Women For Women In Africa making a difference
“Every three seconds, one person dies of extreme poverty.”
That was the opening line of a high school speech I wrote about 10 years ago. Fast-forward 10 years and I’m on the phone speaking to Marguerite Ryan, founder and chairwoman of Women For Women In Africa (WFWIA). The difference between then and now is that since Marguerite's organisation began, they’ve worked tirelessly to try and change that fact.
Women For Women In Africa works with impoverished women and children from the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, to help develop the skills needed to be self-sustainable in such a challenging environment. The charity’s mission statement: to help those who live there forge a better life for themselves.
Want to help Women For Women In Africa? Keep reading to learn how you can help?
My conversation with Marguerite began with a list of bewildering statistics:
- There are over 1 million people living below the poverty line in the Kibera slum.
The people of Kibera are packed into an area of just 2.5 square kilometres.
Kibera is the largest slum in East Africa.
Marguerite continued to explain that many children were forced into unhealthy, dangerous career paths because they had no other choice. It's all about survival. As a result, children are led toward prostitution, drugs and crime.
The WFWIA team believe that this all stops with education. On a trip for work to Nairobi when Marguerite saw a need to help the Kibera community - resulting in her starting up WFWIA - the women said: "Don’t waste on us, we have no hope, please educate our children."
A decade on and WFWIA has sent over 2000 children from the Kibera slum to primary, secondary and post-secondary school, which has led to graduates in nursing, law, teaching, IT, hairdressing and cooking.
Every one of those who has completed post-secondary now has a job.
It costs just $1250 a year to send one child to school. Within that cost, everything from toothbrushes to books, food and accommodation is covered. Some children have gone from living in broken down homes with no water, sanitation or their own bed to a safe environment where, for the first time, the child sleeps in his/her own bed and has three meals a day.
Marguerite relayed a story about two students who were eating plain flour. That’s right, Marguerite found them eating flour because they were so hungry. She told stories about siblings having to take turns eating only every 3-4 days because they had next to nothing. WFWIA help wherever they can when alerted to these situations.
There’s no doubt that what Marguerite’s charity does is important, but it’s also incredibly effective. She says that every time she returns, she notices a change in the children who have gone to school - their attitude is that they can succeed and they can have a life.
One-hundred percent of donations and funding goes straight to Kibera, where the team are on the ground helping the community every day. They’re also currently working on building a boarding school on their own land, a $2 million project that will be built on donation alone.
When I asked Marguerite what we as Australians could do to help, she said that as much as she disliked saying it, the most effective way of contributing was to donate money. A little goes a very long way in that part of the world, and it’s the easiest way to get the children exactly what they need.
A less obvious way to contribute is to volunteer your skills at the Melbourne-based office. All WFWIA staff are volunteers and they’re currently in need of a talented web programmer, graphic designer and social media wiz. If you possess any of these talents and are looking for a way to help out an incredibly important cause, please reach out to Marguerite at email@example.com.
Marguerite also encourages anyone visiting the Kibera area to stop by and say hello to the hard-working team over there. Plus, if you have any contributable skills such as teaching or nursing, there are volunteer positions available. Once again, please inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here at YsPeople, we’re so passionate about helping others in need and doing what we can to give back. If you feel as passionate as us about Marguerite’s incredible foundation, please share this article with your network to spread the word.
Also, let us know if there are any other charities close to your heart that you’d like us to reach out to and learn more about.