You Empower the Girl, You Empower the Entire Village

You Empower the Girl, You Empower the Entire Village

Written by Mercy, an alumnus of the HHF-L

My favorite Kenyan writer and blogger of all time (now author), Jackson Biko of Bikozulu succinctly puts it that everything is a story. He says some are beautifully told; with good beginnings and happy endings, others with sad or complicated endings. Others are told and the audience laughs, others the audience shake their head in angst. ‘The reactions of the audience notwithstanding, these stories have to be told.’ ~ Bikozulu.

Usually when I tell my story to any audience there’s one consistent major player who’s part in the story cannot be missed. I point with contentment it’s contribution in my life. I tell of how they took a chance on me and many others when all seemed lost and transformed our lives. 

(most recent pic with Mama Hanne in Nairobi)

Hanne Howard Fund – Lenana was my home for a decade+. As a young girl in their exceptional care, I learnt the power an empowered girl holds in the society. Hanne Howard (founder) herself, together with our program manager, Lucy being at the forefront showing us the capabilities of women in how they ran HHFL’s day-to-day was something we all admired. While still an active beneficiary at the home, the sessions I would enjoy most were the mentorship sessions by Mama Hanne (That’s our nickname for her), the ever so punctual ‘Current Affairs’ classes by Baba Ted (co-founder; Mr. Ted Horton) where we’d all gather and each read out loud a section of a write-up in a local newspaper then explain what we’d understood. Man, talk about struggling to express ourselves in English! Some of us would round off the English to the nearest mother-tongue! 😂😂 Our Art, reading, drama, music and computer classes led by Kwontec, Tr Nancy, Peter Muchene and Isaiah respectively we’re my favorite. Despite them all now being memories, I closely hold them dear to date. It might not have occurred to them then but these sessions did not only educate us but also empowered us to go into the world with courage and skill. 

HHFL was and still is a significant part of my story. It’s a story I will always tell.

(My graduation home reception at HHFL)

While sessions with the founders, teachers and support staff at HHFL really boosted our progress, there were times we would wish more people from the community would come mentor us. I was a young naïve girl who needed a ‘big sister’. A sister to come comfort and tell me that everything would be okay, guide me on where to direct my focus and give me hope that the opportunities out there were for me too – not just for other girls from family za masonko (rich kids). Had I had this ‘sister’, I would have probably managed to courageously sit through my first Communications Skills class at Strathmore University without feeling so bad that I was the only student who didn’t have a laptop at the time 😁. I spent the whole 3 hour session class wondering if I really would fit into that school. Anyway, that is a story for another day. I am here now, empowered, educated and elderly (a little bit 😜) and I feel strongly that I fit the ‘big sis’ description, don’t you think? 😎

Together with other amazing young adults (women & men), we have started a wonderful journey and relationship between ‘big sis/bro’ and ‘small sis’ called STELLAR GIRLS KENYA for the young adolescent girls at HHFL and those from the Lenana community too.
Allow me to tell you a little about it. 😊

WHO/WHAT IS ‘STELLAR GIRLS KENYA’? This is a mentorship and empowerment program for adolescent girls and young women in Lenana, Ngong Road – Nairobi area and beyond. Our objective is to EDUCATE, ELEVATE and EMPOWER a girl’s emotional, intellectual, mental, spiritual and social strengths with an intent to help her acquire skills that will allow her make informed choices and decisions in her life as a stellar girl.

WHY ‘STELLAR’? YOU ASK. By dictionary definition, ‘Stellar’ refers to a person or thing considered to be good/has the qualities of a star performer/relating to stars. Stellar Girls Kenya believes that every girl deserves to lead a stellar life and is committed to guide her tap into her strengths to see this realized. Every girl is a star! We are here to remind her that, everyday!

Mission: To educate, elevate and empower a young girl into the best version of herself.
Vision: To be a platform for positive and long-term positive change in the community.

WHO IS A STELLAR GIRL? SGK’s stellar girl is any girl ready and eager to be educated, elevated and empowered into the best version of herself.

WHO IS A STELLAR MENTOR? SGK identifies individuals or industry experts within the community and beyond, who are committed and dedicated to fostering positive change in the lives of adolescent girls and young women. A stellar mentor is a person (adult man or woman) who’s personal and career journey has been full of life lessons that they would in turn like to pass down to a stellar girl.

WHICH STELLAR TOPICS DO WE COVER? The mentorship topics we cover are not restricted to any particular area as the intention is to take an approach that ensures most, if not all areas of life are covered. However, notable topics of conversations include:

  • Education (formal & informal)/Academic success & its impact in life/goal setting
  • Menstrual health hygiene management,
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health – (Early marriages, Teenage Pregnancies, etc.
  • Women in leadership
  • Spirituality
  • Mental Health Management (Handing depression, anxiety, stress, etc.)
  • Relationships/Family
  • Drugs and Substance abuse
  • ICT Skills for women
  • Career – white & blue collar,
  • Talents and hobbies,
  • Income generation activities,
  • Social media use (pros & cons),
  • Motherhood & Parenting (for our young girls who are already mothers),
  • Social life – , etc.

We recently concluded a great introductory session dubbed “Stellar Girls Tujuane Meet-Up” andcaptured some moments of this day and shared it on our now ready and set Youtube channel –  (See video of session HERE).

With this introductory meet-up, we identified adolescent girls and young women (who fall into the target age group) at Hanne Howard Fund Lenana  who we gave priority to sign up. The program is voluntary in that NO girl was coerced to join. Surprisingly, all the girls that showed up for the meeting (from the Lenana community too) all signed up and were very punctual are ready to be mentored. 

(John Mutahi, a fellow alumnus addressing our gathering)

We managed to also collect all the girls’ basic data i.e. full names, contact details, area of residence, grade/education level, name of school, performance levels, parent/guardian contacts. It was very vital that we had this information for the purposes of setting up a database for our supporters and/or stellar mentors that will aide in following up with the girl’s progress.

As we all embark on this great graceful journey of growth, million little miracles and possibilities, I would like to raise a glass (of mango juice 😎) and repeat a powerful eminent slogan to our stellar girls saying, “Here’s to strong bold stellar women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!”

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