Walking on Egg Shells – reintegration of female ex-inmates

A lady stood with vegetables grown in her garden

ELWOFOD (Eldoret Women for Development) is a community based organisation started by 2 women in Eldoret Slum who had been convicted for 6 years for a crime they did not commit, with an aim of enhancing re-entry of previous female prisoners into their communities, through economic skill development, agri-business skills and financial literacy training, with an additional aim of ending gender based violence upon the women’s release.

ELWOFOD work with 50 women ex-prisoners teaching them agribusiness skills, and teaching them how produce fresh vegetables through organic farming for both domestic uses and sales. The women participate in 4 weeks of practical training, followed by 3 home-based practical tests to assess the level of understanding, this helps to decide what level of mentoring is needed. The best participants are then identified and trained as ‘Trainer of Trainees (ToTs) to mentor the other 40 participants on the best practice methods, through home based monitoring and mentorship.

Half way through the project, a one week refresher training course is provided by ELWOFOD and the Government Department of Agriculture. A further 2 day refresher training is provided for the 10 ToTs, whom are then trained as ‘Women Ex-Prisoners – Farming with Purpose’ Champions by the Governmental Department of Agriculture. The women were trained on the basics of; making efficient use of space, identifying and treating diseases and pests, weeding, watering and pre-harvesting. All women received fast maturing certified vegetable seeds (kale, spinach and onion).

Since the project began, all women have established kitchen gardens, and have started harvesting their fresh farm vegetables for household consumption, 32 of these women are earning some income from the sale of the vegetable surplus. 18 of the women have established vegetable nurseries.

All women were chosen based on their malnourishment, or risk of malnourishment. Since the project has been running malnourishment figures have had a 100% decrease and only 2 out of the 50 women have a risk of malnourishment.

Since the beginning of 2018, 100 recently released female prisoners have been registered on the project. Overall the project has empowered the women by allowing to take charge of the project themselves. Additional training on financial literacy has allowed the women to learn and adopt a business mindset, make incomes and use their incomes responsibly.

 

Under 1 Roof

People sitting around a table and talking

St Martins are a charity in Norwich and the surrounding area, who work to help get rough sleepers a roof over their head. They work to offer a hand up, a boost trust in other people and aim to nurture self-esteem as well as empowering individuals to make positive choices. To many, they are a stepping stone to rebuilding lives. St Martins work alongside other voluntary organisations, housing associations, and community and church groups to raise awareness of homelessness as one of the principal contributors to social exclusion. St Martins are a progressive and developing charity, adjusting to the needs of homeless people that are often very complex.

One aspect of St Martins work is ‘Under 1 Roof’, which is a learning and development centre owned and run by St Martins. The role of Under 1 Roof is to offer support for vulnerable adults who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. They support these individuals by helping them to develop skills that will help them to live independently within the community.

Under 1 Roof opened in 2010, with the aim to provide service users with means to access the workplace. However, over time this has changed to include reintegration into the community of service users after a period of institution.  An important part of the work at Under 1 Roof is the principle of co-production; members inform how the centre is run and what events activities are on offer there.

Under 1 Roof’s main emphasis is on developing the skills that will allow service users to find work and live independently, however, informal learning to build confidence and self-esteem, which inspire people to go onto further training, is also an integral part of Under 1 Roof’s work.

Different sessions offered by Under 1 Roof includes:

  • The tenancy programme
  • Basic IT skills
  • Art
  • Programmes to support people to overcome substance misuse issues
  • Music groups
  • Mindfulness
  • Fitness sessions ranging from Tai chi to Boxercise
  • Programme to maximise Mental Health

There is also the opportunity for service users looking for employment to use the IT suite as well as access support with applications, cover letters, CVs and finding training for qualifications needed to compete in the job market. They is also a volunteer programme and work placement opportunities, these are invaluable to those who have been out of work for a long period of time and therefore have no recent work experience and/or references.

Fighting Hidden Hunger – organic vegetable garden project in schools

Children planting in a field

The aim of CAMAAY’s (Connected Youth of Cameroon) ‘Fighting Hidden Hunger’ programme is to teach children to grow nutritious food to improve health and knowledge of sustainable farming practices.

