Formed in 2010 the Karukira Mwomboko Dancers is a group of 10 dancers who use traditional Kikuyu dance, songs drama and comedy to educate people about the dangers of FGM, tribalism and HIV/AIDS while stressing the positive aspects of Kikuyu culture.

They perform at school, weddings, male circumcision ceremonies, churches, birthday parties and government meetings in Kenya and other East African countries. To ensure that they can reach as many people as possible they will learn other local languages and dances for instance Luo and Kakamba to ensure that the entire audience are engaged.

Making sure that their message reaches as many people as possible is vital, when they perform in public many people will come to see the dances even though they aren’t aware of the message at the beginning but they leave having been entertained and taught about the social issue being performed. At schools the group makes sure that they teach the children the songs, with the meanings weaved into the lyrics, the children then pass it on to new pupils every year ensuring that message continues to be part of the lives of many more than just the original audience.

They also take in street children to the group, house them, feed them and help them give up drugs and other dangerous behaviour if necessary before training them in dance and music to help provide them with a livelihood that will keep them off the street permanently.

After sending a video of their performance in Githogoro for Compassion CBO, to local television networks they were featured of Kenya national television.

However, funding is a big issue for the group, not all the members can afford to volunteer and cover all their costs when travelling long distances, especially when they get to rural areas and find that there is so little transport that the costs are extortionate.

They are also looking at how they can afford to buy a PA system so that they can get their message to all the people who attend large functions.

The final problem they face is hostility, there are times when their message is unpopular, for example there are many rural communities who feel that campaigning against FGM is undermining the local culture.

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Set up by Compassion CBO trainer Michael in 2013, Kiambu Volunteers is made up of 15 HIV+ volunteers, aged about 30 – 50 years old who have been trained in community work by Compassion CBO.

They are spread across the seven sub-counties of Kiambu county but work together on projects such as flower growing for export. They are currently on their second year out of three of renting a small plot from a farmer where they grow arabicum flowers.

Mostly they work on HIV related issues, such as counselling, home visits, which will often include pill counting to ensure that those they visit are sticking to their ARV regiment.

They also work to combat FGM, using their position within the community in each sub-county to discover when and where it is taking place and then reporting it to the local government.
The last part of their work is training young women in skills that they can use to generate income and empower themselves.

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Based in Karurumo, outside Embu, Mungania Self Help grouped formed in 2014 to fight FGM in the area. It has thirty members, all of whom are women without husbands, most of them have been widowed.

Aside from fighting FGM, with Compassion CBO, they also help create awareness of HIV/AIDS and provide support and follow ups for those diagnosed with the condition.

They work heavily with ex-prostitutes helping them through income generating schemes such as goat rearing and farming.

The members also conduct a merry-go-round to help members have enough capital to start businesses and learn new skills.

 

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Igakiramba Mercy Mothers Women Association works with Compassion CBO to eradicate poverty and Female Genital Mutilation. The group helps the most underprivileged in society through financial and material assistance and runs guidance and counselling seminars on FGM and HIV.

Started in 2008, Igakiramba Mercy Mothers Women Association works with Compassion CBO to eradicate poverty and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The group has 45 members and meets every Friday at Igakiramba Catholic Church.

The group helps the most underprivileged in society through financial and material assistance and runs guidance and counselling seminars on FGM and HIV.
Mercy Mothers Women Association collaborates with Wendo Tharaka Association, which has twenty members, on all projects.

The groups are composed of retired teachers, practicing teachers and local members.

Compassion CBO board member Festus is a retired teacher and lives there on the ground leading Compassion CBO advocacy against FGM in the larger Tharaka-Nithi Area. He is very vocal in public meetings and, during his teaching career in the area, he was promoted to deputy education officer in Tharaka-Nithi. Two board members of Compassion CBO are also from Tharaka-Nithi.

Through Merry-Go-Rounds (collecting weekly contributions from members and giving in turn to each member), the groups provide guidance and counselling on social and health issues, especially to teenagers, and income generating schemes, and thus aim to empower the most needy in the community.

Both groups strive for the economic empowerment of their members, this is mostly done through farming. The groups rent land and collectively farm it, splitting the profits and using the money to buy other things that can generate income, for instance a tent, chairs and tableware that is then hired out.

These activities have meant that every member of both groups now has their own home and latrine.
During the holiday period, Igakiramba Mercy Mothers Women Association and Wendo Tharaka Association hold alternative rites of passage and seminars against FGM for girls aged 12-17 to empower girls against FGM and bring the whole community towards the discussion of FGM and its eradication.

The main challenge for both groups is a lack of financial resources, which hampers their plans for expansion of projects and means that they cannot carry out as many activities as they otherwise could. The area mostly relies on relief food due to drought.

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Karura Honey Project is comprised of a group of local people living on the edge of Karura Forest, just outside Nairobi. Each group member is given responsibility for at least two hives, with profits being divided based on productivity. Compassion CBO will help in identifying the market, as well as training and money management.

The Karura Honey Project began in 2012 when the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) gave a one-off donation of 100 bee hives, bee suits and a refinery to a group of local people living on the edge of Karura Forest, just outside Nairobi.

