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The Story

Teresa, Karen, Linda, Esnas and Nabtutu are the fabulous five. A group of five friends I  met while visiting a small town of Bungoma in western Kenya in December of 2008. They seemed to appear out of nowhere with their shy smiles and contagious laughter. I couldn’t help but to engage them in conversation. As I spoke with them I was captivated by their joy and their innocence.

When I look at the picture of my fabulous five, feelings of concern and fear creep into my heart. With rising statistics that show a rise in teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and sexual violence, I begin to wonder if the fabulous five will face any of these challenges.  Here are a few statistics depicting the challenges affecting young women in Kenya today:

  •   Young women aged 15-24 are almost 3 times likely to contract HIV in comparison to their male counterparts.*
  •   8,000 to 10,000 girls drop out of school every year because of pregnancy. ^
  •   In a nationwide study of young women aged 12 to 24 years, 25% said they lost  their virginity because of force. #

As I began to take a serious look into the statistics I developed a sense of hopelessness, until it dawned on me that I have what it takes to make a difference. I decided to use the skills I have learned to serve. Soon after I came up with the idea of The Yayaz Project. Yaya, taken from the Bukusu word for sister seemed appropriate because sisterhood  is the foundation for this project. A sister looks out for the wellbeing of her sisters and gives freely to her sisters for their edification.

I invite you to join us on this journey.
-Khatundi

*National HIV Prevalence in Kenya: The National AIDS Control Council and the National AIDS and STD Control Programme Report.2007.
^Status of Women and Girls in Kenya: Urgent Need to Uphold Human Rights.Centre for Rights Education and Awareness Report. Nairobi.2007.
#Facts and Figures about Girls and Young Women in Kenya. Joint UN Programme on HIV and AIDS in Kenya.2006.