Tag: stories

Catherine’s Story


From Kenya to Australia and Back Again 

by Catherine Methu, Best Foot Forward Ambassador

Catherine Methu

Catherine today with BFF Supporters

The most vulnerable feeling that stands out for me from my schooling days is when the Principal used to hand pick the few students who had not paid their school fees for the term. I always made it on the list. To be told to go home and be denied access to education was saddening and embarrassing as I knew my parents did not have the money. I was 21 when I arrived in Australia with $60 in my wallet. I was feeling very vulnerable being away from my family in a new country, a new culture and not knowing a single person! But looking at the struggles I had left behind, nothing could distract me. I had to breath and take a big leap of faith that all was going to work out well for me despite the challenges I faced. Education was the only thing I had in mind. It was my currency at the time and it still is. This gave me a purpose and Australia gave me a reason to dream. Putting my best foot forward one step at a time, doors opened and I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting. I could never forget where I came from, I couldn’t ignore the challenges I had left behind and I knew at the back of my mind that education was the only thing that was going to set us all free - a tool to empower young girls and women. I never gave up!
The statement “give someone a fish and you feed them for a day; teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime” which I had heard a lot, began to make a lot of sense to me. And educating women has many benefits. For me, I worked hard and eventually helped my siblings and cousin to get the education they rightfully deserved and to also build a future for themselves.
At High School

At High School

Following my studies, I went back to my home country (Kenya) and started a school in my town where I grew up. I wanted to give back to my community and the best way I knew was to give more people access to education. Every girl in this school reminds me of me and my struggles.
My school is Called BEN (Be Educated Now) and right now, I have over 100 students attending the school with all of them coming from very poor households. We have an education program, feeding program and we provide transport to help those children who live a long way away.
I believe there is a need to empower young girls and I use education as a means to uplift and set their path and put my best foot forward for these young individuals.
When the Best Foot Forward team approached me and asked me to be an ambassador, I couldn’t say no. 
I jumped on board because I know of the great work they are doing with their purpose being to support the education of the most vulnerable.
Empowering others is not an easy task. It's not a job for one individual or one organisation. But, if we all put our best foot forward, we will begin to tackle and uplift those who really need it the most.
Let’s not put these girls in the same situation and support the Best Foot Forward initiative to liberate the lives of women and girls through education!
In Her Younger Years

Catherine in her younger years

Last Days before Coming to Australia

Last Days before Coming to Australia

After Finishing Her Studies

After Finishing Her Studies

Mirror of Hope


Women's Empowerment

Mirror of Hope (MOH) runs a women’s empowerment program which is designed to:
  - support women by offering them; health education, practical skills training, financial literacy, life-skills training and entrepreneurship.   - provide training in sustainable urban agriculture methods focusing on the Home Harvest Model where the women are trained on how to construct vertical soil pods (sack gardens) that contain up to 70 individual plants of various varieties and can be easily placed by their door side.
More about Mirror of Hope
Mirror of Hope (MOH) is a community-based organization (CBO), founded in 2010, that is dedicated to enhancing access to education and socio-economic empowerment opportunities for children, youth and women living in Kibera slums, Nairobi, Kenya. For close to a decade the organization has worked with close to 270 women from Kibera, most of who are HIV positive, to get 65 business start-ups, up and running. The organization that is founded on hope and rooted in love, works towards social transformation for communities around Kibera. The context within which MOH works in Kibera is defined by a densely populated slum environment, with poor infrastructure, inadequate social amenities, high level of crime and high rates of unemployment among the youth.
Kibera is a popular informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya with an estimated population of between 500,000 to 700,000 inhabitants (UNHABITAT, 2016). The majority of the inhabitants here are low-income earners and live below 1$ per day and at the same time live in poor living conditions characterized by small shacks normally 12ft x 12ft built with mud walls, screened with concrete, a corrugated tin roof, dirt or concrete floor.
Kibera is continually affected with circles of post-election violence from time to time and remains the epicentre of post-election violence in the country. Kibera is one of the landing areas for those migrating from rural areas to Nairobi city seeking for greener pastures. This continually creates a need that government and other non-profits continually seek to address. The rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence within the slum is also high, compounding problems related to poverty and Government neglect. MOH has 8 staff members and 2 volunteers who deliver the two main projects under education and women empowerment. In addition to this MOH boasts of a pool of volunteers from the partnering organizations such as Nairobits, the local parish, young debater’s society and well-wishers. In addition, MOH relies on the support of various organizations in order to run its program. These include Edmund Rice Foundation Australia, Foundation Le Pont in Canada, Arcaid in Ireland, N’give in Denmark, 99 Bikes, in Australia, Adventure Out Loud in Australia, Youth Out loud in Australia, Project Harambee in the USA, Rutgers University in the USA and individual supporters across the globe. In future, MOH would like to provide training in other important vocational skills such as peanut processing, cake baking, yoghurt making, tailoring, embroidery and hairdressing as well as expanding and bettering the already existing programs to reach even more clients.

Sharon’s story


"After struggling for 19 years with a disability, no primary education and no one to provide her with emotional support, Sharon turned to the Centre for help. She was given crutches to move around and has found hope to pursue her dream to start her own business.

As a young woman living with a disability in Papua New Guinea, Sharon did not get the opportunity to complete her primary education. She became disabled after a sporting injury affect her hip joints and despite seeking medical attention, the doctors were unable to assist her.
After struggling for 19 years, Sharon needed emotional support and assistance with her condition and she turned to the ERFA funded Saiho Community Based Rehabilitation Learning Centre for help. Through her time at the centre she has gained independance and now wants to break the cycle of dependence and live an independent life like a " normal" person.

She has found hope to pursue her dream which is to start her own business and believes the Centre is a ‘vehicle’ to help her to achieve this goal.
About the Saiho Community Based Rehabilitation Learning Centre 
Saiho CBR Learning Centre is a rural based Centre that people with disabilities can turn to for physical care. However, education and support is needed especially for those who encounter a disability for the first time. Through your help, we can fund the centre further that will assist to train volunteers with learning sign language, physiotherapy, and developing a support network and disability specific target programs.

Cynthia’s Story


Cynthia lives with HIV/AIDS and joined the Mirror of Hope (MOH) Women’s Empowerment Program in 2011. Through the program, Cynthia received psycho-social support and education.

Importantly, Cynthia also received business training which was instrumental in providing the skills to run a successful business and to acquire a small loan. Prior to joining the Mirror of Hope Women’s Empowerment Program, Cynthia was constantly begging for food and handouts. She was also suffering various ailments as a result of her HIV status. Through sharing with other women in the program and finding the best counselling through her program peers, Cynthia now enjoys good health and at the same time has had her dignity restored through being able to create a means of living in her business selling fish. Another advantage of the program was that Cynthia was able to place her children in the MOH school holiday program thereby ensuring they were cared for during term break.

Cynthia reports that her life as a Mirror of Hope member is one of joy and hope. She believes that without the program she would not have been able to stand on her own feet. Her training has assisted her in managing a successful business that caters for basic family needs such as food, rent and clothing. Cynthia is also saving money in her Mirror of Hope savings and lending peer group. Cynthia’s goal is to buy land and build a house for her family. She believes that through the support of staff and peers in the Mirror of Hope Women’s Empowerment Program, she will one day have a home she can call her own.