Lijinete Network Women’s Project

 

Lijinete means childhood in Amharic. This project helps women reclaim power over their lives, after experiencing marriage and motherhood in their childhood.

This project, in partnership with Link Ethiopia, and our partner, FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development) has created a network of women and girls who have been affected by child marriage, so they can reach out and support other girls in their areas who may be at risk of the same.

In August 2018, 15 women affected by child marriage and motherhood received leadership and confidence building training; learning about topics such as understanding how gender affects roles in society, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and how to support girls who are facing similar issues, or at risk of dropping out of school.

They also received business training and a business start-up loan to enable them to be financially independent and support their children to stay in education.

“What happened in the past is past. I would like to change my life now and for my children to finish school and get a successful job.”

Lijinete Network Member

The Network members now meet monthly for discussion and peer support so that they  can effectively support other girls in their communities. At the end of the 12 month project, we will host a community awareness meeting for the network members  to report to elders in the community and the social affairs office about the type of issues girls are facing, and help to find solutions.

Why is this project important?

Although child marriage is illegal in Ethiopia two in five girls are married before their 18th birthday and nearly one in five girls marries before the age of 15. The rates vary by region but in the Amhara region, where we work, it is particularly prevalent. The Amhara region has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

Often girls are married off young because of economic pressures. Parents, especially those in poverty, marry off their daughters young so they will have one less mouth to feed. This project was informed by the PEER research No Girl Should Be A Child Bride which FORWARD carried out in the Tikil Dingay area of the Amhara region, which can be read here.

We want the young girls and women to benefit from economic empowerment to put them back in control of their own futures and to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to prevent child marriage from happening to further girls in their community.

“I would like to create more business in addition to what I am currently doing in order to grow and transform; I would also like to help other girls to change like I do.”

Lijinete Network Member

Read about our other projects to support girls and women in the community here.

 

The Kindu Trust’s 20 Year Anniversary!

 

This February 8th, The Kindu Trust, joined with our supporters to celebrate 20 years working to support children in Ethiopia. The event was held jointly with our partner, Link Ethiopia, who have also been working to support children through education in Ethiopia for over 20 years.

The event was held at the Embassy of Ethiopia in London with over 180 supporters attending. Our Chair of Trustees, Ashley England, introduced the evening and the Deputy Head of Mission, Ababi Demissie, spoke about the value of development through education before speeches by Link Ethiopia’s Country Director, Haile Ayano, and Chief Executive, Caroline Walker, who also manages the Kindu Trust.

Haile spoke about the variety of experiences he has had working for Link Ethiopia over 8 years, commenting “As an Ethiopian citizen, I would like to use this opportunity to say thank you to all supporters of Link Ethiopia and the Kindu Trust for committing yourselves to these development works and to changing the lives of communities in Ethiopia. The event was part of a three week visit to the UK for Haile during which he has been visiting our link schools and other partners, he spoke briefly about what he will be taking away from his visit. “My visit has given me an opportunity to carefully observe and reflect on what we should be doing for education in Ethiopia, and it also made me question how far we need to go in order to provide a quality education that children deserve and which will enable the youth to achieve their aspirations in life. There isn’t any easy answer to this question, but, no matter how hard it will be, with a collective effort and with the continued support of all donors, and everyone concerned, we can achieve our aspiration for the holistic development of communities, for those who are marginalised and aren’t able to afford the basics”.

Our UK Manager, Caroline explained that as a charity we are always evaluating our work, assessing for improvements to be made in the future, so the evening was an important opportunity to pause and to celebrate achievements from the last 20 years. She noted the charity was particularly pleased to be celebrating with so many of our supporters, since they are the reason any of our work has been possible.

She also spoke about the value that each of the charities brings to each other through working in partnership “Link Ethiopia and the Kindu Trust both put children at the heart of their mission and recognise that education is the key factor to break the cycle of poverty, and transform lives. For the past 23 years Link Ethiopia has focused on working within the education system to improve access to quality education. Meanwhile, the Kindu Trust has been working for 20 years to ensure children are able to remain in education by focusing on their home life and community. Both of these approaches are fundamental to helping children succeed through education: A child can only get to school if their home life enables it, and they can only succeed at school if the environment and quality of education is adequate”.

She introduced a project that The Kindu Trust and Link Ethiopia have been working on jointly – Gondar’s first Girls’ Football Team.

