Visionary Women's  Centre   

Turbo, Kenya, East Africa
 
Founder: Lizette Gilday
 
 
 



                                 Supporting Kenyan women & girls to survive and thrive                                                                              in their families and communities
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Who are we?


The Visionary Women’s Centre is a small, grassroots, community based organization  located in western Kenya whose goal is to support local women & girls in their search for well being in all aspects of their lives. By listening with an open heart and giving appropriate information and referrals we provide  the tools  needed to begin to rise above the poverty and trauma that is a daily reality for many of  women and girls in Kenya.







 
                               Services

                             MOTHER'S SUPPORT PROGRAMME

 It has been my observation  during my time here in Kenya that if the mother who dies is a single parent the consequences for the surviving children are really dire. They are ‘farmed out” to relatives or sent off to live with their father who is likely to have re- married. The old stories of the wicked step mother are still very much a reality here in Africa and these children are often severely abused and underfed. If no other option exists they will be placed in an orphanage and lose touch with their siblings.
The Visionary Women’s Centre, in keeping with its grassroots approach, is developing a model which moves into the local communities and goes door to door to reach out to those women and girls who are too poor and/ or too ashamed  or uneducated to seek the pre- and post-natal support and hospital delivery that they need. Unmarried teenage girls who get pregnant bring great shame upon their families. In poor rural families there is an established tradition of home births. We counsel the girls and encourage them to attend our support group.  This gets them out of their homes and into a more positive environment.


We are implementing the project  through the following strategies:


 - Conduct regular home visitations for maternal health education, encouraging mother to attend pre- and post-    natal clinic and have a hospital delivery.

 - Offer weekly meetings to encourage group solidarity and mutual support and to provide information about maternal health, child rearing, family planning, nutrition, kitchen gardens, breast feeding, hygiene.
 - Give training to empower women with financial and life skills, including Table Banking, communication skills, women’s rights and crafts and entrepreneurial skills.   
 - Follow up and support women who have defaulted from attending their pre- natal and post-natal clinic.
 - Provide iron and folic acid supplements for pregnant women and vitamin A and de-worming treatment to children under the age of 5 years in our programme
 - Support mothers to pursue greater economic independence and vocational trainings of their choice
 - Provide regular testing and support counselling for prevention and support around HIV within the community

                   





                      
                                                      

                                                    LIFE SKILLS 

In order to reach the girls (and boys) of the next generation and teach them positive values regarding the place of women and girls in modern Kenya, we offer Life Skills in some of the local schools. This programme allows us to provide important life skills information while at the same time encouraging self esteem and assertiveness in the girls. 

We teach both girls & boys about:
 The essential role of women in society
 Setting Goals
 Effective Communication
 Family & Peer Relations
 Drugs & Addiction
 Reproductive Health & Safety; HIV & AIDS
 Education System & Career Planning
 Hygiene & Nutrition

                                                                                                                                       A school visit for Life Skills
                          


                 PERSONAL COUNSELLING & REFERRAL

Our Social Worker,Benter, receives women and girls in our office in Turbo to counsel and
support them for a wide range of problems including domestic violence,
land disputes, family concerns, financial stresses, health issues.
This one- on -one counselling service is invaluable as it allows the women
to be heard and supported in a private and compassionate setting. This,
in turn, allows them to gain the strength and courage required to solve
their own problems.












 
                                                                    Lizette and Christine in our office.
                                                       One of our first and most beloved 'clients'


MAGGIE SILVERSTON MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND FOR GIRLS        
It is with much appreciation for the generosity of the family  and friends of Maggie Silverston that Visionary Women’s Centre has been able to  create a scholarship fund for girls. The research now shows unequivocally that when a society educates their women and girls its people enjoy a higher standard of living on many levels.
Maggie Silverston was born in Scotland but spent much of her adult life on the Isle of Man. She worked as a physiotherapist, raised two children and was a much loved member of her community. She was very fond of children and whenever she travelled to poorer countries she would inevitably be followed about by a long line of the local ‘’little ones’’ all vying to hold her hand and bask in her kindness.
After a long and brave struggle with motor neuron disease Maggie died on January 21, 2016 at her home in the Isle of Man.  We are launched her memorial fund on February 11, 2017 as it was the date of her birth which symbolizes renewal and rebirth and speaks to the life giving spirit that Maggie brought to everyone and everything she touched. We know she would be so very pleased to have a fund in her name helping the poorest girls in Kenya to receive the support they need to complete their education.
The criteria for this fund will be very strictly administered and we intend to focus on girls who are entering high school with a good academic record and  a focus leading to a good career. We will also support girls in primary school. Reflecting the nature of our Visionary Women’s Centre, this will be a modest program but one that nevertheless makes a big difference in the lives of the girls it touches which will in turn send ripples out into the community.








                                                                  Benter  with  one of our scholarship students

                                                                         

                                                                    MICRO LOANS

Our micro loans service has helped a good number of women with start up money for a small business or to help them meet unexpected financial needs.


 
 
 
 
 

    
   Who do we help?


The doors of our centre are open to all women and girls as well as their families  in  the area. We assist all ages from girls of 14 years  to grandmothers of 75 years. Mothers and grandmothers are supported through our Mother's Support Programme. Adolescents are inspired and guided through our Life Skills programmes in the schools.  Very poor girls are aided to attend school through our scholarship fund. Women of all ages benefit from our micro loans.
             
                                                                 


  
      

                                                             


 

Some of our Stories

Milli
Milli was one of our first visitors in February, 2015. She is a widow and at the time had no home; instead she was squatting in an abandoned railway station with her four children. She earned what she could by washing motor cycles (which serve as taxi's in Africa). Milli was so poor that she could not afford school uniforms or to pay the fees for her three youngest children, and was consequently criticized and shamed by those around her for not sending her children to school.
We were able to help Milli by providing a small loan so she could send her children to school. Upon witnessing Milli’s attempts to improve her situation,  a family member lent her land and  we provided another micro-loan so she could buy seeds and fertilizer to grow crops. These will provide her with sufficient food and income to support her family for the coming year. Milli has now rented a decent home, her children are in school, and she is paying back her loans on a regular basis.
Milli and her children in their school uniforms and their new home.
Leah
Leah came to the centre in great physical pain. She continued to grimace and hold her stomach throughout our meeting. We discovered that she had an acute medical problem but that she had not seen a doctor as she did not have the money. We offered to use our Emergency Medical Fund to pay for her visit to the hospital and she agreed. Given the serious nature of Leah's condition our centre director chose to accompany her in order to assure that she received  proper care in the hospital. Leah responded  to the medication the doctor prescribed and recovered well. So well, in fact, that she soon  developed a business plan to grow seedlings for local nurseries. This a very labour intensive project as it requires transferring the growing seedling several times into increasingly larger plastic tubes. She has set the ambitious goal of growing and selling 20,000 seedlings within ten months. We were able to support  her by providing a micro-loan with which to buy the seeds. She has already began repaying her loan. This project will allow her to become financially self sufficient as she continues to grow more seedlings over time.


Leah tending her new seedlings.

The Team



Our Management Committee is composed  of volunteers who are  dedicated professionals from the Turbo area.  
They know how to move a project forward and have the respect and contacts within the community  to build support and credibility for The Visionary Women’s Centre.
 
Mangement Committee in front of our office in Turbo, Kenya. Please note that some board members are not in the picture.
Founder Lizette Gilday with Centre Director Benter Obonyo

© 2018