David Omondi, Riley Orton Foundation on ROF x TFE partnership
Riley Orton Foundation org (ROF) is a grassroots non profit org based in Kisumu Kenya. We envision girls and a community with the agency to realize their full potential. Our mission is to alleviate generational poverty amongst the most disadvantaged and marginalized rural girls and families through the provision of holistic programming focussed on Education, Health & Wellness, Economic empowerment and life skills training in order to provide rural girls and families with the agency to make sustainable changes for self sufficiency.
ROF has been partnering with Tailored For Education Org (TFE) to provide school uniforms; a barrier that holds marginalized rural girls back from accessing education and achieving their full potential. From the humble beginnings of making and supplying school uniforms to 75 girls at Akili Preparatory School in August 2014, we have supplied school uniforms to about 4,000 students from 10 local schools in Kisumu and Siaya Counties in Western Kenya. We have also impacted over 42 young women and men working as tailors in 7 businesses/tailoring shops in our community enabling them to earn income to sustain their families.
The school uniforms have been life changing for hundreds of students especially girls living in extreme poverty. Girls who were previously shy have reported improved self esteem/confidence, reduced absenteeism and have also taken up leadership roles at their respective schools. Some students have worn toughees shoes for the first time in their lives! The uniforms have brought uniformity and a sense of community to students coming from different backgrounds allowing them to see each other as equal and to concentrate in class and improve their test scores.
For every set of full school uniform we provide, parents contribute $1 to $10 to support our Hold a Girls’ Hand initiative; a gender transformative program that aims to reduce and totally eliminate the high absenteeism rates of rural girls who miss school because they lack school uniforms, food, school fees, or during their menses, reduce sexual and gender based violence, bolster self esteem and improve sexual and reproductive health rights among rural adolescent girls.
Through this initiative, we have distributed over 6,000 packets of sanitary pads and held sexual and reproductive health awareness sessions with the students we support. As a result, cases of girls missing school during their menses have declined. Some girls who hitherto resorted to transactional sex for sanitary pads, food and underwear have also reduced.
In some schools like Akili Preparatory School for girls, money contributed by parents has supported the school feeding program, allowing the girls to get 3 nutritious meals daily.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, many families lost their jobs and sources of livelihood. Schools were suspended and our tailors were out of business as well. ROF partnered with TFE to not only provide food parcels to families of our students but also protect our community and put our tailors back to business by making and distributing over 5,000 reusable face masks.
It has been an amazing 7 years of partnership with TFE and we are very grateful to TFE for partnering with us to remove all the barriers that prevent needy rural girls from accessing basic education as well as the resources and support system they need to thrive and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Thank you so much for your commitment to increase school enrollment for our students and creating jobs by investing in locally made school uniforms.
David, Founder ROF