Saving families through the Family Matters Program!
The Family Matters Program! (FMP) is one of the evidence-based interventions under the DREAMS project – an ambitious public-private partnership to reduce rates of HIV among adolescent girls and young women. LVCT Health started implementing DREAMS- in 2017 targeting vulnerable adolescent girls and young women within informal settlements in Nairobi, Kiambu, Migori and Homabay counties. One of these informal settlements is Kiandutu, which is among the largest and fastest-growing informal settlements within Thika Municipality, Kiambu county.
Kiandutu slum comprises ten villages and has a huge population of adolescent girls and young women, whose parents are poor and are mostly absent as they fend for their families. Hence the family matters program was an ideal intervention in Kiandutu started to help sensitize parents on the need to build better relations with their children. LVCT-Health works with mentors and facilitators to penetrate and reach out to the Kiandutu villages.
The FMP intervention aims to train educate and equip parents with life skills on parenthood, parent-child relationships, communication skills, peer pressure, and how to end Gender-Based Violence. The intervention is led by community facilitators who are trained and equipped with materials to engage the parents within their communities.
Mr. John Otiti, is one of the certified facilitator at Kiandutu, he meets with the parents for 3 hours six times a week. “Since the program began, I have noted a drastic change of attitude and character of the parents. witnessing their feedback and confidence in addressing parental and life issues with their teenage children makes me feel a fulfilled person,” shares Otiti.
According to Mary Ndungú, the LVCT Health, Kiandutu site in charge, “the program also offers advice and training on marriage, sex-related questions, child upbringing, contraceptives, sexual and reproductive health issues. Initially, the communities held onto deep cultural norms that did not allow girls to go to school. Others were married off when young, and the community would record many rape cases that were never resolved. The FMP intervention equips the community with knowledge by starting at the family level.”
Peter Kariuki, a 50-year-old father of three teenage girls, confesses that the program has helped him understand how to communicate with his family and manage their emotional and financial needs. “DREAMS has helped pay my children’s school fees. I have seen my girls empowered in their academics, discipline, and now they are role models to other girls. Through skills learnt from FMP, I can now initiate open conversations with my family on matters I was shy about previously.”
Beth Wambui, a 40-year-old mother of two daughters, confesses that she can now offer counseling to her children after gaining confidence and support through the teaching of FMP. “Ï have learned to sit down and hold open conversations with my children and friends. My children are now different. However, I would really like the program to consider supporting our sons who have become unruly and addicted to drugs in our community. “Added Beth.
Story and photo by Rebecca Musanga