The morning of the 13th of October 2018 finds me at Ziwani Primary School in Tudor, Mombasa. A hot Saturday morning at the school’s grounds with the young children thoroughly excited, jumping up and down. For a few minutes, upon arrival on site, I stand there fixated for a few minutes gazing around. At all the energy around me. The screams. The shouts. The falls. The loud laughter. The smiles. All the stories going round these hearty children. I’m gazing at it all rather longingly. Enviously, almost. Having had taken the night bus from Nairobi, with roughly an hour’s sleep and just a shower and a snack bar, as my only energy reservoir, I am all sorts of exhausted. And the Mombasa heat is really not helping.
As we’re getting ready for the day’s events, I attempt to engage with some of the students who are seated, seemingly a bit low on energy like myself. Najma comes off as a household name amongst the students. They are excited for the day.
I catch up with Najma as well with whom I have a brief chat with. Najma, founded WeForShe one year ago, which is the reason we were assembled there. To celebrate the milestones of a dream to see all girls go to school and fight against menstruation as a taboo topic in society.
She’s worked as a Communication Officer in the County Department of Water for a couple of years, which is where WeforShe was born. During a project where the county government of Mombasa was building toilets in some of the schools in 2016. “I would interact a lot with the students during site visits in the course of the project,” Najma tells me. “After the completion of the project, one of the students told me she has problems having access to sanitary towels. So I was buying her pads while I was still meeting her during the project. However, after further discussions, I discovered the problem was more than just one girl not having pads and missing school because of it. That was where We for She was born.”
For its one year in existence, WeforShe has steadily supplied sanitary towels to 15 schools out of a possible 40 schools. And they not only just provide sanitary towels but they also have mentoring sessions with girls when they distribute the sanitary towels. Najma and her WeforShe team have been able to build a safe space for these girls. A safe space so much so that the girls feel comfortable reporting rape and other assault cases to them. For the one year, 2500 students have benefited from the WeforShe team. Some of their biggest donors have been The Gulf African Bank, Abdulswammad Foundation, Machele Foundation, Red Cross Mombasa and friends and well-wishers.
To mark their one year of operation, WeforShe also did a free medical camp majorly for the students.
As for her future plans with WeforShe, Najma tells us she intends to run the organization in a more sustainable way other than fully relying on well-wishers for their operations. They intend to start running several campaigns like ‘Adopt a School’ or ‘Adopt a Girl’ and perhaps embark on income-generating activities to help sustain the organization.