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Protecting Refugee Women and Girls from Gender Based Violence

Heshima Kenya is the first and only organization in Kenya devoted to protecting and empowering urban unaccompanied refugee girls.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
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What problem does your innovation solve?

50% of the world's refugees are women and girls. They face unique challenges, including sexual and gender-based violence and health complications due to early pregnancy and/or physical injuries related to abuse. An estimated one in five refugees or displaced women in complex humanitarian settings have experienced sexual and gender-based violence. Heshima Kenya's multi-disciplinary program provides a safe community and specialized education for refugee girls to recover and become leaders.

Explain your innovation.

Heshima Kenya provides holistic programming to meet the full spectrum of the needs of refugee girls. This includes our Girls' Empowerment Project (GEP), a multi-phase program offering a safe community for girls to obtain an education and learn about their human rights while addressing avenues for self-sufficiency and leadership building. Our Safe House is a 52-bed shelter for girls who have experienced war and sexual and gender-based violence, and have security or protection concerns. Case Management provides an array of services including medical care and referrals for counseling. While enrolled in the GEP, girls are invited to join our yearlong tailoring course, which feeds into our social enterprise, The Maisha Collective. Artisans earn a stipend to allow them to save and open their own businesses after they graduate from Heshima Kenya. Heshima Kenya has served over 3,000 girls since 2008, and we continue to grow every year. Since 2014, we have partnered with the UNCHR under Child Protection and worked with Nairobi-based partners to serve more beneficiaries. We partnered with IDEO in 2015 and 2016 on a micro-grant program to help refugee women entrepreneurs in the community through our Community Outreach program. The project was a success, training 74 women with new skills and providing them with loans to start new businesses or strengthen their existing ones.

Who benefits?

Heshima Kenya's primary beneficiary population includes unaccompanied and separated refugee girls. Currently we serve 234 girls in our Girls' Empowerment Project. The age range is between 13 and 23 years old, with the majority fleeing conflict in Somalia, Ethiopia, DR Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi. While our main campus is in Nairobi, we also serve girls in nearby counties including Eastleigh, Kivuli, Kabira, and Githurai, and conduct missions nationally to Meru and Mombasa. Success is measured through pre- and post-evaluation. One of our beneficiaries is Mirele, a young woman who escaped conflict in her home country of Burundi. Left orphaned, she fled alone to seek safety in Kenya. She was sexually and physically abused and left pregnant before coming to Heshima. At Heshima, Mirele found safety and was able to continue her education.

How is your innovation unique?

Heshima Kenya is the first and only organization of its kind to provide holistic programs that meet refugee girls at the full spectrum of their needs, from most basic to self-realized. When refugee girls are supported and empowered to reach their full potential, entire communities and economies benefit. The holistic care and support we provide helps the young women and girls we serve to build informed and safer communities that protect the most vulnerable rather than exploit them.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Our GEP curriculum is comprised of four levels. We have only recently added Level Four, in order to build on our evolving curriculum to meet participants’ needs as they mature. Level Four provides training for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam. A significant challenge for beneficiaries in preparation for the KCPE is the language barrier, as the test is administered in English and Kiswahili. We intend to explore how to strengthen girls’ language skills and empower them to feel confident to sit for and pass the test. Furthermore, while we currently provide vocational training in tailoring and dyeing as part of our Maisha Collective program, we intend to introduce additional vocational training.

Tell us more about you.

Heshima Kenya is a 501(c)3 organization and NGO operating in Kenya with offices in Nairobi and Chicago. Our Executive Director is located in Chicago while our Country Director and field staff are in Nairobi. Our expertise is extensive in humanitarian aid, refugee rights and advocacy, and sexual and gender-based violence prevention. Our Executive Director worked closely from 2007-2009 with the Australian Department of Tourism to plan and execute The 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

Over the past few years, the asylum space in Kenya has become constricted as incidences of terrorism and insecurity were linked to the presence of refugees in the country. There have been calls to repatriate, and subsequent harassment of refugees particularly of Somali origin. There have also been reported instances of denial of entry into the country of Asylum for asylum seekers from the great lakes region and South Sudan. We have increased our focus on working with the Kenyan government.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

Our GEP and Safe House are located in Nairobi, but we also operate in Kitengela, Kasarani, and Eastleigh. We conducted 3 national missions to Mombasa, Nakuru, and Meru to conduct Best Interest Assessments (BIAs).

