Imarisha Jamii, AVSI Kenya’s latest project in urban refugee communities, is a compound of two Swahili words: Imarisha (strengthen) and Jamii (community). The project seeks to enhance the social and economic resilience of extremely poor adolescent girls and young women in urban refugee and host communities in Nairobi, Kenya.
For over 30 years, AVSI Kenya has served vulnerable communities, implementing projects in education, school construction, vocational training, child protection and family economic strengthening for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC); projects in health, including HIV/AIDS; and in business development. AVSI in Kenya partners with several local organizations in the capital of Nairobi, rural villages, and refugee camps.
Principle local partners include St. Kizito Vocational Training School, Companionships of Works Association (COWA), Little Prince School in Kibera and Cardinal Otunga Trust. International partners such as UNICEF, European Union and US Government (State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration – PRM).
Kenya is currently host to some 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers of which 65,000 live in informal settlements in Nairobi and its environs; Mombasa and Nakuru. Most of the refugees come from Somalia, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Sudan. Refugees in urban settings are among the most vulnerable in the region and women find themselves in a particularly precarious position. They are often sent ahead without male partners and, thus, must assume the role of head-of-household. Urban refugee adolescent girls and young women face many challenges, including abuse, poor education and high levels of poverty arising from lack of skills which block entry into the labor market.
With funding from UNFCU Foundation, AVSI-USA partners with AVSI Kenya to support adolescent girls and young women in urban refugee communities as they build a path out of extreme poverty by engaging in business skills training and income generating activities. Market-viable lines of business include dress-making, bakery, cookery, detergent making, tie and dye. In addition to financial literacy training, candidates are helped to set up Community Savings and Loans Associations (CSLAs)
to pool resources and start-up microbusinesses. AVSI staff provides technical assistance to administer savings groups, ensuring that financial objectives are contributing to the goal of graduation.
- Train 250 participants ages 13 to 35 on income generating activities and microbusiness management
- Support training and creation of savings and credit cooperatives
- Provide access to psychosocial services for 250 adolescent girls and young women, including parenting and life skills