CAMAAY have worked with schools and the community to set up gardens within six schools in Bali, Batibo and Oku regions.  These projects give children the seeds, tools, information and experience to grow organic vegetables that supply necessary nutrients without chemicals.

The aim is to train tomorrow’s farmers in techniques that increase productivity, model effective agricultural practices and protect the environment. The projects will help improve family diet in Cameroon, provide extra income from sales of surplus produce and reduce dependency on outside aid.

From an educational point of view, the project provides school children with practical opportunities for learning science and maths, improves the school environment with fences and gardens and strengthens the partnership between the school and community

So far, the project has been successful in improving the health of children, enhancing the knowledge of sustainable gardening and occasionally providing additional food or seeds for the broader community.

Integrated Development Approach through Training and Infrastructure to Improve Education, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Manga Cluster Area in Lake Victoria Region, Kenya.

New desks for the school

Health and Water Foundation (HWF) run a programme called Integrated Development Approach through Training and Infrastructure to Improve Education, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Manga Cluster Area in Lake Victoria Region, Kenya. The programme has many aspects, but a large section is based around children’s education. In total there are twelve schools which were supported by the project.

Overall 12 schools have been rehabilitated, there have been 25 new classrooms constructed and new desks bought in for both pupils and teachers, this also includes replacements of old, dilapidated desks. Quality control checks are conducted three times a year to make ascertain usability and quality of construction works. Teachers are provided with both training and incentives (as salaries are not paid by the government) in order for the children to receive the best education possible.

HWF has also made education more accessible. In order to improve access to the different schools, the project improved 1km of public roads to the schools. Each of the schools receive a recreational pack and two educational kits including educational charts and pencils annually, as well as story books in different languages. Every child who attends the school is given a rechargeable LED light to enable the child to study at home, and all schools are provided with a generator in order to recharge the lights. Parents, Teachers and children are taught how to use the lights in order to make best use of them. HWF has also made school more accessible to girls, as sanitary pad packs are provided within all schools.

Integrated Development Approach through Training and Infrastructure to Improve Education, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Manga Cluster Area in Lake Victoria Region, Kenya.

A young girl stands on a scale during a medical visit to her school

Health and Water Foundation (HWF) run a programme called Integrated Development Approach through Training and Infrastructure to Improve Education, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Manga Cluster Area in Lake Victoria Region, Kenya. The programme has many aspects, including a health phase.

The programme has made sure that access to health facilities, including the hospital, dispensaries and health centres is easier by grading 1km of public road. The programme has also got a health training section, where there is yearly training on the topic of HIV/AIDs given to opinion leaders, but also targeted audiences such as mothers, drivers and orphans. There has also been training of youth in informal settlements with regards to clean-up campaigns in areas with high rates of mosquito breeding. In relation to the large children’s educational aspect within the project, there are annual visits to all pupils within the schools supported by the programme, by both a nurse and doctor.

HWF has provided large amounts of medical equipment, such as maternity beds, mattresses, bedding and kits, and other medical equipment to the new maternity department. HWF have also distributed 3000 mosquito nets (targeted pregnant mothers and children under 5).

In relation to clean drinking water, HWF has created a borehole for both the hospital and market. There has since been a connection created from the borehole to a water kiosk, which is managed by disadvantaged members of the community. Protection and fencing of water springs has occurred. Water tanks and water harvesting facilities have been set up in all twelve schools supported by the programme, and on the job training of water harvesting has been provided. Finally there has been construction of toilets and washing facilities in all twelve schools, and the market area.

Integrated Development Approach through Training and Infrastructure to Improve Education, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Manga Cluster Area in Lake Victoria Region, Kenya.

Health and Water Foundation (HWF) run a programme called Integrated Development Approach through Training and Infrastructure to Improve Education, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Manga Cluster Area in Lake Victoria Region, Kenya. The programme has many aspects, but a large section is based around children’s education, and in relation to this children with special educational needs. In total there are twelve schools which were supported by HWF, four of which have been assigned by the government as “special units” to cater for children with special educational needs.

