By Mercy Ndunda
In Kenya, one in three women have experienced an episode of physical or sexual violence according to recent statistics by World Health Organization (WHO).
A case in point is the incident that took place at Forest Road, Nairobi County, earlier this week that made even the head of state, President Uhuru Kenyatta speak out.
It was one of the few non political hashtags that managed to trend in the now highly spiked political period.
Young girls being the most affected, are exposed to early marriages, early pregnancies and drug addiction; which many resolve to as a coping mechanism.
Most girls living in the slums of Mikindani, Mombasa County have been victims of this menace, forcing many to drop out of school.
Poverty and low levels of economic standards act as catalysts for the problem, leading some to venture in to prostitution just to earn a living.
The narrative however, is slowly changing. Thanks to a humble program initiated to help teen mothers and vulnerable adolescent girls, through empowering them with beauty skills to improve their livelihoods.
Mikindani Hair and Beauty College, has become a safe haven for vulnerable women and girls, offering counseling and beauty training at a relatively low cost. Therefore, calling an end to sexual and physical abuse on women.
Ms. Evelyn Akinyi is the college administrator. She prides hers self on beig able to create employment opportunities for more that 50 girls, all of whom have established themselves as hairdressers and beauty therapists all around Mombasa.
“The college which started last year in June has a trained over 70 girls and mothers as of now, and most of them depend on themselves.” Said Ms. Akinyi.
The day typically commences with a counseling session that takes place in the morning.
“I mostly emphasize on giving them hope so that even if they come out of the college with just a little knowledge in beauty therapy, they will manage to cope with life. In cases where the trainee is older than me , I usually hand them over to their perspective trainers and the response I get back is always appealing.” Added Akinyi.
The college offers courses in hairdressing, nail technology, cosmetology and barbering. Admission is free and trainees pay a little maintenance fee of as low as Sh 200 per month which is set according to their capabilities.
Ms. Khadija Rashid, a beneficiary of the program, expresses her joy of being among the trainees at the institution. She says, she has gained alot of skills that if offered a job she can gladly do it .
“I am happy to be among the trainees in the college. I chose this institution since the administration understands us even when we are financially unstable, they give us chances to still train.” She said.
The rescue hub is not devoid of challenges as well. The growing number of trainees day by day results in scarcity of learning materials to teach with.
The few that are available cannot sustain the large numbers new enlisters to the program.
Also, some trainees have to attend classes while still nursing their babies.
“As at now we are torn between following Covid-19 social distancing protocols, or stick with the small facility and limited resources so as to help as many victims as possible. But if we can also get well wishers who are willing to support the institution with funds so as to assist the vulnerable group, we would be more than happy.” Said Ms. Akinyi.
Despite the challenges the collage faces, Ms. Akinyi is glad that she is the epitome of hope in her community, and looks forward to meeting and training the girls every single day.