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A Rose Blooms in Kangemi

Rose Angela, a Form 2 student who lives in Kenya’s Kangemi slums, is the first born of six children. When their mother died in 2010, Rose and her sister were adopted by an aunt. They suffered emotional and physical violence at the hands of their aunt, who favored her own children. “She used to mistreat me and my sister and we would stay alone,” recalls Rose. She and her sister had to toughen up because they knew that their mother was not coming back.

Things changed when, in March, 2017, University of Nairobi students working under CMMB’s DREAMS Innovation Challenge project – Tusaidie Wasichana Waelimike (Support Girls to Learn) – began providing mentorship sessions at Rose’s school.

Rose’s aunt would not buy sanitary towels, so Rose would miss school during her menstruation. The project got Rose reusable sanitary towels, which she says have changed her life. “I feel relaxed and confident because Afripads are comfortable, and I am able to attend classes even during my menstruation,” she adds.

Now that Rose is more sensitive to hygiene she tells her friends about the need to keep themselves clean. She also talks to them about defilement. Rape is common in the slums, where unemployed youths and older men try to have sex—often by force—with young girls.

Because of the mentorship program, Rose was able to help a friend who was being defiled by her father repeatedly. The friend was psychologically tortured and had become withdrawn. She finally told Rose about it after Rose kept asking what was wrong. The DREAMS mentors taught Rose and the other girls in the program about reporting procedures, so Rose was able to take immediate action. “I took [my friend] to the local chief and explained what was happening and why it was wrong. My friend got help and is back in school.”

Rose has become confident because the project has helped her make informed decisions and avoid peer pressure. Now Rose is focused on becoming a lawyer so that she can help girls in the slums. “I will work on the rights of women and the girl-child.” The DREAMS project has been instrumental in Rose’s choice of career, but more than that, Tusaidie Wasichana Waelimike has given Rose a new lease of life.

JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc., is the DREAMS Innovation Challenge Funds manager and in that role supports 46 DREAMS-IC winners selected to execute cutting-edge programs across the 10 countries. JSI provides overall program support for DREAMS–IC and technical assistance to implementing partners includes strengthening partners’ institutional capacity to manage awards in compliance with U.S. Government regulations and supporting them in reaching the DREAMS–IC goal to reduce the incidence of HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women.

For more information, visit www.cmmb.org. To learn more about the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, please visit www.dreamspartnership.org. This publication was funded through a grant from the United States Department of State as part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, managed by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI). The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State or JSI.