The group has 45 members, 27 of whom are women; they meet on the first Monday of every month to discuss their progress and any issues.
Unfortunately, the group got off to a rocky start – a lack of capacity building, combined with other factors such as the weather and pests like safari termites and black ants meant that honey production wasn’t as high as expected, so the little honey that was made was sold locally, rather than being marketed on a larger scale.

However, this year the group is undergoing retraining and the project is being restructured – each group member is given responsibility for at least two hives, with profits being divided based on productivity.
These changes mean that the groups are now aiming to produce one tonne of honey per annum. Compassion CBO will help in identifying the market, as well as training and money management.

The group are also looking at working on branding so that the honey can be introduced to bigger markets.

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Gertrude’s Clinic is an outreach programme of Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, Muthaiga – providing a well baby clinic, immunisations, ante-natal care, a TB clinic, HIV+ treatment, and support, family planning and outpatient care.
Compassion CBO uses the clinic for referrals for for those infected with HIV AIDS.

The clinic is based at Runda Bapist Church, Githogoro and was founded in 2002 as an outreach programme by Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, Muthaiga. The hospital pays the wages of the two nurses, clinical officer, social worker, counsellor, pharmaceutical technician, and receptionist who work at the clinic. The Clinic also receives food and equipment upgrades.

The clinic offers a well baby clinic, immunisations, ante-natal care, a TB clinic, HIV+ treatment, and support, family planning and outpatient care.
The clinic also runs a support group for those infected with HIV where they educate HIV+ people, caregivers and members of the community.
Family planning services are also provided free of charge.

Compassion CBO uses the clinic for referrals for for those infected with HIV AIDS and helps with the support groups.

The Garden

Gertrude's Clinic Garden

Behind the clinic there is a demonstration garden, where vegetables are grown to teach HIV+/TB patients how to grow nutritious food. The vegetables from the garden are also given freely to help supplement diets.

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Compassion Sewing Self Help Group provides empowerment to young women from the slums, through training them in sewing and tailoring. They are encouraged to set up their own businesses as soon as they have finished their apprenticeship with the group.

Started in 2007, Compassion Sewing Self Help Group was one of the first groups to join the Compassion CBO Network.

Compassion CBO originally helped the group to secure a loan from the Youth Enterprise Fund, run by the Kenyan Government, which offers loans with interest rates of 8%. This allowed them to buy sewing machines. The group has five female members who now all have their own shops in Githogoro and meet once a week to report on their progress.

The aim of the group is to provide empowerment to young women, through training them at a small fee for six months in sewing and tailoring. The young women are usually aged 18-20 but can be younger when they are trained. All the young women come from the slum and are given the skills that will provide them with a income.

They are encouraged to set up their own businesses as soon as they have finished their apprenticeship with the group. Some choose to do so in villages where there is little competition, others have gone to Nairobi or other local towns. While being trained, the girls are given a percentage of the sale price of whatever they make, the rest goes to buy materials to allow the project to continue.

The main challenge for the group is space and lack of resources; training women with no previous sewing experience is costly as mistakes will be made and fabric can be quite expensive. The shops where the girls are trained are often smaller than 10 by 10 fee, semi-permanent structures – which means that only a few girls can be trained at once.

With funding, the group would like to buy larger premises that would allow up to 10 girls to be trained at once.

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Limuru Outreach Programme provides training in many different skills to women and groups in the rural community around Limuru town, including bead making, soap making, shoe making, arts and crafts, fish farming and growing lots of different types of fruit and vegetables.

Working on a voluntary basis Michael, a Compassion CBO trainer, provides training in many different skills to women and groups in the rural community around Limuru town, including bead making, soap making, shoe making, arts and crafts, fish farming and growing lots of different types of fruit and vegetables.

Seeds or seedlings are given to the women who attend training at the Compassion Centre in Limuru to give them a chance to start their own farms.

There is also a small display room within a trading centre where the arts and crafts made by the women can be sold, with the profits going to the women who made them.

Training sessions aren’t just about gaining skills that can help women have incomes; social issues also make up much of the discussion. There is an emphasis on the three zeros regarding HIV: Zero Discrimination, Zero Infections and Zero Deaths. We also work on ensuring that the links between FGM and HIV are known.

Photo: Compassion CBO trainer, Michael, demonstrates flower growing

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The Kamaru Grandmothers Group was formed in 2013 and now has 22 members, all of whom are over 50 and have HIV. Their activities include savings projects, skills training, and raising awareness about HIV.

Most of the group caught HIV from their daughters, who had become sex workers due to economic hardship and lack of education.

When the girls became ill they went home and were cared for by their mothers. Lack of knowledge at the time meant that no precautions were taken when wounds were tended or children born, leading to the spread of the virus from child to caregiver. These women cared for their children or the orphans of their children on very little income, until they formed a group to help themselves and each other.

Their activities include table banking (individual savings being pooled and loaned to members of the group for a very low fee), Merry-go-rounds (where each week the group members contribute a few shillings which is given to members in turns), awareness raising about HIV, and being trained in different skills for free by Compassion CBO.

(Photo: Training session with Compassion CBO)

 

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