Grabbing the Opportunity: Maurine Atieno Opiyo April 30, 2015  by      

By: Stella Sigana, Head of CFK’s Economic and Entrepreneurship Department

Maurine - Kick for Kibera Photo Project

Maurine participating in the 2014 Kick for Kibera Cultural Exchange Photo Project.

Maurine learned early on that when a good opportunity presents itself, you ought to take it. Now one of the first members of CFK’s new Work Readiness Program to find steady, formal employment, she is encouraging other young people to take advantage of rising opportunities in the community.

So how did she get started with CFK? A friend of hers thought she would be interested in joining Daughters United (Binti Pamoja), CFK’s girls’ program that seeks to provide adolescent girls with a space in which to express themselves creatively, learn about and discuss issues they face in the community, and build practical and artistic skills. When Maurine heard about CFK in 2005, she was 16 and had lived in Kibera since she was 4. Married with one child, she had heard of many organizations serving the Kibera community, but didn’t know how she would find the time to get involved. Despite this, her friend encouraged her to join, emphasizing how important it was for herself and for her community. Following her friend’s advice, Maurine went ahead and applied to join the program and was accepted.

While in Daughters United, Maurine was very determined and ready to learn. After 2 years of participating in the program, her commitment to the group’s activities was evident. As a result, the leaders chose her to be the program’s Field Event Planner! Maurine performed brilliantly in her new role, always meeting deadlines on time and naturally connecting socially with girls in the program. She also became very involved in CFK’s Sports Association, leading workshops for teams of both boys and girls.

Over the years, Maurine became very plugged in to CFK’s network of programs. When the Economic and Entrepreneurship Department announced the launch of the Work Readiness Program to help young people in Kibera prepare for and locate formal work opportunities, Maurine didn’t hesitate and applied right away. Upon demonstrating her accomplishments through Daughters United, it was clear that Maurine was a great candidate for the program and she was selected to be part of the pilot group!

Work Readiness Launch [slide size]

The first cohort of participants in the Work Readiness Program at the program’s launch.

The Work Readiness Program seeks to equip determined young Kiberans interested in formal sector jobs with the skills and training necessary for work in those fields. Activities include trainings on topics like office skills and resume writing.  The program also helps prospective job candidates finish certificate or diploma courses that provide technical training in specific industries. For example, Maurine is a proud holder of a high school diploma, something she earned after saving money for years. An astute student, she wanted to continue her education through a certificate course in social development but found that she was unable to afford the matriculation fees. The Work Readiness program, seeing the value in this kind of certification, stepped in to help.

And the investment paid off: upon completing her course in December 2014, she has secured employment with Elvees Electrical Limited, a company that supplies electrical equipment and installation services for computer centers. Maurine works in their customer service division, which means she gets to put her people skills she gained from leading Daughters United trainings to use!

Because of Maurine’s eagerness to grasp good opportunities that come her way, she is now proudly earning a steady income. She has promised to begin saving in order to continue her education, which will help her empower her family and her community to ensure others have access to vital knowledge and skills. Maurine envisions a poverty-free society where everybody can find opportunities to help them and their families live prosperously. With her determination, she’s already well on her way.

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