Rep Your Cause: Empowering Vulnerable Refugee Girls

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What cause are you representing and why is it important to highlight?

I would like to share an extremely important cause: the protection and empowerment of orphaned and separated refugee girls in Nairobi, Kenya. This is a vital issue, as young women and girl refugees are exceptionally vulnerable to gender and sexual-based violence, exploitation, limited employment opportunities, and very little access to quality education.

What new or innovative developments are taking place to either increase awareness or to address the issue itself?

The organization that I work for, Heshima Kenya, is the first and only organization working with East Africa’s most vulnerable refugees, orphaned and separated young women and their children. We were founded to fill a crucial gap in care that no other traditional aid agency was meeting. Our holistic model provides short and long-term support for the girls we serve through opportunities to access their human rights, experience economic success and skill development, and become leaders in their own communities.

At Heshima Kenya, we seek to meet every girl’s unique needs. We have a safe shelter that is not only a protected place to sleep, but also a community with around-the-clock care. Our staff accompany girls to medical appointments, provide counseling, advise on legal matters, support with childcare, and work with each individual girl to understand her distinct needs. Through our Girls’ Empowerment Project, girls receive childcare, education, vocational training, life skills, and the chance to earn an income through our scarf-making social enterprise, the Maisha Collective. Heshima Kenya truly provides the full spectrum of care for the most vulnerable of the world’s refugees and is the only organization dedicated to serving this population in Kenya.

How can YNPN members and supporters help or get more involved? (Think broadly)

There are many ways YNPN members and supporters can help and get more involved. A great place to start is to become familiar with the stories of the young women and girls in Heshima Kenya programs. Particularly today where the global refugee crisis is reaching unprecedented levels, it is vital to know and share the stories of refugees. You can read about Hawa’s journey here.

Another way to become more involved is by supporting the Maisha Collective. The Maisha Collective is Heshima Kenya’s social enterprise that fosters leadership and business management skills through the design and production of unique hand-dyed fabrics and textiles. 100% of the proceeds are reinvested into Heshima Kenya’s programs and of course to the girls directly. You can browse our beautiful collection here.

We would also love to invite YNPN members to get involved with our new auxiliary board, Heshima Ambassadors. Our Ambassadors are a group of global-minded young professionals who are passionate about raising funds and awareness to support the protection and empowerment of refugee girls, young women and their children in Kenya.   Email us at ambassadors@heshimakenya.org for more information.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about your cause?

At Heshima Kenya, we focus on refugee girls and young women not only because we recognize their unique vulnerabilities, but also because we passionately believe in their potential to transform communities. We know that when girls are given the space the space to heal, to learn, to collaborate, and to grow – what is possible is boundless.


 

Megan Singh Sidhu, Manager of Philanthropic Initiatives, Heshima Kenya

One thought on “Rep Your Cause: Empowering Vulnerable Refugee Girls

  1. Laura Allen
    October 19, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Thank you for sharing about your organization! It’s encouraging to hear about the aid that is being offered to some of the most vulnerable victims of the refugee crisis.