During the first year of the project, 192 children with special educational needs were provided with school uniforms in the four different schools. These uniforms were locally procured and given to the children by HWF with help from the schools management committees. The HWF field officers formulated a needs assessment form for each school so they could capture the specific needs of the children within the different schools, this was then used to provide specific materials and kits for the children.

It has since been noted by both teachers and community members that the support from HWF towards children with special educational needs has made the children realise that ‘disability is not an inability’ and therefore boosted their morale.

Integrated Development Approach through Training and Infrastructure to Improve Education, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Manga Cluster Area in Lake Victoria Region, Kenya.

Health and Water Foundation (HWF) run a programme called Integrated Development Approach through Training and Infrastructure to Improve Education, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Manga Cluster Area in Lake Victoria Region, Kenya. The programme has many aspects, one of which is vocational.

Two polytechnics within the region were rehabilitated, classrooms and a carpentry workshop were renovated. Within the polytechnics, training for 60 girls to learn sewing techniques over two years occurs. HWF also provided 20 sewing machines (10 to each polytechnic), these machines tend to be used in large-scale clothing making enterprises, meaning the girls develop the skills for a future profession.

The two polytechnics also train 60 boys in carpentry for two years. HWF provided 20 carpentry kits between the two polytechnics, which comprised of plough plains, bit bushes, timber clamps, Stanley hammer, set of chisel, pliers, auger bit, screw drivers and spanners, Jack Stanley No.4, Stanley plane No.5, Tape measure, brace and try square.

Nutrition Programme

Stung Treng Women’s Development Centre (SWDC) runs a nutrition program for women in order to improve their knowledge of both health and nutrition for both themselves and their families. The programme also provides nutritious free lunches for all the workers within SWDC, this has shown an improvement in health, reduced illness and sick days, and improved safety within the workforce. It also reduces living costs for families, which is vital, as many of SWDCs workers are the poorest in the region.

All food provided through the nutrition programme us bought or grown locally in SWDCs fish farm and vegetable gardens, by cooks who have been trained on site. Up to 80 women have benefited from the programme each year.

Traditional Silk Weaving

Stung Treng Women’s Development Centre (SWDC) offers a 6 month, full time programme in the art of silk weaving. The programme is aimed at a target audience, typically women from a female headed household. To begin with, women have to complete and pass a literacy and health education class, this enables them to develop news skills and increase their employability. They are then able to apply to attend the vocational training in traditional silk weaving and sewing. The course is offered free of charge and is taught by a professional trainer.

In order to support the women further, SWDC provide a monthly allowance, and free lunch to all trainees. This enables the women to leave current jobs and participate in the training, in order to further their professional skills and job prospects. Women who have to travel long distances are offered a fair payment scheme for a bicycle.

After the women have completed their training, they are offered jobs in the areas they are most confident in, within SWDC’s ‘Mekong Blue’ enterprise, where products are sold around Cambodia. Further to this, on the job training is provided meaning both new and old skills are constantly being developed. So far this programme has led to previously unemployed women being able to gain employment and has also led to women feeling a sense of independence and empowerment. There has been a reduction in local and regional poverty as women are able to generate an income and therefore are able to support their families and invest in the local economy.

Kindergarten programme

Two children playing with alphabet toys

Stung Treng Women’s Development Centre (SWDC) has two children’s education aspects. A school sponsorship education program and they also run a nursery for children aged 3-6.

The pre-school and kindergarten programme is aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 6. The aim is to provide children with the foundation that they need to be successful in life as well as raising the economic wellbeing of the region in the future. According to UNICEF, less that 26% of Cambodian children between the ages of 3-5 have educational opportunities and parents can often not afford both the direct and indirect costs of sending their children to school. SWDC aims to change this.

The kindergarten started off aiming at the children of employees of SWDC, but because of it’s huge success, can now offer an education to the children situated within the town of Stung Treng. So far it has been operational for 13 years and has seen 864 children ‘graduate’.

The Kindergarten is offered free of charge, with breakfast and snack meals offered throughout the day to increase the protein levels in the children’s diets. Toys and books are available to all children, meaning parents are not struck with any indirect costs of education. Children who attend the Kindergarten are then filtered into the school sponsorship programme. In addition to the free education, children are taught about nutrition and cleanliness, and any health concerns can be diagnosed and treated on site.