Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

When you ask Jane why she decided to study electrical work, her response is simple: “Because I liked it.”

She grins. Then she adds, “I wanted to help people. And I wanted to show other girls that there is no course they can’t take.”

Combating Youth Unemployment in Kenya

Where Jane lives in Kikuyu, Kiambu County, Kenya, a rural community known for its sprawling coffee farms, it’s unusual to see a young woman entering such a traditionally male-dominated industry. In fact, youth unemployment in Kenya is high regardless of gender.

According to the country’s 2018 Basic Labour Force Report, more than 11 percent of youth ages 15-34 in the country are unemployed, putting them at risk of poverty and homelessness.

The dangers are even greater for unemployed or low-income girls in this age group, who face higher rates of teen pregnancy and gender-based violence than their peers.

But Jane has the confidence of a girl who knows she’s going places, thanks in part to ChildFund’s job training programs, which focus on the specific needs of young adults.

Jane, 22, is training to be an electrician as part of ChildFund’s Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County, Kenya.
Jane, 22, is training to be an electrician as part of ChildFund’s Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County, Kenya.

Our Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County connects at-risk youth to job training programs that will give them a practical means of earning an income for life.

We train youth as electricians, carpenters, hairdressers, tailors, auto mechanics and more, providing full or partial scholarships to students who need them most.

When the students graduate from their training, ChildFund also supports them with startup tools so they can be prepared to find work or launch their own businesses and begin making money right away, helping to reduce youth unemployment in Kenya.

Beth, 21, shown here braiding a customer’s hair, received a ChildFund scholarship to study hairdressing, as well as startup capital to open a salon.
Beth, 21, shown here braiding a customer’s hair, received a
ChildFund scholarship to study hairdressing, as well as startup capital to open a salon.
Jane, 22, is training to be an electrician as part of ChildFund’s Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County, Kenya.
Jane, 22, is training to be an electrician as part of ChildFund’s Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County, Kenya.

“If I had not received this training, I would have probably been at home farming. But farming, for now, isn’t a good source of income,” says Jane. “In this area, even some who have completed university have no job. But if you take vocational training, it is hard to fail in getting one.”

Jane is currently in the final stage of her studies, after which she plans to seek an electrical apprenticeship and use her skills to light up homes, schools and everything in between for disadvantaged people in her community.

You can be a source of light, too! Sponsor a child in Kenya today.

It was around midnight when Judite began feeling a pain that she had never felt before. The mother of six was heavily pregnant with her youngest child Marcelo, but this feeling was different to any labour pains she had experienced previously.

“It was the worst pain,” Judite says. “I was frightened.”

She asked for Odete, the Community Health Volunteer trained by ChildFund in her village, who immediately called an ambulance to take her to the nearest health centre, an hour and half away by car through windy, dirt roads.

Judite (pictured above with Marcelo and daughter Zebifania, age 3) gave birth to Marcelo in the ambulance with the help of a midwife but she had lost a lot of blood.

It was a terrifying experience but at least she had been in the hands of a professional.

In Judite’s village, in the remote mountainous areas of Lautem municipality in Timor-Leste, a lack of health facilities, doctors, nurses and midwives means when medical emergencies occur they can be fatal. Women in Judite’s village traditionally give birth in their homes with the assistance of a “daya”, a birth attendant who is experienced in delivering babies but who does not have a medical background or formal training in midwifery.

Judite gave birth to five of her children at home with the help of a daya. But with Marcelo, she wanted a doctor or midwife present. She had learnt from her previous experiences and from Odete that giving birth at home without a trained medical professional was unsafe and could put her life and her baby’s life at risk, especially when complications occurred.