Meet Lydia Matioli, Program Manager

Lydia became a Freely in Hope scholar in 2015. Growing up in Kibera, East Africa’s largest slum, she saw the prevalence of sexual violence and wanted to do something about it after her best friend was raped. Inspired by her audacious vision, Freely in Hope designed its Fellowship Program where she could receive funding to design a curriculum, Eneza, that teaches high school students on sexual violence prevention. After she graduated, Freely in Hope hired her to run this curriculum in Kibera’s high schools full-time. In 2019, she was promoted to Program Manager—supporting the development, strategy, and growth of all of our programs in Kenya.

What do you value most about your work as Program Manager?
What I value most about my role is the opportunity to listen to different voices from the program staff, scholars, and the communities we serve at the grassroot level. Listening to the community helps me understand what their needs and ideas are so that I can design and implement programs that propel our vision of ending sexual violence.

What is the biggest challenge you grew through this year? 
The biggest challenge I grew through this year was SELF DOUBT. Growing up in an environment where you are constantly reminded that you are not enough gets to your head to a point where imposter syndrome becomes your comfort zone. When I was promoted to program manager, I felt that I was not cut out for that role and therefore would not deliver as expected. One year down the line and I am confidently living out this role, thanks to the support and affirmations that I received from the FIH team.

What was an outstanding achievement that you are particularly proud of?
One of my biggest dreams was seeing our survivor leaders take up spaces that they once thought would be impossible to be in. In 2019, I was very intentional to ensure that I stayed in the background so that our survivor-leaders could be in the spotlight. They had opportunities to plan, coordinate, and lead our biggest event of the year, International Day of the Girl, with 300 students! I was so proud of how they owned the event. They led from their strengths in a way that made this year’s event the most beautiful one we’ve had!

What is unique about working with Freely in Hope?
What makes Freely in Hope unique is the fact that they focus on raising up the least expected people in the society—the ones who are considered weak, poor, and total failures. They believe in their dreams—giving them a platform to learn, grow, and do everything they possibly can to ensure that they thrive. I would never have come this far if Freely in Hope did not believe in my dreams. In other people’s eyes, I was just an ordinary girl from the informal settlements. But in Freely in Hope’s eyes, I was a masterpiece. 

What are your top 3 aspirations for the organization in 2020?
In 2020, my hope is that we will acquire more partnerships and funding to strengthen and sustain our mission in Kenya and Zambia. I also hope to upscale all of our programs to create lasting impact in the communities we serve and beyond. Lastly, my hope is that we will build brand awareness to be known locally as one of the leading organizations in Kenya that is working towards ending sexual violence. My dream is to take our violence prevention programs to all the counties in Kenya.


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