TURNING KILIFI'S LITERACY SCALE UPWARDS.
TURNING KILIFI'S LITERACY SCALE UPWARDS.
|ELIZABETH ZIRO IN A RED TSHIRT DURING THE BOOK DRIVE EVENT (photo credit Elcaboos )|
“A small good deed is better than a thousand good intentions.” The famous saying has given strength to Elizabeth Ziro, a wife and a mother of two children, who is an accountant by profession a volunteer, an advocate of literacy and child rights affairs
As she walks towards Beaumont Resort apartments, the venue of our interview in Mtwapa, Kilifi County, the vibrant straight talking young woman with a killer smile ushers me in saying “karibu ndani”with radiant smile, asher arms envelop me in a hug.
We move into a restaurant chatting about one of their very first beneficiaries, Henry, who has just graduated from CAP - YEI, a youth empowerment institution.
“I met Henry last year while on the verge of dropping out of school in Form Four,” she noted adding that he comes from a disadvantaged family and that his father died long time ago , now survived by her sicklingmother to fend for the family.
These challenges, Ziro noted, affected the student academically as he had to stay at home for a full term due to school fees arrears.
“I opted to share his story on Facebook and I received overwhelming support
from well-wishers and this enabled me to take him back to school,’’said Ziro.
An education advocate and volunteer, Ziro has seen the negative impact of
Illiteracy in Kilifi County wheregirls are likely to get married prematurely or opting to work as house-helps in major cities in Kenya rather than pursuing education. Thus most families are forced to live in abject poverty.
Ziro saw the urgent need and decided to step in to assist vulnerable and disadvantaged students to access and continue with their education. She has also provided school necessities such as geometrical sets, uniforms, sanitary pads to more than 1, 000 students
Under Kilifi County Mentorship Programme for Form Four leavers, she has
Positively influenced and guided the youth to approach life through
Entrepreneurship skills, as they prepare themselves for life outside high school in their career pursuit.
Book drives and book clubs has also been her way of encouraging the reading
culture in Kilifi County. ‘’I believe in encouraging youth to develop reading culture,” she says. As she launched the very first ReadingCompetition in Kilifi County.
Ziro has continued to receive calls and messages through the social media from youth and parents who are in need of her assistance and support in different counties.
"I once received a call from Taita Taveta County asking me if i can extend our mentorship forum to the county, she said.
Through her volunteer work, Ziro has been selected as a BoardMember to Wings to FlyScholarship Foundation Committee and is the Chairperson of Kenya
Scouting Association, Kilifi South Constituency.
She is also working directly with girls to empower them in the bid to end Teenpregnancy and early marriages in Kilifi County, where she recently rescued a17 years old girl with 3children married to a 65yrs old man in Adu, magarini sub-county, KilifiCounty.
Ihave been interviewed severallyon a community radio station, Lulu
FM,inthis way,a number of girls in school and those who have dropped outreached out on how I could assist them in achieving their dreams. Despite the challenges all have made me so proud, amongst them a girl who opted to do Automobile and more so I can’t forget a class eight 2014 drop out who said to me “naaminisitatangatangatena”, narrates the ambassador of hope to the hopeless.
One of her greatest satisfaction in her mentorship journey is when she rescued a 14-year-old girl who was to be married off with consent of the father.
The girl who had scored 345 marks in KCPE in 2017 was hopeless and helpless but after word on her plight spread in thevillage, she was rescued.
It is the awareness and enlightenment through the mentorship programme conductedin the community that she found this precious angel who approached her with a sad face. “After a one-on-one chat, I realised the girl was intelligent and ready to pursueher dream in education, ’’she narrated.
However, Ziro could not take up the matter before seeing the parents.
According to her, the girl was being married off by the father who could not
raisethe money for her daughter’s education.The girl is now in a boarding school in Kilifi, after that escape.
The ever smiling advocate explains how happy she feels after putting a mark on an innocent girl’s life.
Kilifi County has recorded a bigger percentage of underage pregnancies in Coast region.
Consequently, Ziro has taken it upon herself to motivate such girls who
unknowingly find themselves in the trap.
She works closely with young mothers in Kilifi County to motivate and
empower them economically.
Ziro takes such girls for training in culinary arts (dressmaking, hairdressing among other courses), to be able to start their own businesses after training so to feed for their families.
She was also able to rescue a five-year-old girl who never went to a pre-school due to the family’s financial challenges. The girl survived by a single mother who sells vegetables in the village to provide for the family of seven children, after the husband died.
How do you do all this?I posed a question and she said she sells t-shirts, mugs, umbrellas embossed with the logo of their foundation “Smiles of hope Kenya ".
But as the interview progresses, calls and text messages keep on interrupting our conversation.Curious to know, she tells me that beneficiaries, well-wishers and needy girls are always calling her either to assist or ask for assistance.She says most of them look at her as their mother.
Through the organization which she started in 2015,she aims to build confidence and self-esteem among children and end early child marriages in Kilifi County and beyond.
Ziro who is an alumnus of Technical University of Mombasa reveals that funds are the major challenge that frustrates the education of many children, especially in rural areas.
She decries lack of funds to pay professionals to conduct the Mentorship Programmes effectively, saying they still depend on volunteers.
Her passion is to inspire, motivate and encourage more people to take up voluntary work.