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Vunja Kalabash Campus Project: Combating S&GBV in Kenyan Universities

Vunja Kalabash Initiative project was launched after the UNWomen sponsored training of Campus Peer Mentors that saw 30 students from Daystar University, University of Nairobi and Chuka University trained on how to address the links between S&GBV, Alcohol & Drug Abuse (ADA) and mental health. The trained peer mentors have proactively engaged in the anti-S&GBV campaigns in universities and beyond using one to one approach, group discussions, making presentations after lecturers, sensitizing other students and through digital media and mass media forums.

For continuity purposes, Elim Trust, which is registered as a trust in Kenya, has not only continued to support the trained peer mentors activities but has penetrated to 12 public and private universities in Kenya initiating anti-S&GBV campaigns.

IMPACT BOARD

  • Mentoring of Peer Mentors: The trained Peer mentors were divided into 4 groups and Elim Trust professional staff and associates meet them regularly for mentorship while providing them with direction on how to handle emerging S&GBV cases. However, some cases of SGBV have been challenging for the peer mentors who have only received the first level of training. Such cases are referred to Elim Trust for professional counseling and other psychosocial support. The summary of those cases are attached as part of appendix.
  • Follow up Meeting: Three follow up meetings have been held with the trained peer mentors; two took place at Elim Palm offices in Westlands while on 18th June, 2015 an evaluation meeting was held in Daystar University. It came out clearly the trained peer mentors were actively involved in the campaign at individual level, in groups and through social media. Having gained knowledge on different types of GBV, the peer mentors reported that most of the cases they attended to were mainly emotional abuse in relationships while others had originated from student’s families where domestic violence was reported as rampant. Sexual abuse through intimate relationships also emerged while other high cases they had dealt with were sexually transmitted grades and transactional sex known as ‘sponsor and sponsoree’ relationships. Coupling of students, where high rate of SGBV, was taking place were also some of the cases they had attended. 

Besides their own campuses, peer mentors were being invited in youth forums including churches while others reported being invited to secondary schools to handle GBV cases. In view of this, Level 2 training is critical to further empower peer mentors with mentoring and counseling skills.

vunja1Peer mentors and mentors pause for a photo after the evaluation meeting held in Daystar University.

  • Digital Platform & Mass Media Forums: Through Facebook, tweeter and other social media platforms, including the mass media forums, the anit-GBV campaign has not only intensified in campuses but also professionals are seeking for help. For example, recently a professional contacted one of the university students seeking for help, however due to the magnitude and nature of the domestic violence case, the survivor was sent to Elim Trust for professional services and referral to other networks.

juliaLeft: Julia Kagunda, Elim Palm Program Director, with 2 Campus Peer Mentors, had a morning show interview on KBC Radio Zinga Show. A security guard working with Kabianga University heard about the Campus Vunja Kimya project. As a result currently we are in communication with the Dean of Kabianga University planning on activities to tackle SGBV which has been described as rampant in the university resulting to increase of mental health challenges.

  • Penetration 12 Universities: So far we have penetrated in twelve (12) universities namely Kenyatta University, JKUAT, Egerton University, Moi University, University of Nairobi, Nazarene University, St. Paul’s University, Strathmore University, Kabianga University, Daystar University, Chuka University and USIU. We visited the following universities where rich discussions were held on combating GBV amongst other psychosocial issues.

United States International University (USIU-Kenya:  The Vunja Kimya select team met with the student leadership of USIU and agreed that they will join in the campaign while participating in Vunja Kimya Interuniversity activities and hold sensitizations workshops in university. There was an agreement that they would host one of the Vunja Kimya meetings or conventions.

usiu

Kenyatta University: The Vunja Kimya select Team had a fruitful meeting with the student Leadership of Kenyatta University where they agreed to start the campaign and enroll Vunja Kimya Ambassadors. They offered their Amphitheatre with a capacity of 6,000 people for an art based anti GBV campaign, which Elim Trust is planning for as it will be taking place on 30th September 2016.

Strathmore University: The Vunja Kimya select team also met with the student leadership of Strathmore and they joined the program and have started pursuing club registration while willing to hold any vunja kimya interuniversity convention.