 

The team aims to build the self-confidence of girls and develop leadership and team building skills that will benefit them in the future. Caroline spoke about feedback from a recent evaluation of the programme; the team members and their mothers spoke about how the girls were stronger, more confident, more organised and focused in their school work and that they had developed a network where they felt safe to give and receive feedback on a variety of topics. They were even better at playing football! If projects like these can increase young women’s confidence to stay in school and participate in lessons, they will be more likely to complete their education and have better opportunities to support themselves later in life”. You can donate to the Girls’ Football Team project here.

Following the speeches, it was time for celebration, there was live music from Hanisha Solomon and her band who played original Ethiopian music and led some lively eskista dancing with the audience.

Traditional Ethiopian food was served from Tutu’s Ethiopian Table and there was plentiful wine from the bar.

Displays showed key milestones in the histories of the charities, while our latest annual reports were available for review for the first time.

Our team of staff and trustees were so pleased to be able to meet with our supporters, some who we had seen before in Ethiopia and some who we had corresponded with by email and could finally put a face to. We are so grateful to everyone who came for making the event so special and look forward to meeting those who couldn’t make it to the event in the future.

Our thanks also go to Ethiopian Airlines, the Embassy of Ethiopia, Hanisha Solomon and Tutu’s Ethiopian Table who supported the event. You can see all the photos of the event on our facebook page.

Photo Journey: Our Sponsorship Coordinator’s first visit to Ethiopia!

 

After a long delay at Heathrow on an unusually sunny Sunday in London my plane finally takes off – off to Ethiopia!

Kindu Trust manager Marta comes to collect me from Gondar Airport after having missed my connecting flight in Addis Ababa and takes me to Yohannes Guesthouse. We visit the Kindu Trust office which we share with our sister charity Link Ethiopia. That evening I have a meal with the Ethiopian staff of both organisations and UK volunteer Sabina.

The next morning I walk to the office; passing AG Hotel and Dashen Bank, down the steps (each afternoon, climbing those same steps leaves me out of breath – Gondar is on 2,133 meters altitude), passing Oil Libya gas station on the way to the Piazza. After a fresh mango juice for breakfast at Tele Cafe, under the post office, I pass the old Pepsi Factory and then turn left on the corner of Coffee House Cafe. At the end of the street lays the compound with Cafe Valentine in the garden, where staff members frequently have an afternoon coffee or breakfast injera.

Snowy is the “guard” dog who enjoys her days being petted by children and sleeping in the shade the bajaj provides. The grand tour of the compound included the Kindu Playgroup headed by Chekula and her 3 year old daughter Yabsera. The kitchen, ruled by Wubit, the kitchen manager, who cooks up a storm with the help of cook Askalech every lunch time and prepare meals for children visiting the Kindu Klub and Playgroups.

One the first floor are the shared Kindu and Link offices and on the top floor is the Kindu Klub, a big space with computers and book cases filled with reading materials. Asfew, the Kindu Klub worker, teaches English and oversees the Klub, which always finishes with a communal meal and lots of giggles.

The office is busy, the sounds of children playing nearby is constant and there’s a continuous stream of sponsored children and their family members walking through the door. After a day in Ethiopia, I start to run into sponsored children or their parents on the streets. Gondar feels like a small and friendly town.

My two weeks working from the Gondar office are over before I’ve learned to say “amesegnalehu” (thank you) without a stutter and the end is celebrated with a coffee ceremony.

I can’t wait to return to Gondar, and in the meantime I’ll use the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans to take me back whenever I want to be reminded of the two weeks spent in Ethiopia.

A Day Training with the Girls’ Football Team

This June our Sponsorship Coordinator, Michou Gerits, who joined our UK team in May 2017, made her first visit to Ethiopia! We will be sharing her experiences of the trip soon but below she tells us what it’s like to join our Gondar Girls’ Football Team for a day of training.

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“On Saturday afternoon at 3pm I walked into the compound of Hibret Elementary School, close to the Commercial Bank and AG Hotel. A barren football pitch with goals made out of wooden poles was what I found along with 18 girls in Arsenal jerseys (and two goalies in Chelsea jerseys) and a strict but motivated football coach.

Coach Aster is a PE teacher at a nearby primary school and strongly believes in the benefits football and team sports for these young girls.

