THE HESHIMA SAFE HOUSE
As the first of its kind in Kenya, Heshima
Kenya’s Safe House Program is a transitional shelter that provides protection
and recovery to unaccompanied and separated refugee girls under 18 years old
and their children (and, on an exceptional basis, women over 18 years old and
boys under 10 years old.) We are a registered shelter program, CCI (Childrens
Charitable Institution) under the Kenyan Children’s Department. Our program
supports those who have experienced, and are at continued risk of,
homelessness, gender-based violence, and other protection issues. Approximately
half of Heshima’s Safe House Program participants have children of their own,
many from surviving situations of sexual assault.
Providing Protection: Currently located in a safe suburb in Nairobi, The Safe House is managed by supportive staff 24 hours a day in order to care for the residents around the clock. Our Safe House is also protected by 24-hour security guards onsite. The Safe House is also available to girls and young women who are not enrolled in Heshima Kenya’s programs but in need of short-term shelter, protection or temporary housing prior to seeking durable solutions. The length of time in the Safe House depends on individual circumstances.
Supplying Support: All residents receive intensive case management support, including counseling, medical and legal support, family tracing, and life skill classes about HIV prevention, conflict prevention, child care, and other life-skills. Critical to their recovery and establishing trust and security, all residents attend daily classes at the Girls’ Empowerment Project program site.
Creating Community: The Safe House program works to promote psychosocial healing by structuring a daily routine of games, homework, sports competitions, movies, chores, and gardening.
Increasing Independence: Heshima Kenya is developing positive exit strategies for girls and young women who reside at the Safe House long-term. The ultimate goal is to link residents to alternative care arrangements within the community. The Girls’ Empowerment Project’s Maisha Collective serves as one exit strategy for residents, providing them with savings and income to establish independence. Many Heshima girls who have exited the Safe House and joined the Maisha Collective are now living together in the community.