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

We strongly believe in collaboration with external partners and seek new partnerships and forums to share and seek information about changing trends, policies, and community-based care response mechanisms to reduce duplication of services and maximize resources. Our current partners and taskforce memberships include: UNHCR Kenya, The Department of Adult Education; Nairobi-based Charitable Children’s Institutions (CCI); The Urban Refugee Protection Network; RefugePoint, HIAS, and DRA.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

Heshima Kenya has served over 3000 girls since 2008. In recognition of Heshima Kenya's credibility as a leading children's rights and refugee advocacy organization, we were named the UNHCR Implementing Partner for Child Protection in 2015. We are a certified Charitable Children's Institution and have a great working relationship with the Department of Refugee Affairs.

Innovation Maturity

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Organization Location

We are headquartered in Chicago, IL and based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Website

www.heshimakenya.org

How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

Based on feedback, a lot of comments and contributions to our idea were interested in supporting our Heshima Kenya alumni through the additional funds and enabling them to continue their business and financial literacy education. While we were already planning on starting this alumni program, with this idea and additional funding we would support the expansion of those classes as well as additional skills-building courses for the alumni.

Who will implement this Idea?

This idea would be implemented by Heshima Kenya staff in Nairobi.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Because our beneficiaries are refugees, they are unable to legally work in Kenya. Therefore, we strive to continue to provide holistic care and programming to our beneficiaries in order to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to start and run their own entrepreneurial businesses in the markets where they are allowed to sell whatever products they make if they do stay in Kenya. Another challenge refugees face is the political stigma surrounding the refugee crisis. We strive to protect our girls at our GEP and Safe House location and advocate for the rights of our girls. Finally, a third challenge is the resettlement process, because it is highly involved and also requires sometime for the beneficiaries to hear back about their status.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

Our funding sources include the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, NoVo Foundation, Imago Dei Fund, Zakat Foundation, various family funds, individual donors, and sales from our social-enterprise program the Maisha Collective. We are always striving on increasing our donor base and also diversifying our donor base for contingency planning. Whenever we start any new project we strive to keep the project going for at least a year while searching for additional funding throughout the year to keep the project going in the future.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

Impact: By 2018, we envision brining in more beneficiaries into our programming and establishing our Heshima Kenya alumni program pilot project. Question: How do we sustain our Heshima Kenya alumni program to train more alumni and empower them to receive the specialized education and skills they need in order for their businesses to thrive in the community?

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

We plan on tracking education scores for all beneficiaries in the GEP as well as the alumni program. We will also do pre and post testing to evaluate growth and impact of the project and also do counseling sessions with each girl and determine satisfaction levels.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

We plan on adding 50 additional beneficiaries and enrolling 12 Heshima Kenya alumni into our alumni training program over the next 2 years.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Above $1,000,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Over 50 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 6 months and 1 year

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support
  • Understanding User and/or Community
  • Organizational Design

75 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Gal Ken
Team

waiting to see what it can do. Hoping you all are right http://colorswitch2.com

Photo of Han Jenny
Team

Sexual violence causes a great mental obsession for girls and women!
http://supersmashflash-2.com

Photo of Siyu Ding
Team

What a great program! I like it

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you so much for your support Siyu! :)

Photo of Rasal Lia
Team

Hi , Azra, thanks for your idea. Would you please let me know something about the method of delivering education- the technology, in the asylum? Do you recommend any especial curriculum or vocational training? How do you manage if privacy becomes a question for victim women? You are keeping the victims separate from all other students. How do you help them return and be affiliated in the society?
Thank you.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Hi Rasal! Thank you for your comment! We have a formal education system that teaches the Kenya Primary Education system in preparation for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam. That means that our beneficiaries are receiving the same education as other Kenyan children are. We have four Levels, Level 1 starting out with basic subjects and including English and Kiswahili which most of our girls do not know upon arrival. Levels 3 and Levels 4 focus on preparing, registering, sitting for, and passing the KCPE exam. We incorporate the use of computers that were generously donated to us for some of those class assignments. We also offer life skills training on Fridays, which includes basic skills such as proper hygiene care, etc. We also have one vocational training course in tailoring and tie and dye in preparation for entering our Maisha Collective social enterprise program. This program is voluntary. Managing privacy is protected in various ways including not posting any photos of girls with protection issues on social media or any news outlets. The girls from the Safe House are also transported in a Heshima Kenya vehicle everyday to the GEP for their schooling. The girls that live in the community are educated on their rights and are aware of any protocols if they feel unsafe or threatened. We also do home visits to ensure that the beneficiary is living in safe and livable conditions. Because our program is holistic and we foster a self-sustaining model of transition for the girls, they are often confident and able to successfully integrate into society as much as they can (keeping in mind economic restrictions placed on refugees in Kenya). I hope this helps answers your question! Thank you for your support!

