Fifty girls were handed their certificates upon graduation from Wa-Kesho CBO Centre having completed a one-year training in fashion and design, soap making, embroidery and baking. The courses are offered at the centre, the most successful project in Mombasa under the Kenya Coastal Development Project (KCDP) funded by the World Bank and anchored by KMFRI.

KMFRI’s KCDP Project Manager Dr Jacqueline Uku, Livelihood Component Manager Dr Melckzedeck Osore, Ms Mealii Hussein who represented Gender Affairs PS Ms Mwanamaka Mabruki, and Frere Town ward MCA Mr Charles Kitula graced the occasion held on January 13, 2018, at the CBO’s compound in Kisauni Constituency.

The centre, which is managed by two directors: Mr Peter Kamau and Ms Jane Mbinga, helps orphaned and vulnerable girls aged between 12 and 20 years, with majority being standard eight dropouts. The two directors donated 12 sewing machines to the graduands whereby one will be shared by three girls. Using the machines, the young women will be expected to start their own business from which they will generate profits and use the proceeds to each buy her own. Students currently at the centre receive stipend, obtained from the sale of clothes, embroidery, cakes and soaps made at the CBO, to buy personal effects such as sanitary towels, lightening their families’ and guardians’ financial burden.

Former students who benefited from the courses and are now employed or running their businesses gave a moving account of how the centre transformed their lives. Twenty-two year-old Catherine Mwaka who was orphaned at a tender age; Scholar Wali and Margaret Wanyika both aged 19 are among major beneficiaries.

Livelihood Component Manager Dr Melckzedeck Osore presents a certificate to a graduand during the graduation ceremony

During the function, Ms Hussein asked the graduands and former students at the CBO to seek help from loan officer in the county and apply for growth funds to expand their businesses. She acknowledged the strides that the country has made in empowering women and advised them to form groups to enable them advance their agenda collectively.

Mr Kitula said he is committed to serving the public and his doors are open for any resident who needs his help.

Dr Uku congratulated the girls and presented the CBO with a certificate of achievement for running a successful project, saying it exceeded expectations. She praised the directors of the centre for helping the vulnerable and marginalised girls. The KCDP Manager said women are all-rounded and are entrusted with most responsibilities in their families hence the need to empower them for them to use gifts they are endowed with. She asked the girls to grow deeper in humility and encouraged them to learn new things to achieve greater heights, appealing to them to replicate a similar centre in their locations for more girls to benefit. “Our job as a project was only to light a candle,” Dr Uku said. Dr Osore congratulated the girls and wished them well in their future endeavours.

Graduands during the second graduation ceremony

Wa-Kesho CBO has attracted a volunteer from the US, Ms Gwen Aman who is mentoring the girls at the centre, and has bought an oven to enable the centre diversify the confectionery business. The centre also received financial support from other partners which has enabled the group to venture into the business of selling virgin coconut oil, further diversifying its sources of income, guaranteeing the girls a bright future. 

Mr Kamau and Ms Mbinga thanked KMFRI and KCDP for their contribution towards the centre, and extended gratitude to well-wishers who sponsored the graduation ceremony.