Meet a graduating scholar: Congratulations Rose Aoko Omollo, Kenya

a35ba66f-869c-4410-9869-d4434d3888f5“To me the sky is not the limit, when you are surrounded by people who are thirsty for education… Everything is possible – you only need to believe in yourself and go after those goals.”

Meet Rose Omollo, who was awarded a Watipa scholarship in 2016 and is now graduating with a Bachelor of Community Health and Development from the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Kenya. We are proud of you Rose – congratulations! May you continue to achieve your dreams and have a positive impact in your community.

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Rose Omollo, Watipa Scholar 2016 and graduate

The Watipa scholarship has impacted my life a great deal. I am proud to have come this far in my education. Through the mentorship programme that Watipa offers to us scholars, I have also been able to help others in my community.

Now that I am doing my last semester, I believe that I have been equipped with the authority and ability to deploy and change the community and myself as an individual. Like me before them, I hope to see girls in my community completing their education and advancing to higher levels. Continue reading “Meet a graduating scholar: Congratulations Rose Aoko Omollo, Kenya”

Meet a graduating scholar: Congratulations Julia Brenda Omondi, Kenya

133e2184-57a1-4c04-9281-449671678a37“Having a degree in Psychology will open a new window of job opportunities for me of which I am ready and willing to take advantage of.”

Meet Julia Omondi, a 2016 Watipa scholar, who is graduating this year with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Counselling) from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Congratulations Julia – your hard work has paid off!

I am very proud of how far I have come. Looking back, I started out without a steady means of getting school fees, and my grades were really affected. However, since Watipa started supporting me by paying my school fees, my grades improved. In addition, being a Watipa scholar has given me the opportunity to be a part of an international group of scholars like myself, which is always a motivation. I find myself challenged by how much other young people in different countries are doing for their communities. Plus, some conversations we have on different topics such as climate change and human sexuality also make you see things in a different light. This enables one to learn. Seeing other scholars graduate has also been motivating. Being a part of the Watipa committee that makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees has been amazing.

Sometimes, standing before the young women I reach out to, I cannot ignore the fact that some, if not most of them, view me as a role model. So sometimes I share my personal story with them. For example, in August this year I was giving a group of sponsored students a talk. The high school students had not been performing well and I used my experience with Watipa to encourage them. I shared with them that there should be gradual improvement in their grades now that they no-longer endure the burden of unpaid school fees. I used myself as an example. I am proud of the opportunities I have received to support adolescent girls and young women in the community. Continue reading “Meet a graduating scholar: Congratulations Julia Brenda Omondi, Kenya”

A different type of ball: Reducing teenage pregnancies through soccer

IMG_8212One of the best things about being a lady in Uganda is that you are the in charge of a home; as an adolescent you are trained to have a high sense of responsibility and critical decision making skills. A typical day is to wake up and prepare for school, and prepare the little ones (young brothers, sisters, cousins) as well. After school is a routine of house chores and home work.

Raising a lady in Africa also includes tackling gender biases that are seconded by the myths and misconceptions surrounding areas of sexual reproductive health. Take for instance that a girl cannot shake hands with other people during menstruation or that a girl cannot ride a bike or play soccer because it may affect her virginity.

Having spent time at three Grassroot Soccer centers over the last few weeks, my view has completely widened on how sport and gender can bring about gender equity and influence mindsets to reduce the transmission rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted illnesses as well as unintended pregnancies amongst adolescent girls and young women. Continue reading “A different type of ball: Reducing teenage pregnancies through soccer”

Experiential learning: more than words

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We have just finished a brilliant fortnight working with Grassroot Soccer, an organisation that aims to harness the power of soccer to connect young people to the information, health services and mentors they need to thrive. The workshops took place in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe to support the expansion of the focus of Grassroots Soccer to include a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and adolescent health and well-being.

Sport can be a powerful tool for personal development, and also tackling some wider social and interpersonal concerns for young people.  Continue reading “Experiential learning: more than words”

Link Up: Positive health, positive change

link-up-uganda4247Link Up (2013-2016) was a pioneering project that improved the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of almost 940,000 young people who are most affected by HIV in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda. I was really proud to be a part of the team, as a technical advisor, pretty much from start to finish. This week, a Supplement of the Journal of Adolescent Health was published that presents some of the findings from the project and its impact, and is well worth a read for a quiet January evening!  Continue reading “Link Up: Positive health, positive change”