WFE is expanding, welcome Saga!

The team is expanding again! We are very excited to announce our newest recruit – Saga af Petersens. Saga has a BSc from Stockholm School of Economics and five years experience as a management consultant at BTS Group in New York. 

Saga will help us with raising funds and finding new opportunities. Saga has been a loyal supporter of WFE since the start and helped us receive one of our first corporate donations in 2015.

We happy to finally have her on the team!

Four Months in Kenya

Last year one of our founders temporarily relocated from her job at Microsoft Sweden to Nairobi where she divided her time between Microsoft and Women for Education. Read her own words about the four months in Kenya.

After four years of working with WFE from different locations outside Kenya I felt the need to go down and assess the impact our program is having on the ground. My boyfriend joined me and helped me with the work. The time we spent in Kenya left us with invaluable insights, grew a closer relationship to the girls in our program and gave us a better understanding of the problems you are facing as a student in Kenya in comparison to Europe.

Nairobi office life at Microsoft

Half of the week I worked at the Microsoft office in Nairobi and gained insight in what a Kenyan office is like. The colleagues where really friendly and welcomi

ng, that goes for everyone I met in Kenya. It was impossible to walk through the office in the morning without getting stuck chatting to someone. When I went for lunch at the office I just sat next to whomever was there, which Nordic people know could be awkward in our countries back home. Yes, the water was sometimes out, and the electricity went off occasionally, but you get used to it quite quickly and stop bothering about asking when it will go on because no one really knows and after a while it always comes back.

Our students Winnie, Faith, Beatrice and Diana Jackline

Living in Nairobi

Nairobi is an amazing city to live in, it is very green and with around 20 degrees all year around, quite ideal for a Swede. As there is no mentality of walking and rarely safe pavements so you get used to taking a car wherever you go. The traffic is insane so can get stuck for hours. I sometimes jumped onto a Boda Bodas (motorbike taxi) and slalomed through the traffic to make it to meetings when getting stuck in traffic jams.

Nairobi is also the hub for tech companies in the area and the amount of new tech start-ups in Nairobi is huge. Kenyan people in rural areas are going mobile before they even have access to electricity, and it is easier to pay with your phone (the innovative mobile transfer service M-Pesa) than with credit card.

Mentors and network

During our months on ground we managed to substantially expand our network of companies and professionals who can support our students. We recruited a range of new mentors (two from Microsoft!) to the program. The mentors are women from different backgrounds and ages, all Kenyan women with a huge willingness to support other girls and give back to the society.

New students and many shortlisted for next year’s intake

We also got the chance to interview the next round of students in our program, the two we selected enrolled at university two months ago. Catherine Mutio will be studying IT, a subject WFE is very supportive of given the great opportunities in Kenya for IT graduates (and women!). And the super cool Jacinta just started her studies in gender and development at Kenyatta University. I was blown away by both of them on their interviews; why? Because they both walked in to the room confidently and gave me a firm handshake. It is interesting how the first handshake really makes an impact, I just knew they were the type of women we were looking for.

Due to lack of funding we could only accept Jacinta and Catherine of the girls we interviewed. It was heartbreaking to having to say no to the others. We had one who wanted to study Environmental Studies and make sure Kenya incorporates sustainable rubbish systems (highly needed where the custom is to burn the rubbish). Another girl had been accepted to study IT and wanted to prove it is not a “boys-subject”. She loved playing computer games at the local internet café and being the brightest in the family of five brothers (the only one who completed high school), her family is counting on her. We have these girls, together with several other ambitious girls, shortlisted for next year’s’ intake. Now we have a huge task in front of us; to fundraise for as many of them as possible. Do you want to help us?

Workshops

During our months in Kenya we organized two training sessions. For the first one we went back to the village where our students grew up; Mutomo. A semi-arid village, six hours from Nairobi. Reaching the village includes three hours are on bumpy non-turmac roads – a ride our driver happily referred to as “Kenyan massage”.

In Mutomo we had a full day workshop where I trained the girls in personal development and delivered practical tips on how the girls should pitch themselves to employers, how they can increase their own competitiveness and how to deliver a good interview, CV and cover letter. “I am enough” was the mantra delivered to the girls. In the afternoon Lauryn, from our local partner, held a training about reproductive health together with a nurse from a nearby hospital. The mantra was changed to “I love my life”. It was amazing to see the students again and seeing how much they had developed since we first interviewed them in 2016. They had grown into young, brave, confident women.

