Community advocate builds futures for girls and women

In her Kenyan village, Mama Emma uses her voice to help girls gain access to education.

Story and photo by May Ondeng. Edited by Shawna Templeton.
Published March 6, 2012 at 12:00am PST

Emmaculate Musheini, known as Mama Emma in her village, has five children and is a World Vision community volunteer.

Because World Vision’s work in her village has improved her quality of life, she now advocates for education for women and girls in her community.

Greater opportunities

Mama Emma and her women’s group were among the first to benefit from and support World Vision’s presence in Mashuru, Kenya. “World Vision has taught me a lot,” she says. 

“Through our women’s group, we have been able to support each other, as well as do so much together for our community. World Vision opened my eyes to greater opportunities around me.”

When World Vision began its work in Mashuru in October 2000, some of the existing problems included lack of access to safe water, high incidence of preventable diseases among children, low school enrollment, and food insecurity due to lack of adequate rainfall. World Vision seeks to empower community members so that they play a key role in addressing these issues.

“World Vision helped us form groups and taught us about how to take care of our children. I was also taught about HIV and AIDS, and now I have become a voluntary counselor,” Mama Emma says proudly.

An advocate for girls’ education

Children in a Mashuru school, many of them girls, sit at desks provided by World Vision. World Vision also began a school feeding program in response to the Horn of Africa drought, which has impacted Mashuru families. Enrollment has improved 17 percent in participating schools.When Mama Emma was young, she was not allowed to go to school because she was a girl.

“My father refused to let me go to school and sent my older brother to school instead of me,” says Mama Emma. “And, even though I have been able to do a lot in serving my family and community, I see some limitation because I can’t read and write. I have enrolled in adult education classes, but it’s not easy.”

Mama Emma and her friends have become well-known advocates in their village for girls’ education and have even supported girls with school fees so that they can attend nearby schools. As a women’s group, they have mobilized the community to raise money to build a classroom, where Mama Emma’s youngest son, John, attends.

As Mama Emma explains, “It is not a cow or wealth that educates someone. It is knowledge, and that is what World Vision has given us. It is up to someone to apply what they have learned.” 

Three ways you can help

Thank God for Mama Emma and other female community leaders who advocate for girls in their community. Pray that education opportunities for girls around the world would continue to increase.

Make a one-time gift to help provide education for women and girls. Your gift will help provide resources such as school scholarships, art and music instruction, vocational training, and gender equality training. 

Visit World Vision’s Advocate Network for ways that you can advocate on behalf of girls and boys affected by poverty and injustice around the world.