Photo by Lightup Impact and Kerio Rights Organisation (Founder Tour 2022)

Ohiwa Jeniffer, March 2022

Founder Tour begins

The first stop for the Founder Tour was in Eldoret town at Kerio Rights Organisation offices in Kapseret, where the team met for a brief introduction and planning of the activities for the Founder Tour. Kerio Rights Organisation is among the seven organisations that earned the Lightup Impact Badge and were shortlisted to take part in a joint crowdfunding campaign and in the Founder Tour Program. The aim of the tour is to initiate collaborative research and impactful projects between Lightup Impact and member organisations with the donations that were jointly raised during the crowdfunding campaign.

 

 

 

 

First meeting between Kerio Rights Organisation and Lightup Impact team in Kapseret

Introduction

Kerio Rights organisation is a woman-led community based-organisation based in Kapseret, Uasin Gishu County in Kenya. It was founded and registered by a network of women volunteers in the year 2010 to promote human rights and access to quality sexual reproductive health care services among girls , women, youth, LGBTQI community and other marginalized and under served communities. The organisation seeks to address women’s rights and helath-related issues in Kapseret through education, research, capacty building and advocacy.
Kerio Rights team is led by the Director and Founder Caroline Rotich together with the Programs Officer Fred Siele. They are a team of focused, self driven individuals who work together to be the change they desire to see; through networking they create partnerships and collaborations with the knowledge that only as a team can so much be accomplished. Their hunger for change is also evident in their own team work and synergy as an organisation.
Caroline Rotich training women champions on sexual reproductive health
The Director and Programs Officer working on a GBV project

Activities during the Founder Tour

Kerio Rights Organisation is aware of the importance of working with the government especially at a local level. Through collaboration with Uasin Gishu County government, village elders, community leaders, religious leaders and the chiefs allows them to be part of relevant decision making processes, especially through different technical working groups they are part of.  A technical working group is a committee that brings together stakeholders working on issues that affect their communities, discuss and identify gaps, and suggest  solutions. The Lightup Impact team was privileged to join Kerio Rights Organisation in their technical working group at the County Commissioner’s office which was being chaired by the National Aids Control Council (NACC) Team. Here the team met different stakeholders who are working on HIV and AIDS in Uasin Gishu County and got an opportunity to meet the NACC North Rift Regional Coordinator Nickson Chepkwony who gave them a brief of what his office does in regards to HIV and AIDS and gender based violence.

Technical working group meeting on HIV and AIDS at the County Commissioners Office, Uasin Gishu County
During International Women’s Day adolescent girls engaging with Joseph Binayo from Pamoja Mtaani Initiative
Caroling engaging girls from the community during International Women's Day
Focus group discussion with survivors of gender based violence in Langas, Eldoret

International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2022, Kerio Rights Organisation together with Lightup Impact and other partners organised an event in Turbo Sub-County to mark the day. The event included a march  to show solidarity in support of women and girls under the theme ‘BreakTheBias’, where the whole community joined in and afterwards congregated in the market place for a short celebration. The day concluded with the distribution of sanitary pads to the women and girls and magazines on sexual reproductive health and rights.

The march through Turbo Market in celebration of International Women’s Day 2022 in Turbo, Eldoret
The march in solidarity with women and girls under the theme #BreakTheBias

Collaborative Research on Gender Based Violence

Lightup Impact carried out research in partnership with Kerio Rights Organisation on the implications – causes, access/barriers to support and services, solutions and needs of gender-based violence in Kapseret, Eldoret through focus group discussions with community female champions, opinion leaders, key stakeholders and gender based violence survivors.

Focus Group Discussion with Community Champions

To collect data for the research the team brought together ten community champions for a focus group discussion on the implications of gender based violence – causes, forms, gender roles, and solutions in Kapseret Sub-County. The Community champions are women rights defenders who ensure that sexual and gender based violence cases are reported to the law enforcers. They  are volunteers who range from people living with disabilities, village elders, counsellors and professionals in different areas. From the discussion it was clear that the champions value the role that Kerio Rights Organisation plays in the community.  The facility in Kapseret is a safe place for women’s voices to be heard, for women to be trained, equipped with knowledge and empowered on women rights. Through the organisation the community in Kapseret is  given a platform to access the right information, report and address gender based violence cases “Kerio View Rights Organisation is a refuge, hope and a place to address issues and find solutions”, these were the words of community female champions during the focus group discussion. One special aspect for the women champions is that Kerio Rights Organisation has involved people with disabilities to the discussion, being amongst the most vulnerable in the society and often victims of violence. Thanks to Caroline and her team, people with disabilities are not left behind in the fight against gender based violence.