A month later we arranged a leadership workshop in Nairobi. A collaborating organization,  Women Leadership Hub, flew down from Europe to arrange a Dynamic Leadership Workshop with our mentors, students and even I and Ebba from the WFE team, got a chance to participate. The workshop exceeded all expectations. During the three days everyone who participated (not only our students) grew as people, gained courage and confidence and above all, became empowered. We realized how valuable the physical meeting is, when meeting you get the chance to build stronger connections, that is not possibly when speaking on a shaky internet connection. Everyone left the workshop with new friends, role models and hearts filled with new opportunities.

Spending time with our students

However, the highlight of the trip was definitely spending time with our students. It was rewarding to see that the girls we interviewed in 2016 had developed into young confident women. This time I really had time to talk to them and getting to know them. I visited them at the university, got to see the lecturing halls and the huge campuses. We explored Nairobi; we went for hikes in the Ngong mountains, walks in the Karura forest and had sleepovers at my place.

I was amazed of how close bonds the girls in our group had grown. They barely knew each other before the program and today they are a tight group of friends who are really being there for each other. They are communicating through a WhatsApp group called Power Ladies (which I’m also in) where they talk about everything from how to get to the workshop to how they can empower more girls out there. After one of the workshops one of the students suggested that they would create a “Merry Go’round”, which is a small banking solution among friends. Everyone ships in 2 EUR a month to a common pot and that can be used when someone in the group needs a loan, or if they want to do help out in the community. This is very common among women in rural areas and started as a way to build up capital without a bank account.

We are getting closer to creating the network of women that we are aiming for and I am looking forward to see how the the team evolves.

Diana Hellen and Diana Jackline

General Observations

The thing I loved most about the country is the people. Everyone is very friendly and open. Kenyans have a good sense of humor and are happy to engage in a long chat about everything and nothing. They are also very honest which is very refreshing, not really like polite Swedish people who would wrap feedback or the truth in a polite sentence. The culture is very different, very colorful in many aspects and I love spending time with Kenyans. It is also a lot of chaos with a “pole pole” (take it easy in Swahili) mentality. Expect that things may not (rarely) go as planned or on time.

I am back in Sweden where the bus arrives on time and I don’t need to negotiate the price on my lunch. And although I am happy to be back in Sweden with family, friends and colleagues I am sad to leave such an amazing country. I still miss the friendly colleagues at the Nairobi office, the students in my NGO’s program, and the welcoming and generous culture.

Raising more money for new girls 

Now we are putting all our efforts into raising more money so we can support even more girls. In May we interviewed girls for our program. We met young ambitious girls who had big dreams. One wanted to study Environmental Studies and make sure Kenya incorporates sustainable rubbish systems and another one wants to study IT and prove it is not a ”boys-subject”. We could only accept two of the girls. The rest are still waiting for funding, unable to fulfill their dreams. Are you interested in supporting them?

New Team Members Sigrid and Ninna

Women for Education is excited to announce our two new team members – Sigrid Solvin and Ninna Thimmig who are both currently living in Nairobi! Ninna is specialized in HR and will be managing our mentorship program. Sigrid is a lawyer at the Government Offices of Sweden who will be in charge of our Kenyan legal work and will together with Ninna handle local activities in Kenya. Both Sigrid and Ninna are passionate about female empowerment and helping young women reach their full potential and we are sure they will contribute great things to Women for Education. We are so looking forward to working with them and exploring all the new opportunities that come with having team members working directly from Kenya!

It’s great to have you on board, Sigrid and Ninna!

Beatrice’s Internship

For the past two months one of our student’s Beatrice has been interning as a bookkeeper in the finance department of The Village Market. The Village Market is one of Eastern Africa’s largest shopping malls and entertainment complexes with over 150 stores.

As Beatrice is an Economics and Sociology student this internship has been relevant to and beneficial for her future career. She enjoys working with accounting and is happy for the opportunity to work for such a successful company that also has a commitment to supporting local handicraft businesses through weekly artisanal fairs.

”The internship has been of much help towards my academic and future experience towards finding job.”

She is now back at Egerton University to start her third academic year.

”I am happy and proud of the tireless efforts of the Women for Education group towards my university education. I am determined to always work hard and keep in touch with you.”

We are happy to have you in the program Beatrice, you are an inspiration to us all.

Meet our newest student Jacinta

We are very happy to announce the ambitious Jacinta, who is our second student to join the program this year. We were blown away on her interview when she told us about her determination to find her way to the university. After high school she started her own shop to get money for university fees and to support her family. Even though she ran the shop and have been working as a substitute teacher in primary schools it has not been enough to fund her education.

She is now studying Bachelor of Gender and Development at Kenyatta University. We are happy to support such an interesting subject and we have confidence in her future.

