We have been empowering disadvantaged girls and young women for over 10 years. Our main aim is to ensure girls are able to access education and training so they can gain employment. We support school fees, extra tuition, careers advice, work experience and volunteering opportunities, as well as providing family-based foster care for teenage girls who are most at risk of dropping out of school. Foster care is community based and run by local women, and the girls are supported by social workers and nurses with regular monitoring from TMT volunteers and staff.
In many poor rural communities girls are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. They are expected to marry early and contribute to the running of their husband’s household. Marriage and early pregnancy seriously undermines the educational ambitions of girls and those who get pregnant before the age of 18 are six times more likely to live in poverty. Men often dominate relationships and women are not always able to practice safer sex even when they know the risks of pregnancy or HIV infection.
We deliver a programme of sexual health education and HIV awareness in secondary schools and communities. Since we started working in Kenya in 2006 an estimated 100,000 people have benefited from awareness talks on HIV prevention and HIV testing services, and over 12,000 children have benefited from sexual health education workshops in their schools.
The Mango Tree Girls’ Secondary School
We have been promoting boarding school education for girls for 13 years. We know it works – the girls we fund in boarding schools are better protected, have access to more resources and are able to study in the evenings rather than having to do domestic work. They get better grades and are five times more likely to go on to study at college or university.
The Mango Tree Kenya has registered an independent charitable trust, The Mango Tree Education Trust, and with initial grants from our UK donors they are constructing a girls’ secondary boarding school in Mawego. This school will provide quality education for 360 girls with the capacity to expand to 420. The school’s facilities will include a large multi-purpose hall, classrooms, science laboratories, library, buses, boarding houses and a sports ground. Some of these facilities will be available for the local community for social and sporting events, meetings and workshops. Sponsored short courses in cookery, baking, tailoring, business development, health and hygiene will also support the engagement of local women and girls during school holidays and weekends.
Lilypads for Life- Reusable Sanitary Pads
In rural Kenya today, 65% of women are unable to afford sanitary products. Girls as young as 12 are making an impossible decision: have sex with older men in exchange for pads, resort to unhygienic alternatives to sanitary pads, or drop out of school. Such actions severely hamper the life prospects of young girls due to the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases and the loss of valuable education. In 2017 we supported the work of one of our UK volunteers, Alison Woods who went on to establish the Lilypads organisation which provides access to reusable sanitary towels as well as business training for women to support the development of a supply chain for sanitary pads in rural communities. Using the Lilypads model, 32 local women in Homabay have been supported to set up small businesses selling reusable pad designs within their local communities. These women have also been trained to deliver workshops, focusing on menstrual health, to educate girls in schools and the wider community. The Mango Tree has also supplied free reusable sanitary pads to over 100 disadvantaged girls.
Lilypads now makes their own reusable period pads for sale in the UK. They believe in creating collaborative and sustainable initiatives which work for everyone and work with organisations around the world training women to set up microfinance businesses and selling products at an affordable price. This ensures products are available to all who need them within the community. Please support Lilypads and girls in Africa by purchasing reusable pads or donating a pad to someone in need here.
After her father died from AIDS in 2004, Eunice’s mother was left destitute, supporting four children and seven cousins in a one-roomed hut. We funded her through school and college and she now has a BA in Business Management and works for a bank. Married with two children – her eldest is just starting primary school – Eunice’s husband John works for the County Council and they live in in Kakamega in a two-bedroomed house with a kitchen and shamba (allotment) where they grow crops and keep chickens. Eunice also helped fund her younger sister’s university education – she has now graduated as a statistician and continues to support her other siblings and cousins who are either at school or in vocational training. All but two of the 11 children and young people in Eunice’s family have managed to get an education or some form of training. She is an active member of the Mango Tree Alumni and was a founding member of the Mango Tree Family Association.
“Further education was once just a dream, but now I am planning to study a masters degree in finance to become an accountant!”