In 2011 we started dedicating more time towards formalising our activities and becoming better established as a charity. As part of this, we conducted a needs assessment with the grandmothers in our group to ascertain what the main problems are that they are facing and the causes of these problems. After identifying the problems and causes, we could then better design project activities to address real challenges in the area. Key challenges that became very apparent were household nutrition and sex education and HIV/AIDS awareness. Poverty was an underlying root cause for many of the challenges, but we hope to boost these households in a way that they can improve their household food security, the children gain the confidence needed to practice safe sex when they begin to have sexual encounters, and everyone in our group feels supported by one another and are able to stand up to stigmatisation inflicted by the wider community.
During the latter part of 2011, we began working with a lady called Kathy who is an experienced sex education trainer and her colleague Magdaline. They offered a workshop to our teenage girls in how to make reusable/washable sanitary pads and to talk about female hygiene so we took this up and Magdaline came to run the one-day workshop in October. We will be running more of these as it proved to be very popular and generated a lot of interest outside our group.
In 2011, we had three big meetings with all the children and their guardians - in April, August and December. We provided group counselling during these meetings, although we're looking to do counselling with smaller groups in the future, and distributed foodstuffs, clothing, exercise books and pencils to each of our members.
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Despite facing some challenges at the start of this year we are continuing to support our teenagers through secondary school and those doing vocational courses with money we have managed to fundraise from family and friends. We're in the process of making grant applications to ensure we can continue our work into the future. Sad news this month is that one of our grandmothers has passed away leaving behind the two siblings she was caring for, we will do our best to support them as they go through this difficult time.
We are currently supporting 15 teenagers through the third term of secondary school, with two more being sponsored by Equity Bank. In August we ran two sexual health workshops, one for our guardians and members of the wider community, and the other for all our teenagers 11yrs+. This was in collaboration with the ABCs of Sex Education who did a fantastic job, bringing a great sense of humour into an otherwise serious topic. We have also run four more successful workshops this year in April, May and August. Theatre, art, music and counselling through this medium is having a transformative effect on all our children. They are noticeably less depressed, more confident, and building strong relationships with their peers and guardians.
This month we're holding two workshops during the Easter holidays for our youngsters - one is a 10 day residential theatre and art therapy workshop and the other is a four day music workshop. We're excited to be able to give the children this opportunity to learn and grow in such creative spaces!