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Epes Kenya Project

Popular Education for Health and Human Rights (Epes Model)
Capacity Building Training in Chile with Epes
HFAW’s goal is to socially, economically and politically empower marginalized rural women and girls. To do this we have to adopt one of the most effective strategy, popular education theorized by the Brazilian educator. It is a critical consciousness in which community members are able to identify and effectively address the problems in their community that are of greatest importance to them. In this model, community members seek to tap existing resources (leadership, personnel, space and materials) where possible and create meaningful and sustainable change. 
In January 2014, six women from HFAW traveled to Santiago to participate in EPES’ Fifth International Training on Popular Education, a two-week intensive event. These women included the two co-founders of HFAW, a training specialist, a program associate and two community coordinators. The 6 women are Dr. Grace Mose Okong’o, Hellen Njoroge, Dr. Mary Nasibi. Joyce Amoyi, Nelly Koyo and Lisper Bundi. See EPES facebook Click Here


The women have shared their experience during the launch of this program in Kenya.
Pilot Training in Kenya
Empowering Communities: Participatory and Transformative Strategies for Health and Human Rights in Collaboration with the Abagusii, Based on Popular Education Model
A pilot project (in four phases), was implemented in Kenya soon after the HFAW staff returned from Chile. This means staff are prepared in implementing popular education model.  Phase 1 entailed preparation for a communitywide launch in April 2014 and subsequent training for a subgroup from the Abagusii community. HFAW staff prepared an agenda and training materials. Working with the community coordinator, staff identified a provisional leadership committee, recruited potential participants, planned logistics, and began to engage local community leaders.


In Phase 2 (March), staff visited Gusii to identify 25 residents who would be the first group to receive training in the EPES model of popular education and become trainers themselves. Staff also sought support from leaders and professionals—the Chief, Sub-Chief, County Representative, Deputy County Commissioner, representatives from the Gender, Health, and Development Units, Police, school Principal and Head Mistress, and representatives of community-based organizations and churches. The County Women’s Representative in Parliament agreed to deliver the keynote address at the launch and many of those contacted agreed to be speakers. Local talent was recruited to provide entertainment.


The launch (Phase 3) occurred on April 2, 2014. Although originally conceived as an event for 40-50, approximately 300 people attended a day of music, fun, and serious messages about topics of concern. For example, a male physician described the dangers of FGM which still occurs despite a recent ban. Students acted out a scenario reprimanding parents for supporting FGM and police who failed to protect girls. Other topics included alcoholism, poverty, HIV/AIDS, child labor, gender-based violence, and human rights. The six women who went to Chile described their experience meeting the EPES health promoters and the powerful training they received. As a result of their heartfelt enthusiasm, the County Representative requested that HFAW add five additional trainees from wards not represented. The request was granted and will facilitate future project expansion. Although this is a women’s project, the 30 selected for the train-the-trainers event includes women (20) and men (10). HFAW staff have learned that including men in this highly patriarchal community ensures faster progress and helps eliminate backlash.


The two-day training (Phase 4) began the next day in a state of high anticipation and commitment. The training sought to help trainees realize that they are the key to personal and community transformation. The goal of this training was to prepare participants to train others in their communities to employ popular education to empower people to collectively address the issues of greatest importance to them. Throughout the training, effective practices were modeled and HFAW staff reminded participants at strategic points why certain methods were used and how materials could be prepared at little cost. Training methods included brief lectures, small group discussions, plenary presentations, circle question and answer interaction, games, exercises, song and dance. Following this, trainers described popular education which relies on community buy-in and leadership in order to be sustainable. This training is highly participatory and empowering and covers such topics such as principles, values, history and pillars of popular education. Theological pillars and principles relating to religion and African values are particularly resonant. In small groups, participants then work to identify salient community issues. Among the many issues raised were child labor, prostitution, alcoholism, poverty, land issues, corruption, FGM, gender-based violence (GBV), intermarriage, child marriage, and others. The second day was to have consisted of sessions about several of these issues but instead it was devoted to FGM because participants wanted to discuss it in depth, particularly the men who said they were unaware of how cutting was done and were appalled and many vowed not to allow FGM to continue for their girls and in the community.


Additional training meetings were conducted in April and June in which the trainees learned how to prioritize issues identified previously and discussed them in depth. They engaged in discussions to unveil what causes these issues, the scope of the problem, their effect on community and what they can do together to solve them. Alcoholism, poverty, FGM, GBV, and HIV/aids emerged from this process as being so important problems. They learned how to create an action plan and how to follow it with implementation. Using FGM for demonstration they publicly held a successful public campaign against FGM reaching out to over 300 people in the market and another 2000 through the local radio.


Graduation of the Health and Human rights Promoters
September 2, the graduation day, was the culmination of an exciting, transformative and empowering training which seeks to address various reproductive health and human rights and gender issues in Borabu Sub-County, Nyamira County. One of the goals of the training was to produce trainers of trainees. To have all the 30 participants graduate was a major achievement considering that majority of them have led peasant lives in the village. This was an extraordinary day for majority of the participants especially women who had not expected to return to school and earn a certificate, get recognition and support from their family members and community. The accomplishment of the training was reflected in personal testimonies of the graduates, “Today, I am a transformed person, that action plan can be used even in our homes" said Karen Nyaboke. She said she was ready to go out and transform others.


Mentoring Program for the Graduates
From September 2014- January 2015, HFAW is offering the graduates peer mentoring sessions to transition them from the pilot training to more grounded and confident facilitators who are able to take leadership in scaling up the popular education model in 4 locations in Borabu Sub-County beginning in early 2015. Considering that the graduates are ordinary women (and men) transitioning from village life to transformative activism, it was critical to help them develop additional discussions and content guidelines for various topics essential to building their confidence needed for success. Further, HFAW need to have their graduates conduct mock training and offer each other feedback and get hands on assistance from HFAW staff and develop materials, resources and dynamics to demonstrate readiness for the program next year in 2015.

Designed Bully Vincent