In Jacinta’s own words:

”I decided to pursue Gender and Development. Through gender studies I am able to analyse the needs of the society worldwide and come up with ideas to problem solving.”

She says the first weeks at Kenyatta University were confusing because the university area is huge (almost 80 000 students!) with many different offices. However, she loves the academic environment because it is filled with committed and ambitious people and everyone has been very helpful.

When Mikaela interviewed Jacinta in Mutomo in May she immediately knew that we needed to have Jacinta in the program.

”When she told me about how she as a young woman decided to start her own shop to save money for university and to support her family I knew she could do anything she set up her mind to do”

Jacinta, being able to sponsor you is a privilege for us. We are confident that you will do great things in the future and we will support you all the way.

Introducing Catherine!

We are very happy and proud to present an incredibly intelligent young woman, Catherine, who just joined the Women for Education program. This hardworking young woman from Mutomo, Kenya, has shown great academic achievements and determination throughout her life.

Mikaela from the WFE committee was very impressed by Catherine when she interviewed her in Mutomo:

”I immediately knew we wanted Catherine in the program when she entered the room with a confident and determined look in her eyes”

Since Catherine graduated high school she has been working in a computer shop and has been determined to save the money she needed to go to univeristy. In Catherine’s own words:
”I have never thought I would find myself at university. Being from a village where few girls make it to the university, I feel so happy and motivated that my goals are being achieved.”

Catherine will be studying IT, a subject Women for Education is very supportive of given the great opportunities in Kenya for IT graduates.

”Being an IT student, have realized that few girls go for this course. I’m in a class of 87 students, with less than 20 girls. As a woman, I feel that this will continue helping me learn how to be responsible. I am grateful to the Women for Education team for helping me to accept my place at university”

Catherine, we are very happy and proud to support you in your education and we believe you will achieve amazing things in the future!

Interview with our first graduate, Jackline!

This year our first student, Jackline Mumo, will be graduating! Jackline was in the first group of girls to enroll in the WFE program and has for the past four years been studying Food, Nutrition and Dietetics at Egerton University. Upon graduation Jackline looks forward to completing a one-year internship which enables her to obtain her practitioner license as a nutritionist. Of how WFE has helped her through her studies she says:

WFE has always been there for me, so concerned about my life, encouraging me to work hard through helping me to set goals on what I want to achieve in life and majorly through paying my university fees—I feel so loved and cared for. WFE has helped me in my personal growth; I am now a better person than I was before and so am so grateful.

Jackline also mentioned challenges and prejudice she faced at times studying nutrition.

The course is considered feminine because of the name food and so people associate food with females because they cook. It was a challenge because some of my friends doing other courses could criticize me that I came to university to learn cooking and so I could feel embarrassed. It could be because they didn’t understand what a nutrition course entails.

Jackline looks forward to joining the workforce and continuing to fight for women’s rights.

I am looking forward to mentoring lots of girls and to offer career guidance to help them realize their potential and be achievers in life […] and also to start paying the WFE loans so that the money can also benefit other girls the way it has benefited me.

Women for Education is so proud Jackline and we look forward to seeing what she will do in the future!

 

(Pictured: Jackline with her son Jayden)

Women for Education receives generous donation from Clifford Chance

Women for Education is delighted to announce that we have received a generous donation from Clifford Chance. Clifford Chance is an international law firm that gives its employees the opportunity to choose a charity for their Christmas gift every year. In 2017 WFE has been chosen as the Christmas Charity of Clifford Chance. Next to the donation, WFE also featured on the 2017 Christmas Card of Clifford Chance. Clifford Chance’s donation will go to further expanding the WFE program.

Learn more about Clifford Chance here.

Women for Education receives generous donation from Makaria

Women for Education is thrilled to announce that we have received a generous donation from the Makaria Foundation. Makaria is a Dutch charity foundation that grants financial support to individuals and organisations in the Netherlands as well as abroad. WFE will use Makaria’s charitable gift to fund the enrolment of more girls in our program.

Thank you Makaria!

 

(Pictured: Diana Hellen, Diana Jackline, Beatrice, Ebba our Chairwoman, Mikaela our Vice Chairwoman.)

Collaboration with Powerfans

Women for Education is excited to announce our new partnership with Powerfans!

Powerfans is a Swedish reseller of electricity and telecommunication contracts that shares a part of its revenue with a charity or sport association that its customers choose to support. Powerfans receives commissions from Swedish telecommunication companies such as Telia and Telenor and has generously pledged to share half of these commissions with Women for Education.

We look forward to starting a lasting and rewarding collaboration with Powerfans.

Learn more about Powerfans here.