Cobh woman seeking support for women and girls in Kenya

Cobh woman seeking support for women and girls in Kenya

Maria Kidney, Co- founder of Brighter Communities Worldwide.

A KENYAN charity, co-founded by a Cork woman, is seeking support this week for women and girls in Kericho County who are being hit very hard by the ongoing pandemic.

During International Women’s Week 2021, Maria Kidney, from Cobh, is calling on everyone to dig deep to help women and young girls through her charity Brighter Communities Worldwide.

From March 8 to March 12, donations of up to €40 will be matched at 50% by GlobalGiving, bolstering the finances of the charity two-fold.

The Cobh woman has been in Kenya since last March, with her husband and co-founder Martin Ballintyne, helping people cope with the problems produced by Covid-19.

Maria Kidney, Co- founder of Brighter Communities Worldwide and Martin Ballantyne, CEO.
Maria Kidney, Co- founder of Brighter Communities Worldwide and Martin Ballantyne, CEO.

“Our programmes support young girls and women to learn and obtain the skills required to take control of their lives, have more opportunities available, and make different choices,” Maria said.

“Covid-19 has widened the gender gap in poor and marginalised communities in Kericho County, Kenya. Sexual and reproductive health services have been seriously impacted as hospitals and clinics are forced to put already limited resources into fighting the pandemic. Poverty levels are rising and poorer families are facing hunger.”

Focusing on the effect on females, Maria said many girls have not returned to education.

“There has been a significant return to harmful traditional practices with many young girls being distinctly disadvantaged. Families are marrying off their girls for a ‘bride price’, reports of female genital mutilation are increasing, young girls are performing ’transactional sex’ to buy food for their families and sanitary kits to manage their periods, and girls as young as nine are pregnant.”

Maria is seeking support to achieve a number of objectives:

  • Provide essential materials to enable schools to stay open through the provision of handwashing facilities, soap and Covid-19 training for students and teachers.
  • Offer community-based training on sexual and reproductive health.
  • Offer an alternative rite of passage to female genital mutilation.
  • Train local volunteers as menstrual health
  • ambassadors to promote, support and teach about this topic in their own communities.
  • Support sustainable income-generating projects for women.

Speaking about the importance of the project Maria said: “Girls are born with the ability. It’s the environment, lack of funds and support that makes the difference.

“We provide essential materials for the safe reopening of schools in Kericho County, hand-washing tanks, soap, posters, learning materials, all crucial to continuing education.

“This project also supports community- based training on sexual health, menstruation, and offers an alternative rite of passage to female genital mutilation.

“We train ambassadors, who pass on their training, knowledge, and skills to strengthen their communities, developing sustainable income for women provides opportunities and independence.”

Donate here.

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