Photo of Malik
Team

This is a really good idea. I'm curious though, is it possible to expand your idea after a certain point to include other areas of conflict? For example, if this idea were to be implemented in the Middle East? Also, would this be just for the country it is implemented in, or can anyone from surrounding areas utilize it?

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your comment, Malik! Right now our programming is only in Nairobi, but we would be happy to expand someday when the right resources and enough staff capacity become available! Thank you for your support!

Photo of Agaba Peter
Team

This is a very power full strategy i wish you guys can come to uganda

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you so much for your comment, Agaba! Hopefully one day with the right direction and resources we can replicate our model there as well! :)

Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Hi Azra, just wanted to share that you've been featured on our blog! Check it out at: https://challenges.openideo.com/blog/mikta-education-in-emergencies-challenge-themes-designing-for-educational-success-for-girls-in-emergency-settings

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Hi Ashley! That is such great news! :) We are so grateful and excited to be featured! Thank you so much for featuring us and letting us know! :)

Photo of Henning
Team

Hi Azra, I followed your project with huge interest and really appreciate the hard work you and Heshima Kenya is doing in Kenya. While you are established in Kenya since 2008 how is the improvement of the governmental recognition of your initiatives in Kenya? Also, I wanted to mention, that in my country (Germany) organisations such as Heshima Kenya can apply for volunteers who are applying for a so called  ´voluntary social year´ (usually students or graduates seeking for new experiences during gap years). I could imagine this would this would beneficial for the development of your organisational and for volunteers. Maintain your strong commitment and I wish you all the best in this competition and for your future success.

Best wishes ,
Henning

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Hi Henning! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! That is really interesting about Germany's volunteer program. I actually lived in Germany for six years (I am a former Bosnian refugee) and have heard of the program! As our organization grows, having volunteers like that one day would be great! To answer your question regarding the Kenyan Government, we are an established NGO with the NGO Board here in Kenya and are registered with all official Government institutions including the Charitable Children's Institution for our Safe House. We are up to date and strive to always be transparent and work with the Kenyan Government on any issues that may come up. Thank you again for taking the time to comment and your support! :)

Photo of Dave Hughes
Team

Hi Azra, this is a great idea! My name is David Hughes and I am the Project Director for the Bendigo Inventor Awards.

Now in our 7th year, the Bendigo Inventor awards have as our focus inventions that address needs in the Emergency Services and Disaster Management space, and we offer a AUD$10,000 prize for the winning entry. The Bendigo Inventor Awards has also created an environment for inventors to obtain support for their ideas by bringing together a coalition of partners with the knowledge, skills and networks to accelerate the progression of ideas from concept through to commercialisation. Major Program Partners include Engineers Australia who are providing technical feedback, KPMG who are offering advice on commercial viability and the path to commercialisation and Red Cross, who are providing their perspective on the relevance of many inventions to disaster relief efforts. Our judging panel also contains representatives from Emergency Management Victoria, who are able to provide similar feedback on the applicability of inventions to the emergency services.

I believe your idea would be a fantastic entry into the awards. Applying is easy and can be done through our website www.bendigoinventorawards.com.au/apply. Simply select the category that your invention applies to – ‘Concept’ or ‘Product and Prototype’, and answer some questions about your invention. All judges are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so your idea is protected. Entries close 5pm Friday 29th September 2017 AEST.

I very much look forward to seeing your invention go on to great success, and hope we are able to assist you in enabling that to happen. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch on the phone number above, or via my email at dhughes@bebendigo.com.au.

Regards,
David Hughes
Project Director
Bendigo Inventor Awards

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Hi David!

Thank you so much for that message! We will definitely take a look and see if we can apply. We appreciate you letting us know about it!

