What you need to know:
- In the dinner happening between 6pm and 11pm tomorrow, (14th February), you will get your flowers, munch your food and gobble down a drink at Sarova Panafric in Nairobi but your actual date will be the cause of girls living in an island more than 300 kilometres away from the city.
- In essence you will be helping to educate a girl in dire situation in Mfangano Island, Homa Bay County.
A Valentine’s Day dinner costing Sh6,000 per person, anyone? Well, according to the organisers of this event, you will spend the evening showing love in a little unconventional dimension.
In the dinner happening between 6pm and 11pm tomorrow, (14th February), you will get your flowers, munch your food and gobble down a drink at Sarova Panafric in Nairobi but your actual date will be the cause of girls living in an island more than 300 kilometres away from the city.
There is a dire situation regarding the education of girls in Mfangano Island, Homa Bay County, that has made an organisation founded by a UK-based retired maths teacher to make this year’s Valentine’s Day evening unique.
In the tiny island with about 25,000 people and whose mainstay is fishing, girls getting pregnant while barely in their teens is considered normal — according to Ms Elizabeth Mwemba, the programme management lead of Abiero Girls’ Empowerment.
Ms Mwemba says that for a long time, girls have been getting defiled at the island and the matter usually ends at the village elders level because there is little awareness of the laws that protect such children. Dropping out of school due to pregnancy is rampant and defilers hardly face any consequences.
“I usually explain it like if we’re living in 2024, people in Mfangano Island are living their life in 1924. It’s just so sad,” she told Nation.
“Can you imagine, you as a parent, especially a mother who should be able to protect your girls, you’re giving away your girl at the age of seven, at the age of nine? The poverty levels are really high and they do this just to get fish, but it’s really bad. It shouldn’t be happening,” she added.
Last year, Ms Mwemba says, there were 282 reported cases of girls below 14 who got pregnant in the island.
“Those are the reported cases from the hospitals,” said Ms Mwemba. “They could be way more than that because most of them give birth at home. Most of them don’t go ahead to report the cases.”
Abiero Girls’ Empowerment plans to use proceeds from the dinner to sponsor the education of girls in Mfangano. In last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams, one of the girls the community-based organisation was supporting scored a B-, which Ms Mwemba says was no mean feat.
“99 percent of our students are mothers,” she said.
The organisation is working with Wasamo Girls Boarding Secondary School, the only girls’ boarding facility in the island, through sponsorship of girls. Currently, 45 out of about 120 girls in the institution are being sponsored by Abiero Girls’ Empowerment.
“Valentine’s Day is … a day where people celebrate love. And the reason why we chose that day is because we want to show love to these girls by supporting them to have access to quality education,” said Ms Mwemba.