From learning to earning: Fostering opportunities and building stronger communities.

“In a world where access to education and meaningful employment often determines one’s future, the Association of Sisterhoods in Kenya (AOSK) is demonstrating the transformative power of combining learning with sustainable job opportunities. As communities strive for greater equity and prosperity, the integration of education and employment not only empowers individuals but also strengthens the very fabric of society. This synergy is not just about filling job vacancies; it’s about nurturing potential, fostering resilience, and paving a path toward a more inclusive tomorrow.”

“Train a young person in the right path; as they grow older, they will stay true to it.”

A biblical wisdom and a philosophical text that focuses naturally on turning to the profound impact of early education and guidance on lifelong development. This timeless adage underscores the critical role of foundational learning and moral instruction during the formative years of youth. It suggests that the values, skills, and beliefs instilled in young minds resonate deeply throughout their lives, shaping their choices and behaviors long into adulthood. A belief that The Association of sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) have embraced since time memorial.

Throughout history and across cultures, similar sentiments have echoed in various forms, emphasizing the enduring importance of education beyond mere knowledge acquisition. This encourages societies to invest not only in imparting practical skills but also in cultivating resilient character and ethical decision-making, thereby fostering individuals who are equipped to navigate challenges and contribute positively to their communities for generations to come.

The Genesis and the benefits of The Association of sisterhoods of Kenya.

The Association of sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) was founded in 1962 with the purpose of uniting diverse congregations and communities of Catholic women religious (sisters) in Kenya. Since its establishment, the AOSK has been instrumental in coordinating the missions, activities, and social services delivered by these religious communities throughout Kenya.

The AOSK plays a significant role in promoting the mission and ministry of Catholic women religious in Kenya. This includes involvement in education, healthcare, social services, and pastoral work, reflecting the broader mission of the Catholic Church in the region.

Through all these they came up with The Sisters-led Youth Empowerment Initiative (SLYI) which was founded by the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) with the help of Conrad Hilton Foundation aims to uplift and empower young people across Kenya. This initiative leverages the extensive network and resources of Catholic women religious congregations to address the various challenges facing youth today

One of the main focus of this initiative is education. Sisters belonging to the AOSK work tirelessly to ensure that young people have access to quality education, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. They establish and run schools, vocational training centers, and educational programs that equip youth with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their lives and careers.

“Fostering Empowerment: Transformative Leadership in Education and Entrepreneurship Initiatives”

Sr. Marylina Wambugu

Sr. Marylina Wambugu, a member of the Mission Congregation of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary, plays a pivotal role at Marengoni Community technical training College where she serves as the institution’s leader. The college specializes in offering civil courses aimed at empowering young individuals in the community. They meticulously identify students during fieldwork activities or inquiries, conducting thorough background checks for additional insights. The programs provided cater to technical skills based on the students’ preferences, spanning durations typically ranging from two to three years. Financially, the institution extends support primarily to economically disadvantaged individuals. Courses offered include technical skills in computer applications, hairdressing, food and beverage preparation, fashion design, as well as electrical and plumbing services. As of 2023, the college enrolled 80 students across various disciplines, and the numbers are continuing to rise this year.

According to Sister Marylina, the institution’s achievements significantly impact both the community and its students. Graduates are equipped to achieve self-sufficiency, having acquired practical skills over their years of study. The program’s substantial enrollment is advantageous, reflecting its widespread reach and effectiveness. Notably, the college has developed specialized programs that aid individuals struggling with addiction, facilitating their recovery and reintegration into society. This holistic approach underscores Marengoni Community College’s commitment to fostering both personal growth and community welfare through accessible education and practical skills training.

Sr. Mercy Mwayi, serving as the program manager for the Association of Sisters of Kenya within the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Joseph, leads the Sisters Led Youth Empowerment Initiative. The initiative was launched with a primary objective of empowering and supporting youth in entrepreneurship, particularly those from vulnerable and underprivileged backgrounds. Sister Mercy emphasizes that the initiative provides crucial support including rent, fees, and childcare for nursing mothers attending classes. The process of identifying beneficiaries involves rigorous interviews followed by vetting at the Tumaini Center to ensure comprehensive selection criteria are met. She proudly states, “We have implemented the initiative in 36 technical institutions across 18 dioceses in the country. To date, we have supported 502 youths through the program, granting 126 businesses to beneficiaries from our initiative.”

Sister Mercy’s leadership in the initiative underscores its profound impact on fostering economic independence and empowerment among disadvantaged youth. By facilitating financial support and childcare, the initiative not only enhances access to education but also promotes sustainable entrepreneurship. The successful implementation across multiple technical institutions and dioceses reflects a strategic approach to nurturing young entrepreneurs and uplifting communities nationwide. Sister Mercy’s commitment to the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Joseph’s mission exemplifies dedication to social justice and transformative education for youth in Kenya.

Voices of Transformation: Stories from Beneficiaries

Photo:(Right)Peline Weche  with a customer.

Peline Weche, a 22-year-old born in Kakamega County, Kenya, hails from a humble background in a family of seven. Her journey exemplifies resilience and highlights the transformative impact of support programs such as the Sisters Led Youth Empowerment Initiative. Peline’s personal narrative underscores the significance of perseverance and faith in conquering challenges.

“I’m Peline Weche, 22 years old, born in Kakamega. I completed my studies and come from a humble background, part of a family of 7 including my parents and siblings. My mom is a farmer, and my dad, based in Nairobi, is a businessman. I discovered the initiative through my aunt, who introduced me to the lead sister. I joined the program on February 14th, 2022. Since then, I have transformed from feeling hopeless after high school to being able to pay my bills and support my family back home. Despite challenges like months without clients, we persevere to meet our rent obligations. My message to fellow youth is to remain prayerful and patient for God’s timing in becoming the best version of yourself.”

Through dedication and the opportunities provided by the initiative, Peline has not only achieved financial stability but also emerged as a source of inspiration for other young people facing similar struggles. Her message resonates with hope and encouragement, emphasizing the value of persistence and trust in one’s journey towards success.

Vincent Kioko, one of the beneficiaries, highlights the impact of opportunities provided by the institute. His journey from financial hardship to entrepreneurship exemplifies resilience and determination.

Photo: (Right) Vincent Kioko and his colleague outside their restaurant.

“I’m Vincent Kioko. I come from a family of 6, where I am the firstborn. Our family faced financial instability, which made it challenging to afford education for all of us. I enrolled at St. Charles Lwanga for vocational skills after completing high school. Since then, my life has transformed significantly, coming from a humble background. We have achieved a lot; the program supported us in starting our restaurant business. Our plan is to expand even further beyond our current accomplishments.”

Through support and hard work, Vincent and his family have not only overcome challenges but also set ambitious goals for their future growth and success. His experience underscores the importance of accessible education and mentorship in empowering individuals to create sustainable livelihoods and contribute positively to their communities.

In conclusion, the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) is committed to strengthening the Sisters-led Youth Empowerment Initiative (SLYI) through strategic support, collaboration, and advocacy. This partnership aims to enhance SLYI’s capacity, promote youth rights, and foster sustainable development, empowering young leaders and driving positive social change across Kenya.

By. Phiona Jael 

New People Media Centre

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