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What does COVID-19 mean for young women in Kilifi?

Tewa kenya

Young women are facing increasing challenges in Kilifi due to COVID-19. How can we create opportunities for these young women to thrive after the pandemic?

We spoke with Sussy Mmaitsi, a teacher and mentor from Tewa, and Dr Lucy Gikonyo, an expert in the field of hospitality and tourism in Kenya, about the impact of COVID-19 on young women in Kenya, specifically in Kilifi, and about how we can give them opportunities to thrive in the future.

At WONDER, we work with our local partner, Tewa Training Centre, to empower young women with skills, and give them access to better opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry. Over the years, Tewa has been a rescue for young women, many of whom come from very challenging backgrounds. In Kilifi, where Tewa is based, there is a lot of pressure for young girls to get married and they are often prevented from continuing their education.

How has COVID-19 impacted the lives of Tewa students?

When COVID-19 hit Kenya, the first challenge for many young women studying at Tewa was hunger. “Hunger it not new to these young women, it has always there. But COVID-19 adds another stress to their lives. Many don’t have money for food and are surviving on on light meal a day”, Sussy told us.

Continuing to learn during the pandemic has been also been a challenge for many young women studying at Tewa. For many of Tewa’s students, the price of data is too high to continue their education online, and most don’t have access to a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Although their learning has come to a stop until the school can reopen, Sussy hopes that their students can put the skills they have learned at Tewa to good use during the pandemic.

Despite these challenges, Sussy is positive, and says she would recommend Tewa to girls in Kenya because “Tewa offers personalised and practical skills, and therefore the girls from Tewa often stand out in the hospitality and tourism industry”. The two-year hospitality and entrepreneurship training course at Tewa not only develops young women’s hard skills but also develops their soft skills through mentoring.

Having skills means that young women can diversify and find new ways of earning money, even in difficult times. A few Tewa students have even set up online shops to sell produce and baked goods during the pandemic, earning them some extra money.

Watch the full conversation with Lucy and Sussy

The impact of donations on young women’s lives

Donations to Tewa, particularly in the current climate, can have a huge impact. Tewa needs funds to support current students with emergency financial help and food packages, to provide staff and students with the necessary technology to deliver classes online, and to fund scholarships for the year ahead.

Sussy told us: “it’s important students of Tewa receive scholarships, because education gives them hope, due to it giving them better job opportunities, which in turn improves their standards of living for them and their families”.

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