes

Agnes

“I advise you to value your education first. Other things will come later. You know, when you are educated, there are so many opportunities – you need to go to school. That is the first thing that you need to. Go and work hard in school. Believe in the power of education. It is a road to everything that you want in life.”

Margaret

Margaret

“Girls, dream big and finish your school. Education first is very important. You work hard, and you will be protected.”

Doreen

Doreen

“I know both the good side of life and the bad side of life – I’ve had both of them. Growing up was not easy for me; going to school was not easy either. But everything is possible, despite what you go through. As long as you know where you want to be, you will always make it to get there. But if you lose hope along the way, you will never get there. So you just need to focus, in spite of whatever barriers you get along the way – they are just supposed to be a stepping stone for you to go to the next level. Any challenges are supposed to encourage you.”

Japhet

Japhet

“You have the same opportunities that boys have. You should never lose hope or have low self esteem. You should feel proud of yourself.”

Valentine

Valentine

“Appreciate who you are.  Just love yourself.  As you grow up, you should love yourself as a woman:  that is the message.  Because when a girl loves herself, she will protect herself.  She won’t be involved with peer pressure – because you love yourself.  And when you love yourself, you want the best for yourself.  Appreciate who you are, especially as you are growing up and especially at that age when we are staring our period.  Because that is the most important age in a girl’s life.  This is the age when you realize that you are growing up; and if you don’t love yourself, you might not achieve what you want.  This is the age when girls set their goals.  This is the age when we ask girls, ‘What do you want to be in the future?’  They really have a focus.  This is the message:  As you grow up, you should love yourself.  You should appreciate yourself.  Be bold and assertive about your dreams.”

Today, we are asking for your help to give these messages wings.  Please Like HURU on Facebook, follow @HuruKits on Twitter, share our stories and ask your friends to do the same.  Celebrate International Day of the Girl Child by helping to spread the message of HURU:  Empower girls. Period.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.huruinternational.org

Originally published on Huru International, circa October 2013

JLA – Micato Safaris

I love hearing from you –
post your questions & comments here,
circa anytime.  You can also
Like me on Facebook & Follow me on Twitter!

Advertisements