Kenya: Shelters for Kenyan Girls

The Problem: c. Natalia Caruso

In Kenya, severe drought and famine triggered by climate change is devastating rural communities.

Farmers whose livelihoods once depended on livestock are now left with nothing as their animals perish and their crops wither away.

Starving and pushed to the edge of survival, increasing numbers resort to trading their daughters for bridal dowries in farm animals or money—triggering a sharp rise in child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). These harmful practices threaten women’s sexual, reproductive and psychological health.

Young girls who endure the agony of FGM suffer from lifelong health problems, including psychological trauma, high risk of infection and a sharply increased risk of contracting HIV.

Those who get married at a young age must also sacrifice their education, losing the chance for better economic opportunities. The cycle of poverty continues.

The Solution:

With our partner organization, the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), MADRE supports the Nanyori Shelter Network, a group of six shelters that feed and care for hundreds of girls who have escaped forced early marriage and FGM. Grateful Kenyan mothers have named these school shelters the “Nanyori” Network, which means “You Are Loved.”

The shelters also serve as boarding schools, providing girls from Indigenous communities in rural Kenya with a safe and protected environment to pursue their education.

These shelters act as a vital safe haven to protect girls while offering emotional support and mentorship. They equip girls with opportunities to build a healthier, happier future. Hundreds of graduating girls will become teachers, nurses, social workers and lawyers who elevate entire communities.

The Results:

  • Young girls are provided with a safe haven from forced early marriage and FGM.
  • Girls and families are educated on their human rights through trainings facilitated by the shelter network.
  • Girls build their confidence through support networks and new friendships.
  • Girls receive guidance and psychosocial support through peer-counseling sessions and begin to heal from emotional trauma.
  • Girls are given the skills and education to play an active role in obtaining employment and tackling poverty.