Lecture Sophie Kibuywa “Commitment to peace, sustainability and justice”
Ms Sophie Elizabeth Kibuywa used her trip to Europe to visit various project partners, including our association MOYO in Innsbruck. It was important for MOYO that not only the members of the association have the opportunity to talk to Ms Kibuywa, so a lecture was organised for Tuesday, 24 January 2023, at the University of Innsbruck. This lecture was organised together with our partner, the Master’s programme Gender, Culture and Social Change – our special thanks go to Ms Maria Furtner. We would also like to thank the province of Tyrol for the funding, which makes the work and support of the girls on site much easier.
After a short introduction on the motivation of the association and background information on Kenya and the Bungoma region in particular, the needs of the girls on site were discussed. It was explained why education is so important, especially for girls and women in this region. In Kenya, children are only allowed to go to school if they have the money for school fees, school uniforms, shoes and learning materials. Mostly, only the boys are allowed to go to school, as the opinion prevails that girls and women do not need education and that this is wasted money. This is exactly where the MOYO association comes in and collects donations for those girls whose families cannot afford the money for school.
Be So Free and Romero Prize winner Sophie Kibuywa has talked about her life and her need to help people. Her work led to her being so badly injured due to a brutal assault that she still feels the effects today. Thanks to the help of a project partner from Austria, she was able to leave Kenya after the assault and receive the first necessary medical treatment. Friends from Canada had arranged for her to receive medical care in Canada for a year after this initial phase in Austria, so that she could recover. Sophie Kibuywa decided to return to her home country and found an organisation to bring change to a very poor region, despite the danger that something could happen to her again. With the organisation DESECE (Development Education Services for Community Empowerment), she has built a training centre with a guest house with the help of Brother and Hardest in Need and other partner organisations. The local population is trained there in human rights issues and organic farming, among other things.
Sophie Kibuywa’s own experiences have made her realise how important education is, especially for girls and women. Not only in terms of independence and self-determination for women, there is much more at stake here. Education, especially vocational training, enables women to feed themselves and their families and to build a small livelihood. Family planning is another part that is very important, because the more children the poorer the family and the fewer chances for the children’s future. One of Sophie Kibuywa’s guiding principles is “When one woman gets education, a whole family is helped.” The MOYO association has taken this motto to heart and therefore supports girls with the donations so that they can receive an education and thus contribute to the transformation of society.
Education also contributes to the democratisation of a country, which is extremely important, especially in a country with 40 different ethnic groups. For Sophie Kibuywa, education for girls and women is particularly important, but men must not be forgotten. Only together is a change for the better possible for all. For example, Sophie Kibuywa told us that because of training for men and women, the elections in the summer of 2022 passed off without riots and fighting in her region. She reported that the trained young men were suddenly no longer seen as troublemakers but as people who were accepted and respected by all sides because they did a good job. She further tells that riots often arose because of boredom and fear and anger. The trained men have helped to talk to each other more and so instead of violence, the focus is now on conversation.
We thank Sophie Kibuywa for her very interesting talk and the valuable insights into her life and work. We are looking forward to hopefully many more reports and wish Sophie much joy and energy for her work.
We would also like to thank all those who attended the lecture online or were present for their interest and the many questions during the discussion.
We thank everyone for their donation.
Special thanks go to our sponsor, the province of Tyrol.
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