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Young woman who is devoting her life to fighting for the poor

Food and clothing distribution in Kibra.

Firdowsa Ali Omar is currently a Financial Economics student at Strathmore University.

I first met her in high school and, from my first interaction with her, I could tell that she was more than she appeared to be. In high school, Firdowsa quickly ascended to leadership and, in her third year, was elected as the head girl.

All through and even after joining the Students’ Council, Firdowsa consistently maintained top position in class. When she joined Strathmore University, she enrolled for the Community Outreach Programme.

She often likes to say that “community service is my offering to God for the gift of life”.

In one of the visits to Kibera to distribute food and clothing to poor families, Firdowsa briefly interacted with teenage girls who narrated how they suffered when they experienced their periods. They were unable to leave the house, participate in their chores or go to school because they lacked sanitary towels. Firdowsa immediately formed a group known as Waridi with a few of her friends.

I often tease Firdowsa that, if it wasn’t for her incessant nagging, I wouldn’t have joined Waridi.

The mission was to raise funds to buy sanitary towels. As time went by, Waridi’s mission expanded; we also embarked on teaching both young boys and girls on menstrual health. In the schools that we visited, we also took time to talk to the girls about life generally, such as education, their sexuality and allowing them an opportunity to talk about what affects them.

We also included boys in our chats, acknowledging that they also have challenges unique to them. Unfortunately, this stopped when the government stopped gatherings to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Firdowsa suggested that we conduct our monthly distributions door-to-door rather than have the girls converge in a room.

Now that controlled gatherings are allowed, we have restarted the conversations, but only with a limited number of girls. This takes place every week.

Kevin Maina, 20, is a communication and media student at Kenyatta University.

This article was first published in the Nation, on Wednesday, 7th October, 2020.