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Beldina Onyango

Director, Pamoja Projects Intern. Kenya

Bold Question: What if sex was a choice and not a means of survival for young girls in Kisumu?

Pathway to Metis: Growing up in an environment where community spirit was greatly upheld, Beldina traces her roots back to a small village in Kisumu County. The more she progressed in life, the more she noticed the diverse social groups that emerged as a result of the different challenges adolescents and young adults faced. This motivated her to make a difference for her peers and those before her through community development and human rights activism working with both local and international NGOs in Kenya in different capacities for positive change in her area.

Working with vulnerable communities in informal settlements and peri-urban areas and engaging in research and social development fuelled her interest in adolescent girls and young women’s empowerment. With almost 2 decades of experience working with different state and non-state actors, Beldina has used her knowledge to address issues of socio-economic empowerment and the fight for sexual reproductive health rights.

Her tipping point came while she was working on Rescue, Rehabilitating and Reintegrating (3 R's) for street and street related children, where she got an opportunity to work closely with girls who were involved in transactional sex directly and indirectly. Upon hearing the plight of the young girls, she knew she had to take positive action; action that would uplift the young girls through life skills training incorporated with social and economic empowerment towards offering them an alternative source of employment. At that point, Pamoja Projects Kenya was born.

Just like her upbringing that focused a lot on community and togetherness, Pamoja Projects coins its name from a desire to bring community members together through participatory approaches to develop their capacities and improve on their social economic status. They aim to improve the life circumstances of the vulnerable children and youth through integrated approaches focusing on socio-economic empowerment and advocacy. As the founder, Beldina's dream is to make a difference in the life of children and youth to enable them realize their full potential.

“We educate women because it is smart. We educate women because it changes the world” – Drew Faust

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