Heshima Kenya, a nonprofit organization operating in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first organization in Kenya devoted to protecting unaccompanied and separated refugee children and youth, with a special focus in supporting women and girls ages 13 to 23 years old from Somalia, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi.
We provide shelter, education, vocational training, case management support, and advocacy to participants and their children who have experienced the detrimental effects of war, the loss of their families, and, in many cases, kidnapping, rape, trafficking, unlawful detainment, and torture.
We also mobilize members of the refugee community through educational outreach. At the core of Heshima Kenya’s model is the creation of a social network that empowers girls and young women to strive for economic self-sufficiency and become community leaders in their own right.
WHY HESHIMA KENYA?
With competing needs to support over 600,000 refugees displaced in Kenya, humanitarian organizations do not have the capacity to meet the specialized needs of unaccompanied and separated children and youth, especially adolescent girls. This is especially demonstrative in Nairobi, where there are only a handful of organizations to support the growing number urban refugees, many whom will never return home or be resettled to a third country of asylum.
Heshima Kenya, established in January 2008 as by co-founders Anne Sweeney and Talyn Good, closes this protection gap and has established a safe community that is led by the young women we empower. Not young children, but not yet confident adults, Heshima Kenya programs target refugee adolescent girls because they experience the highest rates of exploitation and abuse. Nearly 60% of the 700 girls and young women supported by Heshima Kenya have experienced some form of sexual and gender-based violence (this percentage is believed to be closer to 80% as most do not report these incidents).
Today, Heshima Kenya is very proud to have redefined how holistic models of protection should work for this population.