Elsie is a young mother living in Pumwani with her 5 year old child. Many girls in the slum face challenges that predispose them to teenage preganacy. In her prime life pursuing secondary education, she found herself pregnant in Form three. This prompted her parents to disown her, and withdrawing education and upkeep support. Out of frustrations she went to live with a friend who introduced her to sex trade, as she comments that. ‘Here in the slums, the easiest way to survive is to engage in survival sex. We don’t like it, but we have no options but to do it just to get something to eat’.
To Elsie, the entry of DREAMS Program in Pumwani was a turning point in her life. When she enrolled and joined a safe space, she found a family, a safe place where other girls like her encouraged each other and learned life skills. Elsie and other girls were taken through a tailor-made support training including: counselling, career awareness and visioning, HIV and GBV information and where to seek help, skills of coping, family planning education, financial capabilities and entrepreneurship trainings that has made them become determined, resilient and empowered in life.
Elsie never envisioned that she would ever attend a learning institution. She had resigned herself to a school dropout, a failure, a disappointment to all, a situation that was continuously rubbed on her by her immediate family. She has been getting her source of income through washing people’s clothes and small errands that would expose her to many other challenging situations. Elsie found her passion and talent in hairdressing, and the admission to Christain Industrial Training Centre through the DREAMS Program, was a dream come true. She diligently studied and graduated. She hopes to start her own beauty and hairdressing business where she believes she can employ and empower other girls form her neighbourhood.
Elsie proudly attributes her success to DREAMS Program, “DREAMS has made me a role model to many girls in Pumwani. I have knowledge on matters of family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention and other life skills. I share this with my colleagues to transform their behavior and mindset about life. I see a bright future for my life. I want to start my business, be self- employed and financially stable before I can think of getting married. All these is a Big Thank you to DREAMS, the USAID funded program. May it reach more girls like me and help them achieve their goals in life”