Pendo’s Power is Freely in Hope’s first illustrated storybook that equips children to use the power of their voices and stop child abuse. Lydia Matioli, our Program Manager, created Pendo’s Power to empower parents to build trust and establish safety measures with their children.
When I was 5 years old, a neighbour touched my private areas inappropriately. Because I was so young, my mind could not even comprehend what was going on. Today, after 6 years of working with survivors, I have come to terms with the shocking prevalence of child sexual abuse, and the thought of a child being raped every nine minutes gives me chills. Most of the survivors that I have interacted with suffered abuse before the age of 16, and every single day I hear new reports of children who have been defiled. This reality convicted me to create a resource that would reduce the alarming rates of child sexual abuse.
Pendo’s Power is a storybook featuring a girl named Pendo, and her two friends Tumaini and Bahati. Pendo’s parents are conversant with the vulnerability of child sexual abuse and have educated Pendo about what abuse looks like. They have taught Pendo how she can prevent abuse by speaking up anytime she feels unsafe. Pendo uses this empowerment to help her two friends who have encountered different forms of sexual abuse. She helps them gain the confidence to speak up about moments when they felt unsafe, and in turn, a perpetrator of child sexual abuse is taken away from the neighborhood.
The themes featured in Pendo's power include consent, healthy body boundaries, safe and unsafe touch, speaking up, community values, positive parenting and justice.
I have been inspired by the stories of survivors in our community and motivated by our common desire to create safe environments for children in Kenya and all around the world. This book is very important to me because I am now a mother to a beautiful baby girl. I am terrified of all the vulnerabilities that she could be exposed to, including sexual abuse. I know that I cannot be around her at all times but I do not want my daughter to go through the same thing that I did at 5 years old, or worse! I want my daughter to be educated on what abuse could look like through the eyes of another child, and I want her to trust that my first response will always be to protect her.
My hope is that through Pendo's Power, children in Kenya and around the world will discover the power of their voices and will gain the confidence to call out sexual abuse in all forms.
Through this resource, parents and caregivers will feel equipped to initiate and facilitate conversations their children surrounding consent, body autonomy, and sexual abuse prevention. I believe that these conversations will drastically reduce the rates of child sexual abuse in the world at large. Perpetrators have an advantage over children because children are uninformed, but when both children and parents are aware of sexual abuse, abusers will not have the room to continue.
Program Manager, Kenya
After giving birth to her daughter, Lydia Matioli wanted to ensure her daughter grew up in a world that was safe. As a survivor of child sexual assault, Lydia was terrified that her daughter could be vulnerable to the same abuse she experienced. As a child-protection advocate, Lydia wanted to educate children to be aware of what abuse looks like, and to empower parents to build trust and establish safety measures with their children. This vision birthed Pendo’s Power, her first children’s book! Born and raised in Kibera, East Africa’s largest slum, Lydia has experienced the effects of sexual violence, lack of education, and poverty firsthand. Now serving as Freely in Hope’s Program Manager, Lydia coordinates, designs, and implements programs that exemplify best practices on ending the cycle of sexual violence. She is passionate about seeing survivors unlock and fully live out their potential.