Stratizen wins Cov-Aid student engagement award
Catherine Mumo, a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies student at Strathmore, won the COV-AID Student Engagement Award for her initiative, Nawiri Sist3rs. Part of the Talloires Network – Open Society University Network Education Partnership, the COV-AID Student Engagement Award is a pilot grant programme to publicly recognize and support undergraduate students who are currently engaged in their local communities in ways that contribute to more equal and more inclusive societies.
The 23-year-old has received previous accolades and held positions that demonstrate her passion for serving and empowering young people: Former Vice President of Strathmore Student Council, a UNICEF Kenya Youth Advocate, and a SheCan University Kotex Award recipient.
She joined the list of 10 winners, who came from Uganda, Bangladesh, India, US, Brazil and Vietnam. The winners received an award of 2,500 USD and will appear in an upcoming COV-AID webinar.
Why did you found Nawiri?
Nawiri Sist3rs was founded to address period stigma among girls, from primary schools to high schools, who do not have access to menstrual health and hygiene materials or information. We do this through offering mentorship and menstrual health materials.
The slogan for the initiative is to empower the girls for a better tomorrow. We believe that youth can help other youth and children by giving their time and a little money. It is possible to make an impact in the life of one girl, helping her believe she can and providing her with the avenue to chase her dreams. A large number of girls in low-income homes do not attend school because of their periods. This leads to some engaging in sexual activities in exchange for sanitary towels.
What impact have you had so far with the project?
So far, the project has begun with Madaraka Primary which is walking distance from the University. We have been able to provide mentorship and sanitary towels to all the girls in need between classes 3 and 8 and had two mentorship sessions with girls from classes 6 to 8. This is the initiative’s pilot programme that began this year. We (Rachel Otieno and Shannon Mujera and myself), have supported 230 girls so far. We’ve managed to do this in partnership with the Community Service Centre (Michael Babu has been our advisor), Student Council, Strathmore University Media Group, Debate Club, KPMG, Kotex and Heels for Pads. Female Stratizens have also joined in the project as mentors.
What impact has Covid-19 had on the project?
The directive by the government to close all schools and the social distancing measures put in place to curb the pandemic have made it difficult for us to meet with the girls and provide sanitary towels for them. This means it is harder for them to maintain good menstrual health and hygiene without provision of menstrual hygiene materials.
What plans do you have in terms of the funding that you received?
With the pandemic, we have had to halt the programme. However, we are keen to support the girls as well as their families, through this period. This led us to start a drive to fundraise for relief for families in dire need as well as to provide pads for the girls. With this in mind, we applied for the Cov-Aid Student Engagement Award and we were happy to be one of the recipients of the grant. We plan to use this money to help Madaraka Primary girls and their families.
We wish Catherine Mumo, Rachel Otieno, and Shannon Mujera (core team of this initiative) all the best as they #staysafe and #keeplearning and keep the #StrathmorePromise.
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