Sophie Kibuywa visiting Tyrol

On Sunday 22 January 2022, Sophie Kibuywa, the director of our partner organisation in Kenya, arrived in Innsbruck on the Flixbus from Frankfurt. Barbara Messner, President of MOYO, was delighted to see her again, as the women had not seen each other for more than two years. Due to COVID and the elections in Kenya, a trip to Africa in the summer of 2022, combined with school visits, was not possible.

Sophie Kibuywa had already been travelling in Europe since 7 January 2023. Starting from a conference of the worldwide rural people’s movement FIMARC in Brussels, she travelled to a project partner in Frankfurt until she continued her journey to Innsbruck. After Innsbruck, the programme also included visits to project partners in Salzburg and Vienna before returning from Vienna to Nairobi.

The programme in Tyrol was packed, as many people wanted to take the opportunity to meet Sophie Kibuywa personally. Apart from meeting old acquaintances from Tyrol such as Franz Hainzl, the former director of Brother and Sister in Need, as well as Christine Baur, the former social provincial councillor (both were sponsors of Sophie’s organisation DESECE in their positions), a meeting with the MOYO board was on the agenda on Monday evening. The time was used to exchange experiences of the previous cooperation, to develop new ideas and to discuss further cooperation and optimisation of the information flow.

On Tuesday, Sophie Kibuywa started her lecture activities. In the morning, an English-speaking class of the Akademisches Gymnasium in Innsbruck was visited. The students listened intently as Sophie Kibuywa told them about her life and were particularly impressed and shocked by the descriptions of her childhood. For example, Sophie told them that she comes from a family of 14 children, which is why five of them had to share a blanket in bed, and that she received her first shoes when she was 14 and did not know how to walk in them. She also spoke about her cooperation with the MOYO association, which helps raise funds for girls’ education. At the end of the talk, both Sophie Kibuywa and Barbara Messner were bombarded with curious questions ranging from cultural differences to possibilities for help. The conclusion of this morning for the 15-year-old students was that education is still a privilege of the rich in many parts of the world and that girls in particular are often excluded from it.

In the evening, a lecture by Sophie Kibuywa was planned at the university on the topic of “Working for peace, sustainability and justice”, which was a complete success thanks to the cooperation with the MA Gender, Culture and Social Change. In addition to attending the lecture in person, those interested were also able to follow the lecture via livestream, which meant that even viewers from abroad as far as Africa were able to tune in. A detailed Ereport on this event can be found under this Link .

Since winter has finally arrived in Tyrol, a trip to the mountains was a must. Sophie has been to Austria several times before, but this was her first visit in winter. The cold January temperatures and also the snow provide the guest from Africa on the one hand with delight and on the other hand also with a physical challenge, especially as temperatures of 40 degrees are currently prevailing in her home country.

On Wednesday morning, Sophie Kibuywa and Barbara Messner accepted an invitation from Prof. Dr. habil. Belachew Gebrewold, head of the “Social Work” course at the Management Center Innsbruck. Prof. Gebrewold himself comes from a poor background in Ethiopia, but came to Europe more than 20 years ago to study thanks to a scholarship. In the meantime, he can point to an impressive curriculum vitae (details under this Link) with numerous research stays worldwide.

Of course, the lecture at the university and also at the Management Center Innsbruck was more profound than the one at school. Sophie Kibuywa said that she did not want to overburden the young students. Students of the course “Social Work” have already been involved in development policy for several semesters, so the lecture at the University of Applied Sciences was more comprehensive and detailed – besides women’s rights, topics such as human rights, migration and sustainability were also dealt with and constructive solutions were discussed. For Kibuywa, however, the key to all these topics remains education, because only people with education can justify their own opinions and represent them accordingly, fight against existing unjust systems and thus develop a desire for change. Women in particular have a fundamental role to play here, especially since women do most of the work in African families: in addition to household chores and child rearing, field work and animal care are also mainly done by mothers. “If you train or support one woman, you help an entire African family,” says Sophie Kibuywa. Immediately afterwards, she underlined the importance of MOYO’s cooperation and commitment to collecting donations for the education of young girls in Africa.

Promoting and educating girls and women is the first step, but this alone is not enough to bring about essential and sustainable change in African society. It is important for success to get all parties concerned on board, even men must understand that independent and educated women are not a danger but a benefit, from which everyone profits in the long run.

The MOYO association would like to thank you once again for the invitations to various institutions as well as the opportunity to report on the association and also the cooperation with Sophie Kibuywa’s organisation. Many thanks also to all the interested listeners and the many positive feedbacks. We are sure that one or the other cooperation will result from this.

Special thanks go to our sponsor, the province of Tyrol.

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