A Vision for KenyaWritten by admin on December 25, 2011
by Nikole Lim
Today I had the opportunity to sit in on a Statistics class at Kenya Polytechnic University. The instructor, a local pastor with a Doctorate’s in Counseling Psychology, allowed me to facilitate a class discussion. He had a class of ten students, all who come from various walks of life. The majority of the students were women, some were mothers, other were young students fresh out of Secondary School. But few have a story like Eunice’s, which provides an interesting dynamic to the classroom.
Eunice adds so much vibrancy to the class by asking tough questions, encouraging discussion, and engaging with her classmates on topics that matter. From the social-psychological issues associated with the stigma of HIV/AIDS, to the cultural barriers against family planning practices, Eunice always has something personal to contribute based on her life story.
I asked the class to discuss the issues surrounding the girl-child in slum communities. Many brought up the fact that the physical space in the slums are extremely packed. There’s absolutely no room for privacy and no security provided for girls. Bathrooms are located outside the cramped quarters which makes girls vulnerable to rape. Young girls are exposed to slum-life at an early age which includes acts of desperation. Due to the limited opportunities for those in dire poverty, women are forced into prostitution to feed their families. This type of work is common. Women often feel that their bodies are the only thing of worth in their masculine society. There is little vision, little purpose, little hope for opportunities and transformation.
As we were discussion solutions, the class mentioned that perhaps introducing the counseling aspect prior to skills training will be beneficial to assessing their mental health. While education is crucial, offering opportunities of hope is of even more value in the first phases. This way, women will be able to envision their full potential in order to best choose their desired profession. Prostitution will no longer be the alternative. Poverty will no longer be the majority. Oppression will no longer be accepted as the cultural norm.
New mindsets will be introduced: Opportunities will thrive. Transformation will be attainable. Restoration will transpire in mind, body, and soul. That is our vision.
I was so encouraged during my discussion with these ten students. They had so many aspirations for the future of Kenya. They hope to be agents of change in their communities as they’re combating the many issues of HIV/AIDS, rape, trauma, and abuse far too common in their communities.
Eunice only has a few more months left before she graduates with a diploma in Counseling Psychology.
Kenya Polytechnic University is in the process of offering the Counseling Psychology Degree program by 2012 and Eunice hopes to jump right in after she graduates with a diploma. She asked the instructor, “When will we know when the degree program is approved by the government?” I’m always encouraged by her vitality. We’re both hoping the word will be out by the time their exams come in November.
Eunice is really looking forward to moving further in her education to pursue her life’s mission of counseling survivors of sexual abuse so that their stories will speak restoration as well.