Focus group discussion with female community champions
Kerio Rights Organisation Medical Clinic in Kapseret which provides medical services and cervical cancer screening in partnerships with the local health facilities during Cancer Awareness Month

Focus group discussion on assessing knowledge on HPV and Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in both incidence and cancer-related mortality among women. Lightup Impact wanted to investigate the causes of low uptake of cervical cancer screening in a high risk population of HIV positive women in the Langas and Kapsaret Ward. As a research activity nine participants shared their experiences through a focus group discussion. The aim of the research was to assess the basic knowledge on HPV/Cervical Cancer, men’s influence and access to testing services. 

It was an open discussion where the participants shared how they were aware that cancer is not a deadly disease if diagnosed at an early stage. Out of the nine participants, eight confirmed that they had previously been screened in the last six years. The participants stated that they were somehow informed about cervical cancer screening but needed to be more empowered,  especially financially to access cervical cancer screening services as well as potential follow-ups and referrals. Challenges such as lack of finances played a key role for most women who were not able to access the services as they did not have permanent jobs. In addition,  often the screening would take place in facilities too far from their homes. Some solutions they proposed were that the government should organize more frequent screenings and awareness campaigns at a local level in the communities, and  not only during Cancer awareness day.

Focus group discussion with gender based violence survivors

The third research that was conducted during the Founder Tour was a focus group discussion with gender based violence survivors in Langas Ward, Kapseret with nine participants. The aim of the research was to explore the implications of gender-based violence in the region,  by understanding the forms and causes, access to services, reporting and solutions of gender based violence to contribute to the critical discussion of reducing gender-based violence in Kenya. 

During the discussion the women shared their personal stories where they emphasised how alcohol, drugs, poverty and culture have played a key role to the cases of GBV. They also pointed out that although cases were reported to the chiefs and village elders, there were high chances of corruption and the victims were never given justice. The question of who to tell is also a big issue as survivors don’t feel like they have people who listen and understand, making it hard sometimes for people to openly share experiences of gender based violence.

Focus group discussion with survivors of gender based violence in Langas, Eldoret

Intergenerational knowledge transfer on sexual reproductive health

One unique activity that Kerio Rights organised that captured our attention was an  intergenerational knowledge transfer on adolescent SRHR, which brought together 12 girls between the ages of 13-20 years from  Kapseret and Langas Ward. This was a platform where an elderly respected woman named Gogo aged 89 years old from the community was invited to talk and share with the girls her experience from how things were different in her times and how they can use that knowledge to live a better life today. During the question and answer session, what came out is that the girls had friends who were raped, affected by sexually transmitted diseases or discriminated because of their sexual orientation. These girls often do not know who to talk to and where to go. Kerio Rights Organisation offers support by giving out  the right information, direction and support to these young girls that face such challenges.

Caroline engaging the adolescent girls in the intergenerational forum
Gogo sharing her experience with the girls
Adolescent girls following keenly as Gogo shares stories about her youthful life

Community sensitization forum on gender based violence with opinion leaders

The final activity during the founder tour was a community sensitization forum on gender based violence with opinion leaders in Langas Ward. The opinion leaders present were village elders, religious leaders and community leaders – nine in total. The opinion leaders were sensitized on gender based violence; informed  about the different forms and causes of gender based violence and how to deal with such cases in their community. They were open to learning and to be trained on how to handle these cases which was not always easy for them. The facilitator mentioned that they should not only be sensitized but empowered as that is key.

George Karanja from Q-Initiative CBO sensitising the opinion leaders on GBV
Opinion leaders during the GBV sensitisation forum

Conclusion

Lightup Impact is happy to have collaborated and partnered with Kerio Rights Organisation during the three weeks founder tour.  It was a great experience being involved in the activities offered by their partners. We learnt so much in regards to the needs of the Kapseret community and Uasin Gishu County as a whole. We wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the fundraiser;  through the donation of 500 euros, Kerio Rights Organisation was able to sensitize 10 women’s rights defenders and champions at the community level to ensure that sexual and gender based violence cases are reported to the law enforcers. In addition, they sensitized 10 community gatekeepers within the community on sexual and gender based violence response to support and act as enablers to survivors in accessing justice. The final activity that was supported by the fundraiser was the mentorship and support of 12 adolescents and young women through organized intergenerational knowledge transfer from an elderly respected woman of the community. The passion and commitment that Kerio Rights Organisation has for the Kapseret Community is very evident and with the right support we are sure that they can scale their impact to reach more women and girls in their community. Their goal is to achieve an empowered and healthy society.

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