By Eric Ndigu
In the heart of Kitui County, Mwingi Central, lies a cluster of villages where the essence of community, resilience, and volunteerism is becoming a way of life. Amidst the undulating landscapes and vibrant cultures, a group of young mothers has emerged as champions of change, through their selfless volunteer efforts in the My Village Project.
My Village Project is a dynamic educational initiative that employs a multifaceted approach to enhance the learning experience of learners who may be struggling with class work. It utilizes an array of tools such as picture cards for visual learning, word recognition exercises to improve literacy skills, and storybook reading with comprehension activities to foster a deeper understanding of narratives.
The transformative initiative spans three counties in Kenya: Kitui, Bungoma, and Kilifi. In Kitui County the project is being implemented in Mwingi Sub County. It encompasses 30 villages, each hosting vibrant camps comprising 15 eager learners aged between 6 and 12 years.
Some young mothers have added volunteerism to the long list of their daily chores. Therefore, armed with a mission to leave behind a positive footprint, they dare the harsh Kitui weather, and traverse the expansive Kanzoka, Kanyunga, Katuva, Kavingasye and Ndiani villages, every so often. 17 target villages in total and they do not stop!
With a profound understanding of the transformative power of literacy, the volunteers have spearheaded reading camps, encouraging children to explore the world of words and ideas and concepts. Learners in Kavingasye and Katuva villages engaged in education sessions and were empowered with new set of knowledge and skills.
In Ndiani village, Judy Mwendwa, a nursery schoolteacher, has fostered education awareness in her community and created an effective learning camp for many learners. Her fellow volunteer in Kanyunga village, Esther Muvengei, has served as a member of the board of management at Isee primary school and as a champion of education in her village volunteerism.
What sets these young mothers apart is not just their sheer numbers or their willingness to volunteer, it is their unwavering commitment to the cause and their innate ability to weave the project’s objectives into the fabric of their community routines. They have breathed life into My Village project, transforming it from a mere initiative into a shared vision that resonates deeply within their neighbourhoods.
Their motivations are as diverse as their backgrounds, yet a common thread of determination runs through their stories. Many of them are juggling between family duties and their personal growth. Nonetheless, they still make time to spread the literacy gospel. For them, this is not a charitable endeavour, it is a calling, a collective responsibility to uplift their communities.
My village project made in roads in Kitui at the beginning of this year, yet the transformation in the villages is undeniable!
“Since my daughter joined the camp my child joined the camp, she has renewed strength and passion for reading. She is always looking forward to more camp times. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for making a difference in our children’s lives,” said a parent.
The children can now access to books and hope for a wholesome education. It is not rare to find some of them herding livestock and challenging each other to write and read some words and phrases, which they scribble on the ground or on sisal leaves along the way. They also take turns as teachers for their peers who struggle to catch up.
Over the course of one year, this visionary program aims to empower young brains through a holistic approach, offering not only essential academic education but also fostering critical life skills, promoting community engagement, and nurturing their creativity. By focusing on these fundamental aspects, My Village Project aspires to leave an indelible mark on the future of these communities, igniting a flame of knowledge, self-discovery, and opportunity in the hearts of its youthful participants.
“I am grateful to My Village Project. The activities we had at the camp like; word recognition games, picture cards, and story booklets, have made a huge difference in my learning. I used to struggle with reading and understanding words, but now I can recognize so many words and even read stories on my own! I can’t wait for the next camp sessions!” noted a learner.
Kitui County being a hardship area, challenges abound. Sometimes the camps fail to capture desired number of learners or the envisioned depth. But the resilience of the volunteer mothers keeps them alive within the project. They have demonstrated that empowerment does not have to be imported, that the power lies within communities, and everyone has a role to play.
Their story serves as a testament to the transformative power of grassroots volunteerism, proving that positive change is within reach when a community unites for a common purpose. As the My Village Project continues to move lessons to the marginalized communities, the young mothers of Kitui inspire us all to take charge of our destinies and be the change we wish to see in this transforming world. We celebrate these young mothers!
We welcome you to volunteer to help a young learner read a book, solve a sum and embrace life skills and values. Contact us for more about this.