Maro Itoje visits Team Talk in rural Kenya

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Last week Atlas trustee (and England and British Lions legend) Maro Itoje spent some time with children in Kenya, seeing the impact our local partner Team Talk is having on children’s lives.

In the second half of the week, Maro, and Atlas CEO Boris and film director Victoria visited children at Ethi Primary school, a remote school in rural Kenya, to meet with the children there. During the visit, they saw how Team Talk manages their sessions – many of these children are incredibly poor, with only 10% of families having any kind of financial income, the rest live off the land and most children have only one meal a day.

Strict cultures of gender based inequality is embedded in many of these communities, pushing girls and women’s rights to the margins of society and creating cycles of generational deprivation. Most of the children are 12-17 years of age, making it a scary and often confusing time, especially for the girls who have no access to female hygiene products and navigate puberty, relationships, and intimacy in shame and isolation. A third of girls will drop out of school due to child pregnancy and marriage.

Our local partners Team Talk have offered them a lifeline. They only help communities that have asked them to come, offering advice and guidance for communities but allowing them to change and adjust themselves. Sessions at schools are split into classroom sessions first, offering children the chance to ask anonymous questions in a safe environment. The boys and girls are separated, being educated on topics of respect, hygiene, and growing up and are encouraged to talk about any fears they have.

They are then bought together outside for team building and trust exercises, learning to support and trust each other. As the boys have a greater understanding of the girls, their respect for them grows and with it, the girl’s lives start to improve. Tolerance grows to acceptance and the young boys and girls start to play and work together. The final session is back in the classroom where the children share what they have learnt.

Their lives remain challenging, but thanks to Atlas’s support, their situations are changing. The girls are becoming empowered to ask questions and use their voices. Rates of child marriage and pregnancy are starting to fall and the girls and boys are being offered their childhoods back, learning to get along and respect each other.

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