Hello, everyone! I'm Liu Kehan, also known as Dora, a 12th-grade student at Shenzhen Bayside International School. My journey with Kenya began in the summer of 2016 when I embarked on a wildlife conservation project with China House (Global Citizen Action). Little did I know that seven years later, I would return to Kenya with China House and try to support a group of Kenyan women.
My interest in global social issues ignited during the seventh grade, possibly sparked by my fascination with African wildlife. In Kenya, I participated in a project that transformed confiscated wire snares from poachers into animal sculptures to raise funds for wildlife conservation. Fast forward to my senior year, and I eagerly signed up for China House's project aimed at empowering Kenyan women.
My initial belief was that traditional norms and societal beliefs were the primary barriers to Kenyan women's advancement. However, on arriving in Nairobi, I realized that they faced substantial, objective obstacles, including limited access to loans, challenges in starting businesses, and inadequate education.
Our visit to WYCDO (Women and Youth Community Development Organization) was eye-opening. I conducted one-on-one conversations with 12 women, delving into their lives, professions, and challenges. These women shared stories of struggling businesses, accidental fires destroying their ventures, and the joy of affording milk for their children. Their resilience and optimism were remarkable.
One crucial aspect of their empowerment was the "table banking" system, where women could deposit and borrow money at lower interest rates than offered by banks. This system promoted savings, expanded social networks, and provided resources for business development.
In addition to poverty, Kenyan women faced threats like female genital mutilation (FGM). Nanana Rescue Center provided shelter and education for girls escaping early marriage or FGM. Playing soccer with these girls and discussing Latin dance with them revealed their strength and determination.
The most common question Kenyan women asked was, "How can you help us? Can you give us money?" I learned that effective charity involves more than money; it's about long-term impact. Sponsoring schools for girls, increasing funds available for women to borrow, and tracking fund usage proved to be valuable strategies.
My interactions with these women left a lasting impression, and their stories became etched in our articles. Their determination, innocence, and optimism are imprinted in my memory. I hope to see them again, hearing about their school experiences, growing teaching staff, and new businesses.
During my second visit to Kenya, I created a video to capture their sincerity and friendliness. In the future, I aim to continue sharing their stories, encouraging more Chinese youth to listen, learn, and spread the untold stories of these incredible women.
In Kenya, I found a world different from my own, but in our souls intertwining, I discovered the universal language of hope and resilience. May their stories transcend borders and inspire change far beyond Kenya and Africa.