"All successful life is adaptable, opportunistic, tenacious, interconnected, and fecund. Understand this. Use it. Shape God".
-How we grow together (Octavia Butler)
What does an authentic partnership look like? How can we amplify quiet voices, build regenerative, community-led initiatives and create from a collaborative space of listening deeply to one another? These are questions Amwe is exploring through our partnerships. Amwe Mentor Dr. Karambu always says, no person is helpless or hopless, there are, however, widespread systems of oppression that leave people helpless. When given the right tools, we find that human beings are incredibly resilient. Amwe strives to help give people the basic tools, from there they are empowered to build upon their own inherent strength and wisdom.
AMWE + NALEDI
Amwe's primary partnership is with our sister community Naledi Initiatives in Kenya. Naledi Initiatives is a Nonprofit Organization founded by Robert Murithi in collaboration with the Institute of Emerging Visionaries. Since 2018, Naledi has been serving vulnerable communities at the grassroots level through bringing marginalized, rural communities of women and girls together to address women's health and social justice head-on. Naledi’s approach to community empowerment is based on the idea of the three-legged African traditional cooking place, the “Jiko”. The Jiko needs all three legs to stand. Naledi mirrors the structure of the Jiko by leading regenerative, community-led initiatives to enable individuals to strengthen capacities for inner peace, personal health, and socio-economic growth. Naledi sees these three elements as essential to holistically address poverty in the community.
WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMS
Naledi works within local communities of women and girls in Tharaka, Kenya to break the cycle of poverty that is an inherent aspect of the countries cultural standards.
Most women living in Tharakas are restricted to upholding all household duties without an opportunity to generate their own income. Women do not have the collateral to get loans from regulated financial institutions. Young girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and violence, resulting in high rates of unwanted teen pregnancy. Women are the primary laborers, expected to build homes, cook, gather water and firewood. Due to lack of access to education, financial resources, higher cancer rates, and autonomy- they face the hardships of a traditional patriarchal society. Naledi has collaborated to create community-led programs addressing menstrual health, education, self-sufficiency, economic growth, financial literacy, table banking, entrepreneurship education, basket weaving, gardening, and trauma healing. Currently, Naledi is running menstrual health education for young women in the local schools, hosting trauma healing circles, and providing a training program for women to build self-generating income through basket weaving and home gardening. Naledi translates to little star, aiming to restore hope and dignity for a bright future for women and girls.
FREE MEDICAL SCREENING CAMPS
Naledi serves rural communities in Tharaka and surrounding areas that due to poverty and location, lack access to basic health screenings. Cancer rates in Tharka are the highest in the region, specifically with staggering cases of cervical, diabetes, and breast cancer. With funds from their rides, Naledi organizes volunteer doctors, gynecologists, and nurses to serve the community. Over the past year, they have hosted several free medical and cancer screening camps, bringing together volunteer doctors and as many as 2,000 individuals per day, representing 40 different African tribes to provide screenings for diseases that, when detected early, can be treatable.
For the past 3 years, Naledi has been using physical movement to gather community funds and awareness around the unusually high rates of cancer affecting the Tharaka community. Naledi gathers Kenyan ride teams of professional and novice bikers alike to journey up to 70 miles a day bike touring from Tharaka to Nanyuki to raise funds for their community. Cyclathons have served as the primary way Naledi has been able to successfully raise funds to host the free medical screening camps mentioned above. Brillant.
BE BROTHERS PROGRAM
In 2014, President Obama started the USA national initiative, My Brother's Keeper. Naledi Initiative adopted this program in Kenya. The goal is to give young men the tools and resources they need to succeed in life. Naledi provides young men with mentorship and safe spaces to discuss and detangle some of the cultural pressure around the maltreatment of women. Naledi believes that men are a huge part of the conversation for women's equality.