The trip to Nairobi has been a real eye opener for me. Spending time with Maqulate,  having time to discuss our plans and being there, seeing and experiencing what life is like, has helped us focus on priorities, what we need to do and how we can achieve our goals. We both share the same vision and we are both determined to make our dreams of empowering girls towards a better, safer and secure future, come true.

So what is the plan? Well, firstly, we need enough money to buy a piece of land. So this will be phase one. At the moment the Salon is situated in rented property and the cost of renting can  fluctuate depending on what the owner of the property wants to charge. Once we have our own piece of land the costs will be much lower. We will only have to pay a charge for ground rates.

The next phase will be to build a nursery. The big problem for most girls is finding childcare, so that they can actually go and do some work. What happens is that other family members are looking after the baby  all day, when they also really need to go out and work to support the family. Having a place for the children to be looked after gives more women the freedom to earn something and support the family. The nursery can be used by girls involved in the project and by all girls locally. They will pay a small fee for the childcare which will go towards providing a meal for the children and the children will be guaranteed at least one good meal a day. Next to the nursery there will be an advice centre, where girls will be offered  advice and counselling on all sort of issues, such as HIV, contraception and pregnancy advice, legal advice and counselling for those who are victims of abuse and violence.

Phase three will be to build another floor above the nursery where our hair salon will be situated and next to that a sewing and tailoring room where girls will be taught to sew and produce products which can be sold, thereby bringing money back into the project. Both the Salon and the tailoring school will be teaching girls the skills they need to earn a living and will provide possibilities for a better future which they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Not all girls have had the chance to attend full time schools, but academic skills don’t necessarily guarantee a job. Having a skill and producing a product that people always need offers chance of a reliable income. In this case the girls will be taught to sew school uniforms which can be sold to individual schools and they will also be able to produce products which we can sell here. All the profits will go back into the project to help towards our goal of becoming self sufficient.

Being self sufficient is important to us. It’s not a sensible approach to pour money into a project, get everything built, done  and run by westerners, and then leave it all to the people themselves, who have not been involved, to carry the project on. Lots of projects fail this way. Maqulate and I want  this project to involve local people, be built by local tradesmen and run by local women who know how to help and support each other. Women and girls who have benefitted from our project will be asked to give their services back to help other girls who will follow after them. And money earned at the hairsalon and through the sale of products will help finance the project once it is up and running.

We have big dreams, Maqulate and I! We will get there. One small step at a time.

We can’t do it all on our own though. We hope that we can reach out to enough people who will sponsor us and help raise funds. We hope, if you are reading this, that you will consider making a donation or even think up a good idea for a fundraising event, that you could organise or just spread our news around to your friends and family by sharing this website or facebook page on social media.

Whatever happens a small amount can make a huge difference to the lives of the girls living in Nairobi’s slums.

Lots of love from Fiona and Maqulate xx