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CONTRIBUTOR TO STRATEGIES FOR HOPE MATERIALS

Eunice Kamaara

Co-author of My Life – Starting Now.

Born and educated in Kenya, Dr Kamaara has carried out major research projects in the areas of gender, human sexuality, and HIV & AIDS, and has published widely on these and other topics.  She has also acted as a consultant to international organisations such as the World Bank, the United Nations Population Fund and USAID.  Her academic work reflects her conviction that the Church is one of Africa’s most important institutions, with huge potential for changing the future of the continent, which is beset by a myriad of problems related to human behaviour. 

Dr Kamaara is keen to stress that she is not interested in research purely for its own sake:  “I don’t want my research reports on topics such as gender relations and youth sexuality to just gather dust on library shelves. I want to translate my research findings into practical programmes. This is why I’m involved in the African Christian Initiation Programme (ACIP), which is a project of the Eldoret Gender and Development Network (EldoGadnet).”

A group of children take notes whilst learning at a training workshop that Eunice facilitated

She has run numerous training workshops on gender and youth sexuality as part of ACIP’s activities. This experience contributed to the development of Called to Care no. 8, My Life – Starting Now.  It also led to the production of a 48-page pocket-book, ACIP Jewels, by five EldoGadnet members.  ACIP Jewels is an easy-to-use resource from which young people can gain accurate information about important topics such as health, self-esteem, relationships, peer pressure, sexuality, sexual behaviour, HIV & AIDS, leisure and time use, and conflict management.

Running training workshops for young people can be challenging, but it also has its lighter moments, as Dr Kamaara recalls: 

“One of our liveliest, and most useful, activities is a Question Box. The young people write down their questions, anonymously, and put them into the box.  The facilitator then picks out the pieces of paper and responds to the questions.  I remember picking out one piece of paper and the question was: ‘Is it true that wearing red pants attracts men to a girl?’  Although this question might seem silly, responding to it was quite challenging because it showed just how naive the questioner was. 

Children taking part in a role play during the training workshop

“But there have also been many very gratifying moments.  For example, we try to train the young people themselves as facilitators.  I recall how, on one occasion, when all the other facilitators had left the room, I was still there in a corner, but the participants didn’t notice me.  A girl stood up and gave a fantastic dramatisation of a point which the facilitator had covered earlier in the day.  She did it at least as well as the facilitator herself. This was a very satisfying and encouraging experience for us.

“The CALLED TO CARE workbook no. 8, My Life – Starting Now, has been very well received.  I recall one ACIP trainer saying that she had needed a trainers’ manual and this book met that need.  Another one remarked that the manual is easy to follow and has lots of interesting exercises to keep a youth workshop active. 

“But we still need to have this workbook available in Kenyan languages – first, in Kiswahili, which is spoken throughout the country, but also in local languages such as Dholuo, Luhyia, Kikuyu and Kalenjin.  This would make it much more accessible and useful to local churches and community groups which work in those languages.”

See ... My Life - Starting Now

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