Empowering Vulnerable Youth: The RISE Project’s Journey Towards Inclusion, Health, and Education

by Amref Health Africa

There is a traditional African proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but does this translate to vulnerable children or those in conflict with the law?

In Kenya’s evolving legal framework, considerable efforts have been made to protect the rights of all citizens. The Office of the Director of Publications (ODPP) recently stated in A Prosecutor’s Guide to Children in the Criminal Justice System that there have been troubling instances where the rights of children in conflict with the law have been violated.

This gap between policy and practice, as highlighted by the ODPP’s observations, contrasts the realities faced by children within Kenya’s borstal institutions, underlining a pressing need for systemic changes to ensure the dignity and rights of every child are fully respected. According to the United Nations, in Kenya’s two borstal institutions, Shimo La Tewa and Shikusa Borstals, boys are given one uniform upon admission to the borstal. Items such as soap, towels, toothpaste, and underwear are not provided. Additionally, children from many different backgrounds and diverse ages are mixed, where serious offenders could negatively influence other children.

Inspired by the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” Amref Health Africa in Kenya believes that this collective responsibility extends to vulnerable children and those in conflict with the law. With this in mind, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation conceptualised and financed the RISE project. Working in tandem with the Directorate of Children’s Services, Tree of Life Kenya, and the Ministry of Health, we aim to elevate the lives of young individuals aged 7-24 across the country.

A Tri-Fold Mission

To help children in conflict with the law, the RISE program targets three main areas:

Enhancing Educational Support: the RISE program boosts educational services for vulnerable youth through enhancing government support.

Vocational Traning and Economic Opportunities: harnessing the power of self-reliance, RISE offers vocational training and economic opportunities through public-private partnerships for those in conflict with the law.

Health and Life Skills Improvement: training healthcare workers, providing psycho-social support, and disseminating health education addresses the comprehensive well-being of the youth, particularly those in conflict with the law.

Bridging these targeted efforts in education, vocational training, and health with practical assistance, the RISE project’s distribution of dignity packs demonstrates a holistic approach to support and rehabilitation, offering tangible evidence of care and respect for the youth it serves.

Statistics at a Glance

  • Nairobi County: 1,000 Bags (500 Boys, 500 Girls) reaching multiple institutions and ensuring 166 boys and 220 girls received the much-needed support.
  • Mombasa County: 1,000 Packs (500 Boys, 500 Girls) meticulously planned to cater to various institutions, with a notable emphasis on Shimo La Tewa and Likoni.
  • Kiambu County: 1,000 Bags (500 Boys, 500 Girls), with special attention to the Kiringiti Girls, Kamae Girls, and YCTC, showcasing the project’s commitment to reaching as many vulnerable youths as possible.

These packs, filled with essential hygiene and personal care items, play a pivotal role in uplifting the spirits of vulnerable youth and those in conflict with the law. Distributed across Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kiambu counties, the dignity packs have reached numerous schools and remand homes. These packs are more than just a collection of items; they symbolise respect, support, and a step towards normalisation in the lives of youth who have felt marginalised. By addressing basic needs, the project instils a sense of dignity and self-esteem in its recipients, which is important for rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

The RISE project’s achievements testify to the power of collaboration and targeted intervention. Through its comprehensive approach, the initiative has reached thousands, equipping them with life skills and reproductive health knowledge. Additionally, the project has advocated and trained numerous healthcare workers and caregivers, fostering a supportive ecosystem for vulnerable youth.

As we reflect on the progress made, it’s clear that the RISE project is not just about providing immediate support but about laying the groundwork for sustainable growth and inclusion. The partnership between Amref Health Africa in Kenya, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the Ministry of Health exemplifies how collective efforts can significantly enhance the prospects of vulnerable children and youth, guiding them towards a path of empowerment and success.

By: Halima Wairima Sabwa 

Communications Assistant, Amref Health Africa in Kenya. 

You may also like

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More