Presentation of Malkia Foundation by Phionah Musumba
I am the founder and executive director for Malkia Foundation, a national nongovernmental organization in rural Western Kenya that empowers girls with educational opportunities and women skills for enterprise development towards gainful and or self-employment for sustainability.
I am a COMMITMENT to empower the AFRICAN girl with a STEM education.
I have overcome the odds to be who, what and where I am today. I am a high school dropout due to acute poverty levels at my home. I got married young, at 17 years old, immediately after dropping out of my last year of high school. I had to grow up fast. My husband was unemployed, and in 5 years we had two daughters. Life was beyond difficult. I fed my babies stones with a big mug of water to simulate a full stomach. We had no food, became homeless, and we couldn’t afford clothes or an education for the girls when the time came for them to start school. I had no other option than to be a sole bread winner. That was between 1994 and 1999. Five years into my marriage, I had to sit my high school exams as a mother, wife and breadwinner, with the hope that I would use the certificate to land a job. It was never to be, even after a three-year Diploma course in Mass Communication, as there were and still are three ways to land a media job in Kenya; buy the job, I was too poor; know someone at the top, I was a nobody so knew no one; sleep with the boss, I couldn’t compromise my morals.
I had my first son in 2002 and in 2004, due to poverty, I watched him die in my arms because I could not afford to take him to hospital. It was almost impossible for us to afford his burial expenses until well-wishers came to our rescue.
In 1999, I had met some two girls who were crying for having been sent home from school for exam fees. Upon enquiry, I learnt that one came from a single parent family, her mother was unemployed, and the other had an equally unemployed but drunkard dad and a housewife mum. I gave them the fees and watched them skip happily back to school. We became friends and they would come to me, together with other girls and some boys too, whenever they had some challenges.
That is how I founded The Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, after asking myself a single question; that if all these children were facing such challenges in the city, what about the girls in my village? I started by buying and distributing school supplies that included sanitary towels, reading and writing materials to school going children in my community. We registered with the local government in 2002, and in 2014, we graduated into a national NGO. We are now Malkia Foundation, and we empower girls with a STEM education and women skills for enterprise development towards gainful and or self employment for sustainability.
Malkia Foundation provides educational opportunities to children who would otherwise not go to school. We pay school fees for girls who cannot afford to. Currently, we have 46 girls in this program. We also pay into a feeding program for children from families that can’t afford two meals in a day, to keep them in school. Here we have 300 children aged between 6 and 14 years.
For 6500 boys and girls in primary and secondary schools, we provide school supplies every year. We also outsource training in marketable courses for 30 youth every year to make it easy for them to transition into the job market.
So far we have educated 166 girls to college and university level.
In poverty eradication, women empowerment and social enterprise development, we provide financial literacy skills for 7 weeks before providing tiny loans that make a big impact in their families’ lives, even if it means being able to meet their very basic needs. We have 525 women in 35 women groups who benefit from these mini microfinance loans every year.
Recently, we started working with teenage mothers, girls who find themselves in the parenting role early in life. This intervention is done through life skills training, mentorship, menstrual hygiene management and microfinance. Malkia Foundation encourages pregnant adolescent girls to resume schooling, the reason why income generating activities which include the manufacture of school uniforms at affordable prices for Vihiga County Schools and soap making are done by teen mothers. The soap making program started with 30 girls, but come COVID, the number of teen mothers has increased and Malkia Foundation is currently working with at least 200 teenage mothers every three months. The girls manufacture liquid soap to sell to the community at affordable prices. The returns are used to support girls to go back to school; at least 90% of the girls in the program return to school.
I have been working on starting our first ALL girls STEM School in rural Western Kenya and am happy to report that we have acquired the plot of land on which to start this.
Malkia Foundation is also building a digital global platform that will make it easy for women in any form of distress (GBV, human trafficking, homeless, jobless) around the world get workable if not permanent real time solutions for them. We aim to achieve this by partnering with likeminded individuals and organizations under one umbrella, to be a one stop shop for anything that ails women under the sun.
My unique perspective that I bring with me is that anyone can be whatever they want to be, if they will it hard enough, an example of resilience and perseverance beyond all odds.
I have a vision where girls in Africa will be able to transform into their wildest dreams; where they will become what they believe, and lead the change they want to see.
In 5 years, I hope to see Malkia Foundation graduate into Malkia International, and lead real meaningful change, not only in my community in rural Western Kenya and Africa, but around the world too.