Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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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.”

This is how we’re sparking new employment opportunities for youth in Kenya.

How many young people are unemployed in Kenya?

Where Jane lives in 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 aged 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.

How are we reducing unemployment in Kenya?

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.

Become a vehicle of change and help reduce unemployment in Kenya

You can become a vehicle of change and help us reduce unemployment in Kenya. There’s a few ways you can help change lives:

  • Sponsor a child in Kenya: Child sponsorship is an effective strategy that provides a child and their family with access to funding, training and programs that will help improve the child’s future opportunities. 
  • Make a donation: When you donate to us, we’ll allocate your donation to make the most impact across our projects. 

It only takes one person to change the life of a child.

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.

This is an account of the frightening reality of giving birth in a remote village in Timor-Leste. 

Giving birth in the back of an ambulance

“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.

A lack of doctors and nurses means medical emergencies could be fatal

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.

Giving birth at home without a trained healthcare professional is unsafe

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.

Community volunteers are helping to save the lives of mothers and their babies

Apolonia, a midwife at Lautem health centre, where Judite was cared for after giving birth to Marcelo, says Community Health Volunteers like Odete are helping to save the lives of mothers and their babies. They are critical in ensuring information about maternal and child health is passed on to families in remote and rural communities that have no or limited healthcare.

Community Health Volunteers run workshops and training sessions for families to teach them about safe ways to give birth, and how to prevent, identify and treat child malnutrition and common childhood illnesses. This project is supported by the Australian Aid program.

Community volunteers can identify malnutrition before it’s too late

Today, Marcelo is 19-months-old. Judite is hopeful about her son’s future, and she is continuing to learn more about child health from Odete and the workshops supported by ChildFund in her community.

Odete has been monitoring Marcelo’s growth since he was born, and recently discovered that he was at risk of becoming malnourished. She encouraged Judite to attend the nutrition workshops in their village.

“I am happy to join this activity because I have learnt how to prepare nutritious food for my children,” Judite says.

Donate now to help improve maternal and child health in Timor-Leste

It only takes one person to change a life. 

Since ChildFund’s maternal and child health program began in Timor-Leste, we’ve helped hundreds of women by ensuring they attend regular health check-ups and give birth in safe conditions. 

We’ve made progress, but there are many more villages where women and their children are in urgent need of support. 

Your donation can mean the difference between bringing new life into the world, and a life ending too soon. You have the power to change the life of a mother and her child. Donate now.