Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) combats gender inequality and extreme poverty in urban slums by linking tuition free schools for girls to holistic social services for all, making a girls’ school a portal of social change. Today, we transform urban communities. Tomorrow, we create the next generation of female leaders.
The innovation in SHOFCO’s model holds that girls’ education and an increase in female leadership is the key to improving gender equality, which, in turn, is the key to breaking the cycles of urban poverty. Our schools for girls serve as a long-term investment in transformative leadership. We identify and develop a generation of strong, ethical, community-centered female leaders with the power to change their communities and country. Our commitment to girls begins at the age of 4 and never ends. SHOFCO is dedicated to supporting our girls through university and connecting them to opportunities to grow as leaders.
A grassroots movement is one in which a community is invested and takes a leadership role in its own future. Kennedy Odede’s experience growing up in Kibera imparted a deep, organic understanding of the realities facing urban slum dwellers. He witnessed the ingenuity and industriousness of the people of Kibera amidst incredible hardships. SHOFCO deeply believes in empowering a community by giving it tools and opportunities to build its own bright future.
With over 190 local employees who lead and implement all of SHOFCO’s programs, SHOFCO is the largest employer in Kibera. From teachers at the Kibera School for Girls, to doctors and nurses at the Community Clinic, to gender-based violence case workers, to the youth who collect our robust community data, the people of Kibera are drivers of their own community development and empowerment. As we expand to new communities it is always at the invitation of local stakeholders, and local leadership and drive is central.
One isolated development initiative (e.g. a free clinic, a clean water project) cannot singlehandedly lift a community out of poverty. SHOFCO’s model is holistic; our programs tackle urban poverty through an integrated approach that recognizes the multifaceted and interconnected needs of the urban poor. While our schools for girls nurture the next generation of female leaders able to enact long-term systemic change, our community, water and sanitation and health programs address the immediate needs of the community. Our economic empowerment programs increase economic opportunity and financial stability. Our clinic provides high quality primary care and women’s and children’s health services, enabling residents to lead productive lives. Gender violence eradication initiatives ensure women are protected and valued.
Mothers of our students enroll in group savings and loans; husbands attend adult literacy classes; older brothers play on our youth soccer teams; acquaintances bring their infants to our free clinic. In a virtuous circle, SHOFCO transforms the entire community.