Best wishes,
Azra

Photo of Lisa Kovacs
Team

Hi Arza,
What a fantastic project, I would love to follow this. Can you please tell me how I can follow this? Sorry I am new to this website and process. Thanks Lisa :)

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Hi Lisa! Thank you for your message! I believe there should be a pop up when you go to this page and then you can enter your email and any changes that happen with the idea will be emailed to you as well as the final stages of the challenge! :)

Photo of Meggie Rie
Team

Such an amazing organization. So excited to see and hear about all of the work you are doing :)

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you so much for your sweet comment! :)

Photo of Ariana Ella
Team

I am honored to work for Heshima Kenya. The young women we serve are the most vulnerable of the world's refugees. Despite facing tremendous loss and hardship, the young women of Heshima Kenya are brimming with potential. Our holistic model of care meets each girl at the full spectrum of her needs- physically, mentally and emotionally, allowing her to feel empowered and strong again. By supporting our organization you are directly impacting a population most of the world overlooks. We are so grateful!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

We are so grateful for your work and support! Thank you! :)

Photo of Felis Dubet
Team

I have worked in Heshima Kenya for almost five years in the Girls Empowerment Program and I have seen and watched the lives of refugee girls, women and children change through a holistic program.
Under one roof they access Basic Education, Vocational training, Lifeskills and Income generation. Those who have children have the advantage of a child care unit which allows them to learn and at the same time visit their children for feeding and play. They are offered balanced tasty meals for breakfast and lunch. They are also given transport to and from their homes. Those with security issues are accomodated at a safe house.
All girls have access to psychosocial help.
The staff in Heshima Kenya are very caring and supportive and they treat the girls and children as their own family.
Whatsmore the girls have advantage of pursuing a Kenya national exams and certified for primary and secondary education. Heshima provides the girls a qualified and professional team of teachers who equip and empower the girls.
By supporting Heshima Kenya you are changing the lives of girls, women and children holistically. Help Heahima so that they can continue empowering girls and women.
Every girl, every woman and every child in Heshima Kenya is treated special as individuals. Child protection is at the core of all Heshima's work.
Bravo Heshima Kenya for your wonderful humanitarian work and keeping Refugees safe!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your hard work and contribution! We value and appreciate you! :)

Photo of Amani Mercy
Team

Building resilience, economic and social empowerment, and psycho-social support is part of Heshima Kenya's transformation agenda for young refugee women and adolescents girls in Kenya. Our holistic model promotes academic and skills training, realizing that education is a fundamental right for all people, including refugees. We are very excited about this challenge, whose success will help us accelerate our interventions and reach for more refugee girls and women who desperately need our support.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your comment, Amani! :)

Photo of moe ahmed
Team

Heshima Kenya has proven that when given the right training's, mentoring and support services, even the most vulnerable girls can turn their lives around and transform themselves, their families and communities. Thank you for sharing your idea. Will this mean that this idea will expand to other girls in the community whom will not be enrolled in Heshima Kenya G.E.P due to the high demand of the refugee population in Nairobi?

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Hi Moe thank you for your support and your comment! This project will not be expanding to that specifically, however, our Community Outreach program and team does just that! They work with the community and refugee women in the community to increase awareness of refugee issues and help the women gain resources to help their businesses in the community. Our last Open IDEO project that we won was in support of just this- we administered 74 loans to refugee women in the community to provide skills building classes and resources in order for them women to strengthen their businesses and communication in the community.

Photo of Chris Gordon
Team

Heshima does such important work and is greatly needed as the only institution of its kind in Kenya. The girls are well-taken-care-of and well-prepared when they come out of the program. The world needs more organizations like Heshima!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your comment and your support Chris! :)

Photo of Benedict
Team

Heshima Kenya Girls Empowerment program is like no other in the country. It provides opportunity for lasting transformation to refugee girls and young women whose lives would have remained that of desperation and hopelessness. Once they go through the program, the evidence is there. You only need to meet one of the beneficiaries before and after. Heshima Kenya keep up the transforming programs and great work.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your comment Benedict! :)

Photo of Brad Barbera
Team

I've had the privilege of working with the people of Heshima Kenya, and I cannot begin to describe how powerful is the work that they do. Please support them in their work to help the most vulnerable people on earth.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your kind comment, Brad! We appreciate and are honored by your support! :)

Photo of Alysha Sidhu
Team

What a great program! Could serve as a great pilot for other ways of serving refugees. Thank you for sharing your idea and for all of the great work you have done so far.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you so much for your comment, Alysha! We hope to eventually expand our program within Kenya and other countries if possible so that we can serve more refugee girls and young women globally!

