The government of Finland, World Vision Kenya, and the Alale community have constructed a Sh5.1 million girls' dormitory at Alale boarding primary school in the Kacheliba constituency.
The dormitory, termed a safe house for girls, will ensure girls who are at risk of FGM and early marriage remain in school for their studies.
West Pokot Deputy Governor (DG) Robert Komolle together with World Vision Finland Chief Executive Officer Annette Gothoni, while commissioning a dormitory at Alale Girls Boarding Primary School in Kacheliba constituency. Photo by Anthony Melly
The dormitory was equipped with beds, mattresses, and sheets, and each girl received a towel to dry herself after taking a bath.
The County World Vision Programme Manager, Tom Masinde, said the dormitory can accommodate 42 double-decker beds, with a capacity to house 84 girls.
'The dormitory is a safe haven where the girls can continue learning uninterrupted, away from harmful cultural practices like FGM and early marriage,' said Masinde.
He said the dormitory has two storage tanks for water, with each of them able to store 10,000 and 5,000 litres of the precious commodity, respectively.
Masinde also said the dormitory is self-contained, with its own bathroom and toilet attached to it.
Addressing the press during the commissioning of the project, the programme manager decried rampant early marriages and the prevalence of FGM in the Alale ward, terming the two vices as serious problems, hence the need for the protection of school-going girls.
He said that FGM is encouraged by the region's porous borders, with children at the Kenya-Uganda border being influenced to undergo FGM or get married young due to the boundary's openness.
In addition to saving girls and bringing them back to school, Masinde said World Vision also trains girls in life skills so that, beyond just learning what is taught in school, they get empowered to make wise decisions.
'By training girls, they will be the trainers of other kids,' he said, adding that they will serve as role models to other kids and be able to influence other girls not to undergo FGM or fall into the trap of early marriages but instead be able to attend school.
The programme manager said World Vision has a strong working relationship with the Alale Girls Board of Management, which has helped in the fight against retrogressive cultural practices like FGM and early marriages.
He asserted that during holidays, the school committee normally takes care of the children believed to be at high risk of undergoing FGM and early marriage by keeping them in school.
He said they have also supported the school with a posho mill to be used to raise income and help support the community around the school so that they do not have to travel long distances to grind their cereals.
'Members of the community use the posho mill to grind their food at subsidised prices, and in the process, the school generates an income for their daily activities,' Masinde said.
He appealed to parents to see the importance of education for their children as a tool for raising the standards of living in their families.
'I am appealing to parents to make a little bit of sacrifice, including selling part of their livestock to send their children to school, as this is never a waste, since after attaining education, they can buy even twice the number of animals that were sold for this purpose,' he said.
He said that the only lasting gift parents can give their children, given the perennial effects of the drought in the area, is education.
On his part, West Pokot Deputy Governor (DG) Robert Komolle, who commissioned the building on behalf of Governor Simon Kachapin, said the newly constructed dormitory will enhance girl child education.
He said World Vision Kenya has been very resourceful to the county in matters of development projects like the drilling of boreholes, which has improved access to sufficient and reliable water in the drought-stricken parts of the county.
Komolle noted that World Vision's mentorship programmes have aided in reducing incidences of FGM in the area and advancing education.
Alale Girls' Boarding Primary School head teacher Evelyn Chenang'at said the school has a population of 644 learners, including 445 girls.
Chenang'at highlighted that the school acts as a rescue centre for girls who are in danger of FGM. She said the new dormitory would inspire girls to value education.
'The dormitory would facilitate the girls in the school to settle and study peacefully without any form of disturbance from outside, hence enabling them to prepare for their future with hope,' she said.
The head teacher thanked World Vision and the government of Finland for complimenting the government's efforts towards strengthening the country's educational sector through the provision of facilities and ensuring that all students are given the much-needed support for their studies.
Source: Kenya News Agency