Updated: Apr 16, 2022
Story narrated by Benjamin Katana – Director Safe: Interviewed by Julie Tumbo – APN Consultant
What did you have in mind when you applied for the APN small grants program?
Kilifi County within the Coastal strip of Kenya has the highest teen pregnancy rate of 14% in the Country. Everywhere in Kilifi there has been a loud desperate outcry of mothers blaming motor-cycle operators for luring, impregnating and then abandoning their young teenage daughters with pregnancy and little children.
As the main organization that addresses teen pregnancy in Kilifi, we at Safe Community Youth Initiative leveraged the APN Small grants in October 2021 and used it to engage 180 champions among motor-cycle operators who worked to combat teenage pregnancies and help the young single mothers who had been abandoned with children. This work took place in the 15 motor-cycle stands within the Shimo La Tewa Sub Location of Kilifi County in Kenya.
The work we did with motor-cycle operators transformed their public image from being perceived as the villains who destroy lives of young girls; to being appreciated as local philanthropists who not only donate their free time as educators and watchdogs, but also donate material resources to helping teenage single mothers in distress together with their children..
What made you succeed in persuading motor-cycle operators to do so much within such a short span of time?
As Safe Community Youth Initiative we are well known and respected among young people because of our long-standing work in Kilifi. Therefore making an entry to get the motor-cycle operators was not a difficult feat because they already know us and admire us as role models for young people. In addition, the training we provided empowered the champion motor-cycle operators with confidence, knowledge and skills as set out to be watchdogs and convince fellow operators to refrain from harming the teenage girls. In addition, the County Government also convened mass media and other stakeholders to discuss and created visibility for the work we did with motor-cycle operators.
Being recognized by the Government, motivated the champions to work even harder because they appreciated the recognition and positive visibility they were receiving.
What do you think were the main benefits brought about by the work you did with the champions when thinking about community philanthropy?
We observed some significant benefits of the work we have done with motor-cycle champions under the APN catalytic grants. Let me mention just a few.
We started off by creating an acceptance and culture of local philanthropy among the motor-cycle operators. Initially these operators groups were formed with an intention of doing business and making money for their own personal sustenance. We did outreach to 15 motor cycle stands and created awareness on their social responsibility and need to help the single teenage mothers.The groups of operators then agreed and signed a memo where they made a declaration of commitment to support teenage mothers and not make girls pregnant. As we talk now, the champions among operators have continuously donated their time free of charge to not only be watchdogs but also educate operators in their villages to refrain from impregnating teenage girls but instead to support young mothers and their children.The operators even went further to do a group fundraising and purchased a motor-cycle. A rider is assigned to operate the motor-cycle on a daily basis while the net profit is calculated by the group.
A portion of 50% of the net profit earned is dedicated and used to support single young girls who have been abandoned with their children. From this portion of 50%, the operators have pledged to support 2 girls with schools fees who are joining Form One and Form Two in KP Senior Secondary School and Mtomondoni Primary school in May 2022.The operators have bought food, pampers and medicines for the girls. Just last week the operators bought uniforms for a girl who is being returned back to school after she got pregnant
What can you conclude about this whole experience?
In conclusion I would like to say that we should never give up in mobilizing communities to provide free time and material support for the most disadvantaged people in our society. Anything is possible if we do not give up and continue asking for local philanthropic giving efforts by community members to solve their own problems locally.