Small Grants Making a Huge Impact in East Africa
On Saturday, November 19, Wendo Aszed of Dandelion Africa and Francoise Nibizi of SaCoDe two of our East Africa grant partners, joined 60+ Pangea members and guests at the Wellspring Family Services building in Seattle for brunch and a program. They discussed at length what is making their programs successful in rural Kenya and Burundi, made possible with relatively small Pangea Giving grants, and how they are now helping thousands of women and girls.
These two outstanding women exemplify the best in non-profit leaders and are a prime example of how small grants in the hands of excellent partners can be leveraged for maximum impact.
Pangea provided an initial grant of $5,000 in 2014 to fund the launch Dandelion’s “Girls for Leaders” program in central rural Kenya and 2 subsequent annual grants for a total of $24,000 to date. The program empowers young girls by providing them student mentors, training in sexual and reproductive health, hygiene through distribution of sanitary pads and support to succeed in school. The first year, the program was launched in one school and served 22 girls and has expanded to benefit 515 girls from 8 schools to date. According to Wendo, this next year will see the program in 20 schools benefiting about 900 girls. The past two years also saw the addition of boys’ support groups that now have 496 boys involved. These groups of young men learn about female issues and support the discontinuance of the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in their villages by insisting that they will not marry a woman who has undergone this procedure, a brave declaration in the face of longstanding tribal traditions. In 2016, 5 chiefs reported No FGM in their villages as a result of the program and overall school dropout rates have plummeted.
SaCoDe has received $12,000 from Pangea over the last 2 years for its Agateka program (meaning dignity in the Kirundi language). From a small start in 2015 with a grant of just $4000, the program now benefits over 9000 girls and has created a continually growing demand for their vital program that supports the manufacture of non-disposal menstrual pads for school girls, along with an educational programs in sexual and reproductive health. The manufacture of the pads now employs 60 disadvantaged women (from SaCoDe and 2 other organizations that they trained) providing income for them and their families. Disposable products are generally too costly for poor girls in the rural areas of Burundi to afford and substitute products are not always hygienic. The product manufactured by Sacode is durable and washable and allows young women a healthy alternative for consistent use, allowing them to regularly attend school. Without this product, they miss about six days of school per month, fall behind in their studies and eventually drop out of school. Francoise spoke passionately about the importance of doing everything possible to support girls’ education and prevent the cycle of poverty when girls drop out of school and get caught in the tradition of early marriage and multiple pregnancies.
Pangea members and guests who attended the event left feeling uplifted to see how these wonderful African women have used our small grants, along with their energy, courage and leadership to leverage so much positive change in their communities. In our recent divisive political climate, where the potential for greater division between people of diverse heritage threatens, it is good to remember positive acts of solidarity across borders.
As Joshua Machinga of Common Ground, one of our original African Grantees recently wrote to us, “You are a team that is fully committed to the dignity and rights of every person in several countries on this planet…You have joined with us and others time and again to stand with the poorest and most oppressed communities in their struggle to put food on the table; live a decent life and build the kind of world we want to live in.” He further encouraged us to see the promise of a better world as inspiration to work together to ensure that better future.
By: Maryann Ness, Pangea Giving member & E Africa liaison