Girls account for the majority of children in Kenya. Most girls in Migori County do not attend school because of economic hardship or other adverse circumstances. To address this gap in girls’ education, wellbeing HDI, has developed a mentorship program to provide scholarships and mentoring to girls in Migori County. HDI has been providing mentorship services to vulnerable community in the last seven years, HDI is mentoring girls in the rural poverty stricken areas of the county to improve their social development. Poverty in most families in Kenya is very high, Migori County being one of the poorest and densely populated areas. Social development initiatives are sets of activities that rural girls engage in to make them grow and develop normally just like other girls. Rural girl’s social development is key to the success and sustainability of development initiatives in Migori County.
The program targets academically motivated girls who are orphaned or otherwise vulnerable, including those from economically disadvantaged families, who are physically disabled, and/or who are adversely affected by HIV/AIDS. This is done in accordance to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that every child has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and the right to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development
Mentoring activities promote strong academic results, self-esteem, and goal-setting. Homework clubs, workshops, field trips, sports, drama, and cultural activities give children opportunities to learn and grow. Mentors serve as positive role models and educate students about preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. Individual counselling provides the extra support that vulnerable children need to succeed.
During mentorship the girls are taken through protection where they are taken through steps aimed at ensuring that they are protected from neglect, abuse and exploitation. With the HIV scourge, most children left behind are usually used as house help as other children attend normal school. The project tries to ensure that all the supported girls are empowered to be able to understand that they also have a right to life and property. It involves taking the community through the child rights issues, registration of births and property inheritance.
Through partnership with the Department of Civil Registration, the project ensures the girls acquire birth certificates which have been a challenge for these children particularly when they are registering for National Examination. HDI supports strengthening local government structures which deal with child protection issues. The community members are sensitized on the children’s rights to enable the community members effectively deal with child protection issues within the community to help reduce incidences of child labour, early marriages and school drop outs along the lake.
The objectives of HDI are to encourage the enrolment and retention of the most vulnerable children in school, as well as to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and gender-equitable development. The program also strives to build local partner capacity and to increase democratic, transparent participation in education. Three cross-cutting themes—mentoring, HIV and AIDS, and parent and community participation—are woven into all elements of the program. Where possible, children affected by HIV/AIDS are given special consideration for scholarships. Scholarships and awareness-raising during mentoring increase the understanding of HIV/AIDS and mitigate its impacts. Community participation is strongly encouraged. Community members and parents often participate in local scholarship selection panels and in mentoring programs