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Interfaith Youth Advocacy On Early Childhood Development In Homabay County

Interfaith Youth Advocacy On Early Childhood Development In Homabay County

“Through holding sensitizations, I have been able to empower my fellow girls in the community who are pregnant, and some who are breastfeeding. We have been able to tell them the importance of taking care of their children, especially the first 1000 days” – Basra Hassan, as she engages passionately about the undertakings she has been involved in at the County.

Homabay County has been highlighted as one of the counties where engagements through multi-sectoral forums by key stakeholders can enhance championing children’s rights. In December 2023 Judges in Homabay County called for stakeholders to work together for the good of the children. Justice Waweru Kiarie who is a High Court judge in the county states that stakeholders have a responsibility to ensure that children are protected and brought up in the best way possible. The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) in partnership with Catholic Relief Service (CRS) is implementing the “Strengthening Faith Systems for Early Childhood Development” project in Homabay County. This is through building the capacity of inter-faith leaders including clergy, youth and women to advocate for nurturing care for early childhood.

“Through holding sensitizations, I have been able to empower my fellow girls in the community who are pregnant, and some who are breastfeeding.”

– Basra Hassan

Basra Hassan an Interfaith Youth representing SUPKEM in Homabay County and an adolescent champion who is passionate about ECD matters. On this particular day, the Directorate of Child Services in Homabay County was building interfaith capacity built on legal instruments; she stands out as one of the passionate youths and ECD champions in the county.

“We have been able to tell young mothers in the community why it is important to take care of their children. We have been sensitized and in return, we have sensitized young mothers in our community.” – Basra Hassan.

Basra in her capacity as an interfaith youth has been sensitized through the collaboration of IRCK and CRS on the Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood (NCfECD). The NCfECD notes that science has shown the critical importance of the first 1000 days, starting from pregnancy to 3 years and that children at that age need to receive nurturing care to grow and develop optimally. This means that they enjoy adequate nutrition and good health, feel safe and secure, and have opportunities for learning starting from birth. This has been emphasized by the interfaith network through community dialogues held in various sub-counties.

“We have seen women apply for jobs after the sensitization because they have realized their children need to have healthy nutrition. Some of them have even started kitchen gardens where they plant their own food” – Basra Hassan

Interfaith youth in their capacity have held dialogues with young mothers in areas such as Makongeni safe spaces where Sheryl Mumbi as a representative of young mothers in the county acknowledges that young women are adopting the 5 components of the nurturing care framework, especially the good health and adequate nutrition. She also mentions that through the interfaith platforms, they have been linked with other partner organizations in the county and through these linkages they have been challenged on being economically empowered. The young women have also been supported to start small businesses especially starting their own kitchen gardens.

“I was trained by Religious Leaders on taking care of myself and also on positive nurturing care.  Young mothers, including me, were trained in income-generating activities. From this we were linked with an organization that supported us to start farming activities.” – Sheryl Mumbi, a youth Champion and representative for young mothers from Makongeni Facility emphasizes the positive gains of the program.

Young mothers in the county can own the process by being involved in other economic empowerment forums in the county and most have been able to actualize the things they were taught. Lilian Awour Odhiambo who is a young mother has been able to start her own kitchen garden, she has planted vegetables in previous seasons but this season she tells us that she has planted maize.

Tumekuwa tukipata pesa na vile nilipata yangu niliona ninunue maize seeds, nianze ukulima. Nimeifanya for long. Nilianza na Mboga. Niliambia Rafiki yangu pia na pia yeye ako na shamba kama mimi. – Lilian Awour Odhiambo  [We have been getting money and as soon as I got mine, I decided to buy maize seeds and start farming. I have done it for long. I started with Vegetables. I told my friend too and he also has a farm like me.}

The Strengthening Faith Communities for ECD in Homabay County program continues to empower young mothers and caregivers through community dialogues and sensitizations. The young women and caregivers have embraced the program and are cascading this information and continuously advocating the five components of the nurturing care framework.

By Mary Ndulili

Previous Religious Leaders Call for ECD Centers at Vocational Centers in Homabay County

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