Photo of Elissa Christian
Team

Wow, what an incredible program. I have been shopping through the Maisha Collective for some while now, but am more recently becoming aware of how much Heshima Kenya actually does for the girls. Thank you for your work in supporting the "invisible" people who are most in need... Can you elaborate a little bit about how the children of the girls are supported through the program? I see that many of the girls come with a child (or even two) to Heshima Kenya, do they also receive help?

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you for your comment Elissa! We have an Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) as part of our Girls' Education Project (GEP). Children as young as a couple of months old to age 10 attend this program and receive early childhood education and attention and care while their mothers are attending their own classes in the GEP. This ensures that mothers are able to focus on their school work while they have peace of mind that their children are well-cared for by our staff but also receiving early childhood education. They are also provided the nutrition that they need to grow into healthy and happy kids!

Photo of Carol
Team

I am even more impressed with Heshima after learning the specifics. I am curious as to how you reach out to those in need - how do they find their way to you?
Thanks so much for all that you do!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you for your sweet comment and contribution, Carol! We have a variety of ways that girls are referred to our programming. Some of it stems from our partner organizations including, UNHCR Kenya, various embassies located in Kenya, the Department of Refugee Affairs in Kenya, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, as well as others. Most referrals are made soon after the girl reaches out to our partner organizations as we are the only organization that provides basic services and needs to unaccompanied minor refugee girls and young women. Existing beneficiaries also act as referrals, especially if they are living in the community and identify vulnerable cases to our staff. Furthermore, our Community Outreach team also works with the community to refer cases to us where we are able to assist and offer programming services.

Photo of Dominique Brown
Team

Heshima Kenya does really important work in a time that it is most needed. How are you finding your work has shifted in the face of challenging political realities and animosity towards immigrants and refugees in Europe and the U.S.?

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you so much for your lovely words and question! We are definitely navigating one day at a time during the political climate globally but also staying increasingly positive because so far the response in helping refugees and our organization has been positive! There are more advocates than ever fighting for the same cause and advocating to their political officials in their countries that refugees deserve basic human rights and services too and our protection. We are working to increase and diversify our funding base during this time and increase awareness more than ever. We are so grateful at the overwhelming response from volunteers, supporters, donors, and anyone stepping up to say a kind word about this important issue and help push us forward in providing more beneficiaries with the quality care and attention that they deserve!

Photo of Goldfish1
Team

How do you help the girls with political reality facing them? And hunger? Issues of their reality.  Thank you for what you do and wonderful products you sell.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you for your contribution! We are the only organization in Kenya that provides holistic programming to our girls in terms of education, counseling, physical and mental health care, life skills and vocational training, resettlement guidance, and mentorship. For many of our girls that live in the Safe House have never met other ethnicities or may be from ethnicities that are currently in conflict with one another. Our Safe House staff and counsellors work on with both individuals and group counseling to discuss and talk through these issues. The girls feel more comfortable after learning from one another and recognizing the vulnerability of fellow roommates as they are coming from different countries but very similar backgrounds. At the GEP also, we foster a sense of community and camaraderie in order to ensure that our girls recognize the importance of freedom and human rights and that every girl deserves to feel safe and empowered and have access to basic services and education.

Photo of Goldfish1
Team

thank you for your response and actions.  We would LOVE to send cards of encouragement again to your staff and girls, anytime!

Photo of Anna Maitland
Team

Heshimya Kenya and the Maisha collective continue to do cutting edge, vitally important work. Their commitment to growth and expansion can be seen through these programs, and their expansion to include more young women and to support continued engagement with graduates of the Maisha program is exciting and invaluable in the struggle to provide meaningful, long-lasting, and innovative responses to refugees.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you for your support, Anna! We are committed to providing our girls with the necessary education, life-skills, and vocational training that they need in order to be able to participate in the Maisha Collective and earn and save their stipends to be able to start their own businesses! We agree the key to our success so far has been providing meaningful and long-lasting solutions in terms of education and skills-building in order to ensure self-sustainability and empowerment!

Photo of Patty Hall
Team

Heshima has a great plan that will benefit many women in Kenya. Providing training that leads to jobs is imperative. I have purchased product from Heshima, and have directed others to their website.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your support, Patty! We are so honored to have your support! :)

Photo of Felister
Team

Keep it up Heshima kenya. Kindly elaborate on how the project will address male involvement in the empowerment of women/girls.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your contribution! Our Community Outreach program works with the community to hold discussions and trainings on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) prevention. Males and females in the community are invited to receive training from our Community Outreach officers regarding identifying vulnerable cases and referring them to the appropriate health care resources and counseling. Since our founding, we have reached out to over 22,000 individuals in the community through our Community Outreach program.

