Help Dandelion Africa transform rural communities in Kenya through their Boys for Change program.
Boys for Change trains boys and young men to teach both girls and boys in schools about contraception, women’s rights, FGM, menstruation cycles (importantly making it acceptable for girls to attend school during their periods). It is already seeing results in rural communities. Over the last four years, they have reached 3,000 boys in 40 primary and secondary schools. In 2018, eight of the villages with the Boys for Change programme in their schools chose to abandon the practice of FGM and no girls underwent the procedure! All of the 40 schools running the Boys for Change programme experienced the lowest number of girls getting pregnant during the last school year.
“Our greatest resource is working together; this is not any different in sexual and reproductive health. For girls and women of reproductive age to access contraceptives, without fear, without stigma, we must educate our young men to understand that sexual and reproductive health is a right for all women, and that when we plan, we thrive.”
- Wendo Aszed, Founder of Dandelion Africa
Your support will enable Dandelion Africa to train twenty young men on sexual and reproductive health and gender balance. Each of these twenty young men will mentor three other young men with the Boys for Change peer to peer training program, and implement community action plans to advocate sexual and reproductive health for the girls and women in their villages. They will all engage with local men and boys to ensure that they understand the importance of family planning for young women of reproductive age in the Mogotio region, increasing the uptake of modern contraceptive methods amongst these young women.
“I have learnt the effects of the harmful practice of FGM and discovered the truth. We will not accept FGM in our communities anymore, it is a violation and contributes to poverty in our societies because this practice encourages our sisters to get married early and they do not go to school.” - A young Boy for Change
Founded in 2010 by local Wendo Aszed, Dandelion Africa is a registered non-profit organisation whose mission is to stimulate awareness and involvement in creating sustainable solutions to improve governance, opportunity for education, sexual and reproductive health and economic livelihoods for women and youth in marginalised areas.
Dandelion Africa envisions a world where people in marginalised areas live healthy, safe and educated lives. Dandelion Africa was founded to provide access to information and contraception - to give women a voice and the opportunity to break free from the poverty cycle.
“There’s been a misconception that women living in rural areas are not cognisant of the fact that they need to plan their families, most women here want to be able to plan their families. At Dandelion Africa we have a holistic approach which looks at livelihood, immunisation, nutrition and water, not just contraception. A woman who can access contraceptives but has no money is a woman with just contraceptives in poverty.” - Wendo Aszed
Dandelion Africa is rooted in Mogotio, Rift Valley, Kenya and has knowledge of rural cultures and social norms as well as of the challenges facing the communities in the area, with special regards to women and young people.
Wendo Aszed, Founder of our Empower to Plan programme partner Dandelion Africa, explains how she came to fight for women's sexual and reproductive health in rural Kenya, the challenge of rapid population growth, and how access to modern family planning has changed lives for the better.
Sexual reproductive health and poverty are interlinked; if you don’t address one then the other will never be addressed either. Poverty is increasing across Kenya. It’s a never-ending cycle when women are unable to plan their families because of a lack of information, and they are unable to get information because they are too poor.
Young men do not understand the effects of FGM or the implications of this retrogressive cultural practice to poverty and sexual reproductive health of women.
The larger the families, the more pressure there is on limited resources; girls drop out of school because parents prioritise their sons’ education. These girls are married young and start having babies aged fifteen or sixteen.
Men are the decision makers in the rural communities and families, so it is vital to educate the young men to understand that sexual and reproductive health is a right for all women, and that when we plan, we thrive. Young men are learning to stand up for their sisters’ rights, rather than repress them.
Using youth peer-to-peer education is incredibly effective; 18-24 year olds go into schools and talk about key issues: sexuality, sexual reproductive health and rights, FGM, nutrition and how to look after yourself - especially if you are married and pregnant as a child or young teenager. There are dramatic changes in attitudes when youth talk to fellow youth. These then transform into changes in practice. In 2018, eight of the villages with the Boys for Change programme in their schools chose to abandon the practice of FGM and no girls underwent the procedure.
Kenya’s population has grown from over 40 million in 2011 to around 50 million to date. According to Government data, approximately 40% of fertile women do not use family planning.
The family planning clinics and hospitals are too far away for the majority of women in rural Kenya to access with no roads to reach them. Most women cannot afford the time it takes to walk twenty kilometres to the nearest facility, nor can they afford the financial cost, because even though Kenya states that contraceptives are free - when women go to a clinic they have to pay.
As rapid population growth in Kenya puts an ever-increasing strain on natural resources, it becomes more and more difficult for parents to provide for their children and ultimately to improve their family’s quality of life.
“Kenya is becoming a desert. There’s pressure on the environment because we use charcoal and firewood. The larger the family, the more it consumes. There’s no provision to plant trees because trees cost money. If nothing is done soon there won’t be any resources left. Communities are beginning to realise that it’s better for the eco-system around them if they have smaller families.” - Wendo Aszed
Dandelion Africa is run by local people within their communities who understand the needs and how best to address them, how to communicate effectively to be a catalyst for positive change in these marginalised areas of rural Kenya.
“I appreciate what Dandelion Africa is doing in my community and impacting the lives of young girls. At Dandelion I have learnt that, I have a voice, I can use it, and for sure, I am given the space and now take opportunities to use my voice to speak up against girls injustice in our communities.” - A girl attendee of a school participating in Boys for Change
Last year Dandelion Africa provided contraception and information to 35,000 women and provided other services to 100,000 other people, namely children, young people and men. They have been effective in reaching women in their mid- twenties and thirties – now they are trying to engage with younger women and men, girls and boys.
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