“More powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin.” – Orrin Woodward.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. When we began our training for the 1st cohort of participants, we did not know how the Likoni community would perceive it. However,  we began with the end in mind and looked to our vision. We are always committed and remain focused on imparting our young girls with practical skills that they can employ in their daily lives to become more innovative, confident, enthusiastic, and motivated. The training consists of basic technology skills such as software and electronics and mentoring them into undertaking science related subjects in schools so as to pursue STEM related courses for their higher education.

To be more effective, we adopted a different approach to program delivery especially with this first lot which first included taking the trainers through an electronics and computer programming curriculum, then upon their graduation, promote them to act as trainers and mentors to subsequent beneficiaries. We were glad to have had an overwhelming number of trainers who were mostly drawn from the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) and a few from the Likoni community. These were trainees who had a background in electrical and electronic engineering and computer programming languages. They went through two weeks of comprehensive hands-on training and eventually came up with viable projects which were scalable.

Some of our trainers , participants and Claire – the French Embassy Project Officer for the SFD (Social Fund for Development).

It was an interesting exercise as we visited local leaders such the area chiefs, village elders, church leaders, heads of schools and imams. All of them were very helpful in spreading word about the program to community members. With strong support from Hatua Likoni, we also approached and talked to other Community Based Organizations and youth groups, and managed to get positive responses. Many young people enrolled to participate in the program.

In our first cohort, we enrolled 46 participants. These were energetic, focused and determined young people who were ready to learn and acquire knowledge. It was exciting to see how young people were learning on how to connect circuits and making it work. One of the participants who had no background in physics was afraid at the beginning, but then Lilian (Project Lead) encouraged her and convinced her to take it positively, face her daemons, break the walls of fear and build a positive attitude which helped her. She ended up becoming quite the expert in class. Her project called Motohouse – A fire detection system for rural households – was one of the best.  

A Prototype of MOTOHOUSE in the making

Felix (Trainer) guiding participants during a practical session

After two months of training, participants were required to come up with a project as part of their final assessment. The projects needed to be development specific focused on solving a problem (s) in the community. We really appreciate all the initial volunteers who signed up for Training as trainers. They have indeed done impressive work in training programme beneficiaries and imparting them with the skills and confidence to come up with projects. Some of these projects included ideas and prototypes such as MOTOHOUSE, Smart farm, and a Child Health detection device.

The  child health detection team presenting their project

We were so happy that the community embraced the MakersHub program and enlisted to go through two months of intensive training.

Recent Graduation of Cohort 1 Participants (Middle right in Bui bui, Sheikha Dhiyebi – Assistant Project Lead – Middle left after her, Lilian K. Wambua – Project Lead – and first row squatting woman, Daylene Nyaboke – Project Admin. 

Thirty five participants from the first enrollment successfully completed the program and graduated. Ten of our participants will be pursuing STEM related courses such as ICT, IT, Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Computer Science in universities. Two of the teams are improving their prototypes and we have a waiting list of sixty (60) participants who are eagerly waiting to join the program during the upcoming intake.

Our first cohort of participants will be coming back as volunteers to assist others (in blue T-shirt below is Francis Mutisya who is volunteering at the centre after completing the program.)

We take the opportunity to end this blog with an appreciation to all our volunteers and partners. Many thanks to the French Embassy in Kenya for their financial support in the project, to the entire Hatua Likoni Management for hosting us and for their hospitality, to our M-Power team members and fellow SwahiliBox Ladies for ensuring that the project runs smoothly.

“The best legacy a man can leave behind, is the people whose lives he has changed.” #BeTheChange!

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