Last week I attended a film screening of A Path Appears: Violence and Solutions Part 3, a PBS documentary on the organization Shining Hope for Communities and hosted by NET IMPACT NYC. Shining Hope for Communities is a nonprofit in Kibera, Kenya. Kibera is a neighborhood of the city of Nairobi and is the largest urban slum of this city. Kennedy Odede, the founder and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), was raised in in Kibera where he experienced extreme poverty and the hardships that this bring to himself and his community. While working in a factory, Kennedy saved 20 cents to buy a soccer ball and started SHOFCO.
SHOFCO is an all-girls school located in the center of Kibera. They have a strong focus on holistic education, this means that they are not only educating the young girls in English and Math, but also developing their health, and focusing on community empowerment. They also have a water and sanitation initiative that not only provides clean water to the school and community but also provides as a source of income for the nonprofit. Many ask “why is it an all-girls school and not a youth school for boys and girls?” Kennedy explains this in the documentary, he also elaborated on this at last week’s event. Girls in his community need to be empowered and shown that their needs are important.
It is not unusual or surprising that there is a type of male hierarchy in Kibera. Sometimes this idea of manliness morphs into domestic violence and rape of the young girls. A Path Appears features a few of these stories and how the institution of law does not always provide for these young girls. Many perpetrators will go without arrest, even if there is conclusive evidence. SHOFCO offers a community solution to this problem. By providing the girls with not only the education and health measures they need they also provide them with social and workers and assistance with their rape cases. Through the empowerment of these young girls, SHOFCO is able to change the mindset of the community and hopefully build a resistance to the domestic violence shown in the young girls’ homes.
If you'd like to get involved with SHOFCO, take a look at their Summer Institute, an annual competitive program that takes place from mid June to mid July that provides civic-minded university students with on-the-ground experience teaching at The Kibera School for Girls (KSG) in Nairobi, Kenya. We encourage all LiVEDNDY goers to travel abroad and what better reason than for an amazing cause!
By: Meghan Justice