Photo of Katie
Team

I applaud the work you are doing and think that it is so very important. The reach of your program is very impressive! I would love to come visit in person on my next trip to Kenya. Keep up the good work!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your contribution Katie! We are passionate and committed to helping refugee girls and young women and are so grateful for the support of people just like you! Thank you!

Photo of dakini
Team

It's exciting to see Heshima Kenya taking the lead on durable solutions for refugee livelihoods, especially for vulnerable girls and young women. What are the market opportunities your team envisions if this project were to be funded?

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Great question! Thank you for your contribution! Some of the market opportunities that we are envisioning would be part of the Heshima Kenya Alumni program. Our pilot project of 12 alumni would be using fabrics from the Maisha Collective, our social enterprise program where girls hand-dye and create one-of-a-kind scarves. The Alumni group would use that fabric to do a mixture of other patterns for our scarves and other items that we also sell such as baby onesies and scrunchies. We would also be open to collaborating with other companies and organizations on joint projects to expand the line after our initial pilot project. I hope this helps to clarify your question and please let me know if you have any further questions. We'd be happy to answer them!

Photo of dakini
Team

Your team is quite professional and well-organized in planning and execution, kudos to you! Out of curiosity, are you conducting any market research or surveys to strategically assess expansion of the Maisha Collective line? I love the idea of an alumni program, as refugee girls who are graduates need durable solutions long term. This idea meets that need with innovation and creativity!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Thank you very much for your kind words! We appreciate your support! We are in the process of doing market research to test ideas in expanding our Maisha Collective line and potentially introducing new products! We are not committed to any certain path, but are exploring ideas in new patterns, designs, and products through this research and after it is completed will consult with our team internally to decide a new direction for the Maisha Collective. Part of this will also affect the Heshima Kenya alumni program and what products they will work on during their participation in the program.

Photo of Margaret Evans
Team

I have worked with immigrant and refugee women and girls in the U.S., as well as in the realm of violence intervention and prevention, and fully support this project proposal. I feel that the addition to the GEP is essential, as well as adding more choices for women and girls to partake in as far as vocational training is concerned. One of the most important pieces (often left out of the equation) when providing services aimed at helping empower women and girls, is job skills training and/or financial literacy  -- components which aid in building a life of independence and promoting a sense of self-worth.

My question (s) would be how the Heshima Kenya team plans to engage with the local community (who would you work with/alongside, etc.) to make these ideas sustainable and/or what would be your plan for sustainability, and also helping the women and girls you work with feel connected and part of the larger whole during or after participating in education/training?

Thanks for sharing this idea with others! I look forward to seeing this project proposal move towards the next phase of the Open IDEO process!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Wow thank you so much for your work with refugees! It is extremely important to help empower refugee girls and young women through job skills training and financial literacy training. We do train our beneficiaries in life skills and business and financial literacy training, helping guide them through the opportunity to open up their own businesses in the community once they graduate and/or to grow their existing businesses. Our Community Outreach team works with the community and beneficiaries to help the community understand where our refugee beneficiaries are coming from but also our beneficiaries to work with the community to get the materials and resources that they need. An important part of that relationship is fostering language skills, as the community does not always have a favorable outlook on refugees. Our Community Outreach team work with the community to host monthly trainings and discussions regarding Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) that refugee women and girls face as well as cultural understanding amongst one another. Our outreach team also works directly and one-on-one with beneficiaries to help them to go to the market and work with local community suppliers to get their materials and set up their businesses. Our Outreach team visits with beneficiaries in their apartments within the community to ensure that they are safe and able to sustain themselves. In some cases the Community Outreach team provides monetary assistance for rent and food baskets for beneficiaries that may be struggling at the moment. Our Community Outreach team strives to provide a full spectrum of needs when it comes to providing the support and assistance our beneficiaries need when laying the groundwork for their financial and economic independence.
I hope this helps to clarify your question and again thank you for your work and your contribution!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Also, part of the Community Outreach team was our previous project with Open IDEO in that we provided 74 women with micro loans to help to grow their businesses. The women received training in soap making, bleach making, cosmetology, cooking, and a few other vocational courses in order to diversify and expand their skill set. The women were also trained on business and financial literacy training in order to ensure their success and sustainability of their business. This project was a great success and welcomed by both the beneficiaries and the community and we are sustaining that project still today. We are grateful for the support of the Open IDEO challenge and the ability to have piloted and pushed this program because our Community Outreach program is now able to help more refugee women and empower them to a sustainable financial future.

