Ann Thuku- Secretary, Mauntan Women Group.
Ann Thuku, a resilient member of the Mauntan Women Group in Miritini ward, Jomvu sub-county, Mombasa County, has emerged as a beacon of hope and change within her community. Ann’s inspiring journey is a testament to the transformative power of civic education and community engagement. She, along with her fellow group members, has been on a remarkable path of empowerment and positive change, all thanks to the Kwacha Afrika’s Civic Education Training sessions under the Tuyazungumuze Community Initiative through the SPARKe program, supported by Uraia Trust and DANIDA.
Before the Mauntan Women Group was administered the civic education training, life in Miritini ward was marked by numerous challenges. The group, primarily focusing on supporting young women with business loans, faced a myriad of issues that plagued their community. Gender-Based Violence (GBV), lack of access to entrepreneurial opportunities, and limited civic engagement were just a few of the pressing concerns. However, Ann Thuku and her fellow group members were determined to turn things around.
The Mauntan Women Group’s transformative journey began with Kwacha Afrika’s Civic Education Training sessions. Ann vividly recalls the impact of this training on her life and the group’s mission.
She states, “The training opened our eyes to the fundamental principles of our democracy. We learned about the Bill of Rights, citizen participation, the importance of devolution, and constitutionalism. These were not just words; they were the keys to unlocking change in our community.”
Ann Thuku’s newfound understanding of civic engagement was a turning point in her life. She began to see the importance of actively participating in her community’s affairs.
“Before the training,” she says, “I felt like our voices were unheard, and our concerns were often ignored. But now, we understand that we have a vital role to play in shaping our community’s destiny.”
With knowledge came action. The Mauntan Women Group, under Ann’s leadership, initiated various civic actions aimed at addressing critical issues within their ward. They tackled insecurity head-on by submitting their written concerns to the area chief and ward administrator which culminated on arrests of criminal elements as well as establishment of security lights by the county government in some of the affected areas within our ward.
They also confronted corruption and segregation within the village administration.
Ann explains, “We realized that some village elders were perpetuating corrupt practices and discriminating against certain community members. We used our newfound knowledge to demand transparency and fairness, which led to the removal of one of the village elders within the ward.”
One of the most significant challenges they faced was the prevalence of child rape within the ward. Ann recalls, “Child rape was a dark stain on our community. Children were suffering in silence, and we couldn’t stand by anymore, school going girls were being affected by this issue.”
The Mauntan Women Group, armed with their civic education training, joined forces with local child protection agencies and law enforcement to raise awareness about child abuse and advocate for harsher penalties for perpetrators in which a few perpetrators were arrested and currently are serving jail terms.
The journey was not without its challenges. Ann and her group encountered resistance and push back from those who resisted change.
“We faced threats and intimidation,” she says, “but we knew we couldn’t back down. We leaned on each other for support and sought guidance from our civic educators and local leaders.”
The support from Kwacha Afrika’s civic educator, who had become a trusted ally, was invaluable.
Ann Thuku envisions a future where her community continues to thrive through civic engagement and education. She sees a community where every voice is heard, where justice prevails, and where the welfare of every citizen is prioritized.
“The long-term benefits of the civic education training are immeasurable,” Ann reflects. “Our group is more united and resilient than ever. We are inspiring other community members to join us in this journey of transformation.”
Ann’s story is a testament to the power of knowledge, determination, and collective action. Through civic education, she and the Mauntan Women Group have brought about tangible change in their community, addressing issues that once seemed insurmountable. Their journey reminds us that with the right tools and unwavering commitment, we can empower individuals and transform communities for the better.