Egerton University- Meeting with the Dean of Students: Prior to meeting with the dean, the Vunja Kimya select team had a meeting with the Egerton university Nairobi Campus student leadership who embraced the idea and were ready to register a club. On 25th July, 2016, Elim Trust Program Director met with the University Dean, who mentioned that the issues of SGBV were rampant especially in the ‘Coupling” arrangement which was high among 3rd and 4th year students. It was agreed that registration of a club was urgent and the dean agreed to give all the necessary support for the campaign to start immediately.   

universityJulia Kagunda of Elim Trust meeting Dr. Lydia Kinuthia- Dean of Students: Egerton Nairobi Campus

Focus Group Discussions: UON, Daystar, KU, USIU, JKUAT, St.Pauls, Chuka and Nazarene University converged at Elim Trust premises in Westlands on Friday 24th June 2016 where the first interuniversity FGD took place. It came our clearly that the link between SGBV, ADA and mental health were apparent in Universities. High rates of suicide were mentioned attributed to psychosocial crisis that faced university students yet it was reported that there lacked proper mechanism to address those issues.  The strategy of combating GBV in Universities was strengthened as structures of working in different universities were established. The present student leaders have continued to be engaged in different activities and the processes of forming clubs in every university that will champion the anti-SGBV campaigns have started.

fgdAbove: Student representatives from various universities who participated in the FGD at Elim Trust Premises

  • Interuniversity Sensitization Workshop held at Parklands Campus on 5th August, 2016: One of the action plans that emerged from the Kyaka training was for each trained peer mentors to recruit two or more other students to be sensitized about S&GBV in order for them to become Vunja Kimya Ambassadors meant to carry anti-S&GBV campaigns in Campuses. On 5th August about 50 students from 7 campuses benefitted from the event and they are actively involved in GBV outreaches in their environment and beyond. The campuses were: Parklands Campus, Daystar-Nairobi Campus, Daystar-Athi River Campus, Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi, Masinde Muliro University, and St. Paul’s University.

Seeking Partnership in Upcoming Vunja Kimya Projects

We have the following activities where we are specifically asking for partnership with likeminded organizations as indicated here below:

  1. Inter-University Dialogue Platform: It  is critical to have an inter-university platform where students can have a guided dialogue on social and health issues affecting them in their environment while at the same time they are sensitized on how to approach those issues. In view of that we are asking you to consider partnering with us an inter-university dialogue platform that will take place at Kenyatta University on 23rd September, 2016. The platform will see students from 7 universities engage on issues of S&GBV and its link to HIV/AIDs and sexual reproductive health. It will also be an art based sensitization event with messages focusing on the same issues.  Prior to the event, 40 students from Kenyatta University will be trained as peer mentors for continuity of engagement and providing psychosocial support.   
  2. The first phase of training University Student Leaders targets 8 top universities. We will bring together five student leaders from each of the eight universities for a three-day workshop. The workshop will be our platform for engaging with these leaders, equipping them and motivating them to take on the responsibility for social change. The workshop is designed to enhance a sense of duty amongst these leaders, and give them the tools necessary to fulfill that duty within their context. ET will then work with these leaders through mentorship facilitated by industry leaders to create a vision for change and a framework for implementation at the university. Through trained student leaders, peer mentors will be identified and trained for every campus within those 8 universities. The universities are: University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, JKUAT, Egerton University, USIU, Daystar University, Strathmore University and Moi University. To implement this first phase and equip the forty student leaders, Elim Trust is seeking partnerships with your company through funding of the program.

Conclusion

We are grateful to UNWomen who funded the first training and saw the first Campus Peer Mentors trained who are actively engaged in anti-GBV campaigns in Kenyan Universities. As we have engaged with student university leaders and administration, it has emerged that the link between S&GBV and ADA is high; and mental health challenges have continued to arise leading to high rates of suicide in campuses. In one public university it emerged that in every semester, a case of suicide was witnessed.  It is in line with this regard that we are seeking collaboration with other minded organizations like yourself as we tackle S&GBV and other issues related to in Kenyan universities and other institutions of learning.