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The girls started their warming up under the watchful eye of Coach Aster, who explained the first time in 8 months she wasn’t warming up with the team. She wanted them to do it on their own and give the team responsibility over the warming up. She would occasionally shout directions at them while we stood in the shade of a tree and the team ran up and down in the sun.

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After this they did dribbling exercises and practiced heading the ball, some fearless and successful – others more hesitant. Then Coach Aster, also known as “Mama Football”, divided the girls into two teams who played each other.

The training lasted for 2 hours and by the end the sky was overcast and it started to rain. We packed up the balls and a few of the girls dropped them at the house of one of the team members whose home moonlights as a storing facility. We all walked together to a local hotel where the girls shared a meal.

There are many cafés and restaurants in Gondar where locals eat and meet for a cup of coffee or a local beer. For most of these girls eating at a restaurant is rarity and a luxury they enjoy very much. They all got a bottle of Coke or Fanta, another luxury, and a big plate of pasta, there was a choice of macaroni or spaghetti with a little baguette. Chatting with the girls, they confirmed that they enjoyed being part of a team very much and hope to play official matches and attend tournaments in the future.

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All the team members are sponsored children or siblings of sponsored children and therefore from vulnerable families. Coach Aster explained to me that she believes being part of this team helps the girls not only with their football skills, physical fitness and health but also with concentration and discipline in school. Coach Aster worries some of these girls suffer from inferiority complexes or feel embarrassed about their poor background and hopes the Kindu Team will give them the confidence to succeed academically too.

The girls train twice a week, Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at 10am. On Sunday mornings, after another 2 hour training session they take a shower and get another meal.

During my visit the Kindu Trust also delivered extra resources we had brought for the the Girls’ Football Team: re-usable period packs as part of our partnership with Days for Girls UK, so that the girls don’t have to miss out on school or training during their period, and sports bras – which we hadn’t included in the budget based on the boy’s football team!”

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The Girls’ Football team is part funded by a grant from TUUT and the rest is covered by general donations. If you would like to support the project, click here to donate. Thank you!

The Selection

The Girls’ Football Team selection has been made… A little over a year after announcing our plans to fundraise the project has commenced.

We started by hiring a professional female football coach. Aster is a sports teacher who now spends two afternoons a week with the team.

Some sports clothing was donated and, and some informal training with Coach Aster began with 20 girls all aged between 13 and 17 years old. Once the project began the funding enabled us to buy a complete new kit for each of the girls, including shoes – they were pretty pleased to be able to swap their flip flops to football shoes! The team now has access to a local school’s football field and trains twice a week. After each training they are given soap and have the opportunity to shower. None of the children have showers in their homes, and they would usually have access to a communal shower once a week. The team also enjoys a communal hot and nutritious meal after each training, to keep their strength up!

The team and our Project Manager, Zemene, sat down for a group discussion. Most of the girls explained they were most excited about being part of team as well as the opportunity to keep fit and healthy.

“I am happy as a member of this team, to be with my friends and getting equal opportunity”

We will be sharing more about the Girls’ Football Team and their progress over the next months. Our football team is the first girls team in Gondar, and the only one we know of there. We are currently looking for Girls’ Football Teams abroad to link up with the team for solidarity and to show that they are part of a wider network. Do you or your children in a girls’ football team? Share your team photo, send your match report or organise a fundraiser for the team. We have posters and materials about our team that can be shared and would love to work with you – contact us for more details! 

The football team costs £175 per girl, to run annually. You can make a donation to the team here.

Using Art to Improve Hand Washing

Hygiene is important in Ethiopia. Sanitation facilities can be scarce and soap is expensive for many families. Like anywhere in the world, if basic sanitation is not cared for, it can lead to the swift spread of bacteria, causing illness.

At the Kindu Trust, we teach children the importance of hand washing, especially after using the toilet, and before handling food or eating.

Sandra Kemp, a nurse from Leicester, runs a project to improve hygiene practice at the nearby Gondar Hospital and is a long-time supporter of the Kindu Trust. She took time off from this vital work to visit Kindu this year bearing pencils, pens and paints. 27 children, mainly from grades 6 and 7 (aged 12-14) were eagerly awaiting her, sheets of paper at the ready.

After a brief reminder of the importance of hand washing, the children were asked to draw or paint something to illustrate hygiene. To provide some inspiration, volunteer Alan posed while Projects Manger Rory sketched his hands being washed under a running tap on the whiteboard.