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Team

I have a close look up at Heshima Kenya and say, You are doing a great job on refugee girls around Kenya and Somalia.

My question is how would I give personal assistance to Kenyan refugee girls in Kenya/Somalia by making their life smoother as where I come from there are many refugee camps around my location?

Thank you very much.

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Team

Thank you very much for your kind words Soud! You can always give assistance through our website www.heshimakenya.org where we have a few options to get involved. One way is through direct donations, which will go across all of our programming so the Girls' Education Project (GEP), Safe House, Maisha Collective, and physical and mental health care. While we cannot directly guarantee that the funding goes to any specific ethnicity, we can assure you that your funding is going towards all of our refugee girls and helping to help them feel safe, empowered, and obtain their education! A significant portion of our girls are from Somalia due to the conflicts there, but we also host girls from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and a few others! Thank you for your contribution!

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Team

What an exciting and important project!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

We think so too! Thank you so much for your contribution Paige!

Photo of Alexis Felder
Team

Thanks for sharing this wonderful project! I have visited Heshima in Nairobi and have seen the program in action and the positive impact that it has on the lives of women and girls.

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Team

Thank you very much for your comment Alexis! We are happy to have hosted you and welcome the chance to do so again! Seeing our work in person has a powerful effect where you can see in person the positive changes that our girls go through! Thank you!

Photo of Megan Sidhu
Team

This looks like a great project! Can you share more about the support that the Alumni will be receiving?

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Absolutely! Thank you for your question! The project would be helping to implement our pilot project for Heshima Kenya Alumni. The initial pilot would bring in 12 former Heshima Kenya alumni, to come to our administrative office location in Nairobi and help work on various projects using Maisha Collective hand-dyed fabrics. The beneficiaries would be receiving business and financial literacy training to help them grow their education and skills in helping to build and expand their businesses within their communities. They would also be receiving a small stipend to help them with their rent support and also in some cases food baskets to help them and their children while they are in the program.

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Hi Azra and Team!

We’re excited to share feedback and questions from our experts with you. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your Idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your Idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

Based on your knowledge and experience, is this a new approach or bold way of answering the challenge question?
One expert shared, “Heshima Kenya sounds like a wonderful program that is going a long way toward meeting the needs of refugees / displaced girls in East Africa. However, it's unclear to me how exactly they would use the additional funding to scale or to test some new approaches. I would be interested to better understand this.”

Is your idea human-centered?
One expert stated, “I appreciate that Heshima Kenya is focused on the full range of needs that a refugee girl might have. Her needs include safe space; psychosocial counseling; medical care; literacy and broader education; and economic self-sufficiency. This organization has thought through all of these aspects in their work with 3,000+ girls. I am interested to learn more about the Alumni idea as a way to grow a support network and continually re-engage the community.”
Questions that came up, was how do you capture insights and learnings from the girls you work with to iterate and grow your program?

Expert’s thoughts on your business model:
Experts shared that the exact funding model was not clear, they are interested to learn what that currently looks like and what your ideas are to increase financial sustainability for the future might look like?

Final thoughts and questions:
If chosen through this innovation challenge, how would you leverage the resources? Would you do anything new/differently? Or focus on expanding your existing programmatic areas? How will you continue to iterate on your model (if at all) to ensure you continue to meet the complex needs of the community you support?

Join us for Storytelling Office Hours tomorrow, Tuesday, July 25, 2017 from 8:30AM - 9:30AM PST! RSVP here: https://openideo.typeform.com/to/T9IonO. Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an Idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - August 6 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your Idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Have questions? Email us at hello@openideo.com

Looking forward to reading more and thank you for the important work you are doing!

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Team

Hello Open IDEO team and experts!

Thank you very much for your thoughtful questions! We are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the refinement phase!

To answer the first question regarding scaling of programming with the additional funding, the additional funding would be used to bring in beneficiaries that are on the wait list into our existing programming. With more beneficiaries in the programming and an increase in graduations, we would be growing our alumni program that brings in Heshima Kenya alumni to work on Maisha Collective projects. The alumni would receive continued business and financial literacy training as well as a stipend to help with their rent in the community and if appropriate food assistance.

