The East African Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children

Education

The East African Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (EAC) is a non-profit organization that helps communities in Kenya achieve empowerment by increasing literacy for women and children, improving health status, and eradicating poverty.
The organization was started in September 2000 by Founder and former Executive Director, Suzanne Wilson to provide shelter and clothing to orphans living on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. It began as the Kenya Kids AIDS Project (KKAP), but has since grown to promote a proactive strategy of poverty eradication, aimed at supporting women and children, and keeping families intact.

 

Since the beginning, the EAC has promoted community involvement, partnerships and the participation of village members and leaders. In August 2001, EAC Founder and Executive Director Suzanne Wilson met with leaders and village members of Takaungu to discuss the possibility of future projects there. The village council expressed a strong desire to work with the organization, and the team conducted a participatory rural appraisal between January and April 2002. From this appraisal, the EAC listened to the needs of the community and began planning several programs to respond to them. In particular, the community wanted a nursery school for their children, educational programs for adults, training to develop marketable skills, and health information and services.

The EAC continues to use community participation as a tool to monitor and evaluate our current programs and to reach out to neighboring communities to assess their needs. Through several ongoing health and education programs, the EAC has been working to support the needs of the community. This has included constructing the first permanent classroom of the Vuma Primary School in 2002 and constructing the Vutakaka Community Center in Takaungu with the help of volunteers, workers from the local community and international volunteers. In August 2003 the EAC established the Vutakaka Self-Help Group (a registered community-based organization in Kenya), comprised of 20 local residents, to plan and oversee the operations of the Vutakaka Community Center. In December of the same year, it started the Vutakaka Sewing Club to help local residents learn marketable tailoring skills, and in January 2004, the EAC setup a primary school, adult education classes, after-school training, health education classes and health library, and the Farmer’s Field School.

In June 2009, a team of graduate students: Breona Gutschimdt, Emma Neirman and Cecila Jezek from the University of Washington, and Jen Hill, Priyanka Rao and Bryan Isom from the New School, were awarded a grant from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). Some of the team participated in a training in Rwanda with other groups that were awarded this grant and delivered 100 laptops for the Vutakaka Junior School (VJS) students.

Through their community education and health work in Kenya, the EAC has demonstrated the importance of international networks of passionate volunteers and activists to alleviate the impact of the socieconomic climate with the right kinds of community-based support.

EAC and the  New School

Current EAC US Program Director Jen Hill graduated from the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA) in May 2009. While pursuing her MA, she participated in the International Field Program in Takaungu, Kenya where she worked as an intern with the EAC in the summer of 2008. She continued to work for the organization upon returning to the US, helping with their website and student sponsorship and in January 2009 was asked to be the Board President. By May 2009, she was offered a full-time position with the organization and now serves as the US Program Director. After being awarded a grant for $10,000 and 100 laptops from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) in June 2009, she found two GPIA students to lead the deployment and training in the village. Priyanka Rao and Bryan Isom spent 10 weeks at the EAC’s Vutakaka Junior School introducing the laptops to three classrooms of students.

The Kenya Program Director, Kate Crowley, is also a GPIA alumni. Nat Katin-Borland, a GPIA alumni from 2009, and Tricia Petruney, A GPIA alumni from 2008, are both Board of Directors and GPIA Professor, Mark Johnson, is a former EAC Board member.

Each year, groups of GPIA students work on a different project for the organization in their practicum course or through an International Field Program. One group of students helped the EAC receive a grant that resulted in the building of their clinic, which has continued to deepen and strengthen in the past 8 years and now serves a community of over 15,000 people.

Learn More

For internship and other inquiries, contact Jen Hill: jhill@eastafricancenter.org

 

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