Empowering Young Women: Year 3 of our 3 year skills training project has begun!

Empowering Young Women: Year 3 of our 3 year skills training project has begun!

We are so excited to be welcoming in our final cohort of our 3-year project that aims to provide free skills training to 105 vulnerable and single young mothers in and around the Meru area. 

On 16th May 2022, 54 women reported to IPI Polytechnic, the educational area that is run by our long-term partners International Peace Initiatives. Over the next 12 months, they will be trained by our instructors on various techniques in the field of hair & beauty with the aim of graduating with an accredited Diploma in Hair & Beauty.  

They will also:  

  • Be given professional experience in a four-month work placement in a local salon. 
  • Participate in a Leadership & Mentoring Programme, designed to empower and encourage knowledge sharing with other women and girls in their communities. They learn of reproductive health, entrepreneurial and life skills, and yoga for health and well-being.  
  • Be offered individual counselling by a qualified counsellor, to help overcome past traumas. 

The women who join in our skills training course are often single young mothers who have been victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Women like 20 year old Jackline, who is one of our students this year. 

Listen to Jackline’s story here

Our Empowering Young Women project is a community-led initiative developed in consultation with disadvantaged and vulnerable young mothers in Meru, Kenya. It was developed by the young women to give them a means of growing sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their children and contribute to their local communities while stepping away from commercial sex work or begging as a means to survive.  

This project is so important because in Kenya, one in five girls aged 15 – 19 are mothers and come from families struggling with poverty and disease, and have low levels of education. Many young mothers are rejected by the father of their child, their families and community, and become homeless with no decent job prospects. Poverty forces them into commercial sex work, where they are exposed to health risks, sexual abuse, gender-based violence and unplanned pregnancies. This is their only opportunity to step away from poverty. 

Years 1 and 2 of the project have been completed with great success and we are looking forward to seeing the young women grow and flourish over the coming months.  

We have already secured funding for the first half of this year’s skills training but we still need to raise £13,000 so that all women are able to graduate next summer. If you feel moved to support them, please consider donating to our project.  

Any donation – big or small – makes such a big difference in our international projects. Whatever you are able to give will have such a positive impact. 

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susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.