For the next set of questions regarding our alumni program and capturing feedback. we capture feedback from our girls throughout their time at Heshima Kenya. We work alongside our beneficiaries continuously and during all stages to listen to their ideas and feedback and incorporate that dialogue into our programming. We work with girls to ensure that they feel safe, well cared for, and comfortable in their learning environment. We also work with donors to continue to expand programming and shape curriculum to best train girls in the skills that they need to survive and thrive long after they've graduated Heshima Kenya. We strive to provide the equivalent of primary school education in Kenya and enable the girls to be able to successfully pass the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam.

Regarding our financial sustainability, the funding model includes grant funding from the Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Foundation founding including NoVo Foundation, Pathy Foundation, Imago Dei Fund, Zakat Foundation, Manaaki Foundation, as well as other family foundations. We also accept individual donations and receive revenue from our social enterprise program, the Maisha Collective. We are constantly working with current donors to expand our outreach and meet all targets in order to sustain our relationships and continue funding into the future. We also work on prospect donor and grant research, consistently answering to request for proposals in order to increase and diversify our funding base. We also have a contingency fund for emergencies.

And for the final few questions regarding leveraging resources and whether we would do anything new or differently, we would move our main Girls' Education Program (GEP) campus to a larger location to bring in more girls from our wait list. We would also leverage funding to expand and promote our Alumni Program for Heshima Kenya alumni. We would continue to ensure that as we are expanding that we are providing quality holistic programming to all of our girls and ensuring that they feel safe, care for, and that we are meeting all of their needs physically, mentally, and emotionally. We have also been planning on introducing the new Alumni Program in the fall and are excited to get started and bring in around 12 girls for our first run of the program and then hopefully continue to grow the number of alumni participants.

I hope this helps to answer the questions posed so far and please let us know if there are any other ones and if we can clarify further! :)

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Hi Azra, great to have you in the Challenge! Would love to learn a little more about how you measure your success and impact with the 3,000 girls you've served to date? Would also love to learn a little more on how you hope to expand/grow/improve your program in the next 1-2 years?

Excited to learn more about your work!

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Hello! Thank you for having us be part of the Challenge! We keep track of all of our beneficiaries in separate beneficiary files and record any of the services that we provide for them whether that may be medical care or counseling to what level of schooling they are in the GEP and things like that. We also keep track of their SGBV cases, but with restricted access only intended for their counsellors as that is sensitive information. Overall, we record the overall number of beneficiaries we serve and demographic data in excel spreadsheets that our GEP Coordinator updates. We are currently in the process of migrating this data over to Salesforce once we implement the program and be better able to track this data as we grow and expand. We always have a wait list of girls wanting to be part of our programming and try to accommodate as many as we can as girls exit our programming as well. We have a strong fundraising team that focuses on individual and foundation relationships in order to cultivate additional funding for Heshima to be able to expand and serve more girls than ever! Our most immediate push over the next 2 years is to implement and pilot our Maisha Alumni program, where we invite some of our Maisha Collective alumni girls to work on projects and receive a stipend in order to support themselves as they are living in the community.

Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Hi Azra, thanks for the additional information! Great to hear you have such strong practices for tracking data. If you were to receive funding for this project would if be focused on the alumni program or towards expanding your core programing? Also would love to learn what your thoughts are for the long-term sustainability of your model both programmatically and financially?

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Hi Ashley! Great questions, thank you for your contribution! We would focus on our core programming and expanding to make sure that we serve as many beneficiaries as possible. As far as long-term sustainability, because we strive to provide holistic programming including counseling, medical and mental health care, as well as life-skills building in the core education program we are ensuring that our beneficiaries are able to feel safe, comfortable, and able to retain the knowledge they gain in their glasses at the Girls' Education Program. Financially we are always seeking to expand our fundraising efforts and maintain and expand our relationships with donors. We have a 2-month contingency fund that we contribute to should we fall behind on any donations and are always seeking to increase those funds for further sustainability. I hope that helps to answer your question, if you have any others we would love to hear them!

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Hi Azra, great to have you in the Challenge! The Ideas Phase closes June 25 at 11:30PM PST. Make sure your idea is published so others can see it! Only published ideas are eligible. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top.

We're looking forward to seeing your contribution in this challenge!