Several of the children made similar drawings, but others used the opportunity to indulge their creativity. Silence reigned and at the end of the afternoon we had friendly lions, a number of beautifully executed flowers, several houses, and scenes of social interaction.

The project team in Gondar are planning to visit local schools to help them spread the message of good hygiene as well as getting creative with paint and crayons!

How do we end the cycle of girls dropping out of school?

  The answer is in the question.

1 in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school
when she’s on her period.

With menstruation lasting an average 5-7 days per month, that means a girl could be missing 60 days of school a year.

In some cases, girls drop out of school altogether
once they start their period.

The Kindu Trust’s sponsorship is designed to enable disadvantaged children to go to school and continue their education to their full potential. Puberty, and starting your period, is difficult for girls anywhere in the world. For the girls we support this phase is even harder as many cannot afford disposable pads. Even when they can, many schools do not have toilets, so there is nowhere to change during the school day. This leads to girls choosing not to go to school while on their period, and their educations suffers.

So, we asked ourselves, what can the Kindu Trust do to stop the cycle of girls dropping out of school? And the answer is in the question – to help girls get back to school, we first have to help them manage their menstrual cycle.

This autumn we are starting a new project to address this problem, in partnership with Link Ethiopia, our sister organisation that works with schools in Ethiopia, and in conjunction with Days for Girls (DfG), an international charity that provides hygiene packs for girls to “ensure she has what she needs to succeed”.

Days for Girls is an international charity that has been operating since 2008 providing re-usable menstrual hygiene kits to thousands of girls across hundreds of countries. We are benefiting from their experience as the packs have been trialled and evaluated, and are made to very clear specifications to ensure that they are comfortable, secure and attractive. Days for Girls also has a model of training which has been tried and tested. When kits are distributed they are not just handed over, the girls who receive them are trained on how to clean and maintain them so that each kit lasts at least 3 years.

We have an ambitious plan that will 1) respond to the immediate problem by providing kits to girls in school and 2) empower women to make the kits locally.

Meeting the Need

In the first phase we will distribute DfG kits to our sponsored girls through the Kindu Klub and other school clubs. Each kit includes two pads, 8 liners to change the pads, soap and flannel for cleaning the kit, knickers to hold the pads, and Ziploc bags to store the liners once changed, until they can be washed. All bits of the kit are made in just the right fabrics that will be as absorbent as possible or as waterproof, as necessary, while being comfortable to wear. They are all made in brightly coloured, patterned fabrics so that girls can hang them out to dry and carry the container bag around with pride!

Rather than distributing the kit ourselves, we will provide training to local staff and club leaders so that they can give the full distribution training when giving the kits to girls. This means that they can then continue to distribute packs well into the future, and can share their training with other leaders in Ethiopia. We are very pleased that a qualified volunteer from the Days for Girls team in the UK, who makes the kits here, will come to Ethiopia to ‘train the trainers’. She will teach the Girls Club Leaders how to give training when distributing the kits to girls. So when packs are distributed the girls are taught how to use and maintain the DfG kit, and learn about puberty, the menstrual cycle, and related sexual health.

Kits ready to be sent in our London office!

What each kit includes.

Building a sustainable solution

Image from Days for Girls. A girl makes kits at a local enterprise.

In the second phase we will focus on setting up a social enterprise in Ethiopia to produce DfG kits locally. We will provide women with the tools to make DfG kits to sell. By reinvesting part of their income to purchase their next batch of materials, women can create a sustainable local source of hygiene products as well as generating an income for themselves and their families.

We will research materials available in Ethiopia in order to make the pads locally, and identify motivated women who will be sent to the Days for Girls University in Uganda to receive complete training on sourcing materials, making the packs and running a business. We will be working closely with DfG for this phase of the project, who have extensive experience in establishing regional hubs to train local women in aspects of production, sales, health education and management of supply chain. This will ensure the sustainability of the programme as women can produce the materials they need for menstrual hygiene themselves, out of local materials, rather than relying on external donations. It will invest in the local economy and build up a new business, providing a profession and income for female entrepreneurs.

If you want to help get these projects underway, you can make a donation!

Skilled with a sewing machine? You can get directly involved in sewing the DfG kits which we give to girls in Ethiopia through one of Days for Girls’ local chapters click here for more info.

All this will empower girls to manage their menstrual health with dignity, knowledge and pride! It will give them back their school days, put them on an equal footing and enable girls to take advantage of each school day!

Thank You!