I am Esther Nzambi, and I run a small community project called Femi_Bright_Future, which aims at fighting against period poverty and gender-based violence (GBV) in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.
No knowledge is useless knowledge - this is what they say. When we women learn something, we empower ourselves. Knowledge is our strongest weapon and it is our power, which no one can take away from us.
In April 2022 I scheduled to visit the NGO Boxgirls Kenya with one objective in my mind: I wanted to network with different women and girls in my field of interest (women and girls mentorship and empowerment). The visit gave me a grand chance to meet the #ExchangeForEquality project team. It was an insightful day beyond my anticipation. My interaction with #ExchangeForEquality helped me as an individual to shade off some stereotypes I previously had. More interesting is the fact that we got to share and exchange knowledge on period poverty and GBV, which are matters that are plaguing girls in different nations and communities.
As the day drew to break, I felt the urge and need to network further with #ExchangeForEquality as we had the same mission and interests in heart. I expressed my interest to further interact with the team and they made my little dream a reality. So eventually I made a visit to "Subiaco Retreat Center", where the team was residing.
I shared more about my project Femi Bright Future and its background. I narrated my visit to Samburu and the devastating state of period poverty I witnessed. I told them about my visit to the Ngetto slums and my sexual harassment encounter, which motivated me to finding a way of lighting a little hope and help to girls who live in the slums and have to face this challenges on a daily basis. I also got to share my visions about equipping the girls with skills, such as mat making, bead work, or hairdressing, which they can use to earn themselves some little money. This would enable them to purchase menstrual products without much struggle and to abstain from transactional sex, which is highly practiced in the slums here.
Later on in the day I got a chance to interact with Nelly, Rabea, Anna and Vitalma in the process of creating a digital story on "Period Poverty" and "Gender Based Violence". The questions we talked about during the interview were well thought of and insightful. They provoked me to think deeper and critically. Nelly, Anna, Rabea and Vitalma were so kind, open minded, considerate and supportive in the whole process, which motivated me to share a lot. I found pleasure working with them.
My encounter with the team gave me an inner peace that there's actually a "we" and not just a "me" in this world.
#ExchangeForEquality to me is an epitome of a successful exchange program. Stereotypes have been shaded off and amazing bonds created. Being a witness of how the program has been of impact to many souls, I strongly believe such encounters are an essential part of growing up as a young woman, as the skills obtained cannot be acquired in school. It has motivated and emboldened me as a young girl to broaden my horizons and be a role model in my community.
More information about Esther's project and how you can support here: FEMI BRIGHT FUTURE