How WGEP is Responding to COVID-19 in Rural Kenya and Senegal

April 24th, 2020

Over the past several weeks, Women’s Global Education Project has adapted our programs to respond to the growing threat of coronavirus in the communities where we work. Our teams in Kenya, Senegal, and the U.S. have worked remotely since mid-March, and are working hard to provide resources in order to keep our communities safe and healthy, and to ensure that every girl has the opportunity to continue her education amid school closures.

PROGRAM INTERVENTIONS TO SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITIES

  • Providing support and instructions on how-to create protective masks: We have contacted all girls in our scholarship programs with phone calls and texts via Whatsapp, both to check in as mentors to ensure that they are staying safe and protected from gender-based violence, and to send guidelines from WHO on how to avoid transmitting COVID-19. Our Kenya Program Director, Aniceta Kiriga, created a video to teach scholars how to make their own non-medical protective masks, and our adult literacy teachers created a COVID-19 prevention verse! WGEP grassroots leaders have also appeared on local radio programs to combat misinformation on the virus.
  • Distributing soap and cleaning supplies: We have distributed soap and cleaning supplies to adult literacy students in Kenya (pictured above), and to several schools in Senegal to prevent the spread of COVID-19. One of the school leaders who received supplies remarked: “I hear on the radio the authorities asking the populations to wash their hands, it appeals to me but we find it difficult to even afford soap regularly to wash our bodies… this is why your help is remarkable. From now on I will be the first to observe the regular washing of hands.”
  • Combating food insecurity: The pandemic has stretched resources thin in every country, and we want to ensure that our families have enough to eat while at home. In Senegal, we’ve distributed 25kg bags of rice to 266 WGEP scholarship recipients and their families. In Kenya, 203 girls and 475 adult literacy participants will receive food from WGEP.
  • Supporting remote learning: In order to best prepare students in Kenya for remote learning, we are distributing radios and lanterns to 203 girls in our scholarship program. The radios make it possible to tune in to remote lessons, and the lanterns help girls without electricity to study at night, after they have completed their daily household chores.

AN INSPIRING OUR SISTERS LEAD STORY

In this moment of crisis, we’ve been heartened by the incredible response we’ve seen from individuals working to support their communities. Our favorite story comes from three teenage participants in Our Sisters Lead, WGEP’s leadership training program for high school students in Sokone, Senegal. When Alima, Absatou, and Mouhamed heard of the spread of Coronavirus, they immediately contacted WGEP’s staff about the idea of creating a radio segment on a local station to educate the public! With WGEP’s help, they enlisted Mr. Ablaye Sow, Communications Officer at the Sokone District Health Department, to appear with them on the radio. The broadcast took place on March 19th, and reached thousands of residents in the rural Fatick region, many without access to other reliable news platforms.

The Mayor of Sokone heard the broadcast, and sent the leaders extra soap, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies for them to allocate to their communities! Absatou, Mouhamed, and Alima identified eight under-resourced schools in Fatick to give the extra supplies, multiplying the impact of their radio program.

We are proud of Our Sisters Lead participants for using the public speaking, advocacy, and conflict resolution skills that they learn in our program to make change in their own communities. This year is the first time that we’ve included a small number of boys in Our Sisters Lead program to serve as gender advocates for their sisters and all young women, and we’re happy to see Mouhamed using his new leadership training for good.

Our friends at Girls Opportunity Alliance, Philanthropy Women, and WBEZ Chicago shared this story with their audiences, further inspiring action in the U.S.!

HOW YOU CAN HELP

UNESCO estimates that 1.5 billion children are out of school due to COVID-19. Research shows that girls in poor countries will be hurt the most, so it’s imperative that we can deliver our low-cost, high-impact interventions to our communities in rural Kenya and Senegal.

We know that this pandemic has placed a tremendous strain on financial resources, but if you’re able to contribute, here is a snapshot of what your donation will support:

  • $10 provides cleaning supplies to three vulnerable families
  • $25 provides one solar radio to help a girl tune in to remote lessons 
  • $100 provides one girl with an “at-home learning kit” AKA essential supplies to help her through the pandemic: soap for proper handwashing, a 25kg bag of rice to combat food insecurity, a radio for remote learning lessons and a lantern to read and write without electricity.

Please consider making a donation today. Thank you for believing in the future of every girl!

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