The young girls are looked at. Abused. Sold. And many are rejected.
And what’s more…. this is all considered normal.
The girls and young women of Kisumu are viewed as property. And although it might be culturally accepted, Lindah Nyameche will not rest until that changes. She paints a picture of early marriages, abuse and unsafe abortions…
“We had neighbours who would watch little girls passing by and ask each other how much they would pay for her… like how many cows. They were talking bride price and dowries,” Lindah says.
She’s known of mothers who send their daughters away to prospective husbands. At the age of 8.
“We’ve also pin pointed the issue of sanitary supplies. The girls have their periods, but don’t have any supplies, so some men offer to buy it for them. These men tell the girls they need to show them how to use it… and they are taken advantage of,” Lindah says.
“Many of these young girls become pregnant, and their parents send them away or they try to get an abortion, and if that doesn’t work, they have the baby and abandon it.”
“The cultural pressure is really hard around there. But little by little, I can see that the work we are doing, no matter how small, is making a difference.”
Changing the culture starts with mothers, and that’s what Lindah and Frank are doing.
“They don’t all have a voice but they are the ones in charge of the families,” Lindah says. “We have microfinancing groups for women and we use that forum to teach them and change their perspective so they can see things differently. And that has actually been going pretty well.”
“It’s more effective if it comes from one of them, so it’s not me standing up and talking. It’s a young mum, standing up, and giving her story.”
“They’re started seeing what’s wrong with it, but it’s the culture; it’s just the way it’s always been. So we are working, just chipping away slowly, trying to change the cultural landscape. It’s not something we can do overnight and I don’t even know if it can be done in my lifetime.”
This is why the Milele Centre urgently needs to be built. Not only will it be a place where women and mothers are educated and taught about their worth, but it’ll also be a safe haven for young mothers.
“The girls who are having these babies, most of the time they get rejected. So the Milele Centre would be a place of refuge for them, where they get love and acceptance.”
The Milele Centre will not have the ability to house the mothers. Rather, the centre is a safe loving environment for babies to live, and their young mothers visit daily and learn how to care for their babies.
It’s only a temporary arrangement because the Milele Centre isn’t an orphanage. It’s a place of refuge for young mothers to be supported in raising their children, rather than abandoning them.
You can change the culture in Kisumu today by investing in the Milele Centre. Stage One is building the Early Childhood Development House for abandoned children. Give today!