Salma is our Person of the Month. May her story inspire you. Every month we spotlight young leaders from our working groups who are doing amazing work in their communities.
Who is Salome?
My name is Salome Njeri Nbugua but I am commonly known as Salma. I hail from Gituamba, a village in Uthiru Ward, Kabete Sub-County, Kiambu County. I come from a family of 5 and am a mother to one beautiful girl.
I am a Nyumba Kumi / community policy member, a Community Health Volunteer(CHV), a youth leader and the chair of the Uthiru Rescue team. I am a young passionate community leader championing social accountability, devolution, youth empowerment and unpaid care & domestic work. I am also a member of the Kiambu County Empowerment Network (KCEN), Youth Bunge, Kiambu Working Group (KRG) where I was voted I am a board member, Kabete Sub County Trainers of Trainers, Uthiru Residents Forum, Uthiru Bunge, the Voice of Uthiru, and the Uthiru Rescue team.
What do you do at Uthiru Rescue Team?
Uthiru rescue team is a fully registered youth group that has been in existence for 4 years now. These are some of the activities we do:
1. First aid at funerals
2. Crowd control
3. Youth empowerment
4. Mentorship for girls
5. Events management /ushering /security
6. Civic education
7. Road safety for children)
8. Rescue from child abuse /violence
I am a rescuer. I started doing this 2 years ago after a few community members came to me to solve the case of a mother who was abusing her own child. Together with the Uthiru Rescue team and a few members of Nyumba Kumi, we tackled the issue. Afterwards, we embarked on rescue missions even for the mentally ill people in the streets.
In 2020 you helped 900 girls get sanitary pads!
Yes, let me give you the background story. In March 2020, we organised a food drive together with the Uthiru residents forum (URF), a community-based CBO. We gave 200 households in Uthiru foodstuff to cushion them against the effects of COVID-19.
During the drive, I came across a few teenage girls who requested I give them a few sanitary pads. And so I did. After the exercise, however, the two gals sought me for a girl-to-gal talk. Through this, I realized they were going through a lot silently.
Moved by their stories, I came back to the platform (URF) to highlight their plight. We started a fund drive that managed to raise over Kshs 50,000 on the platform. Later on, our Member of Parliament (Kabete constituency) Hon. Githua Wamacukuru together with Mheshiwa Eric Warugu Ndung’u, Member of County Assembly for Uthiru supported this initiative.
I loved it even more because men came through in support of this initiative. Together with a few youth groups, we did posters and named the initiative Donate a Pad Support a Girl. This was to enable us to solicit the people we came across—for instance at the roadside and shopping centres—to offer a pad or two.
Our community played a very important role in all this. They did not turn us down when we requested their support. In fact, beyond the 400 vulnerable teenage girls we gave sanitary pads, panties, soap and tissue, we reached 500 more girls.
As I was doing so I started mentorship programs with these girls.
What are you most proud of?
I would say every time I serve my community it gives me satisfaction. Every time I do house-to-house visits as a Community Health Volunteer, I am filled with pride to see the smile I put on someone’s face.
My proudest moment was when I chaired the Donate a Pad to Support a Girl initiative. Seeing the smiles on the girls’ faces as I was restoring dignity to them made me at some point break down.
What challenges do you face in your work?
I face a lot of challenges. Top on the list is:
1. Insecurity: For example when I get a case of a child who goes through abuse /a person who’s got mental issues at times I can’t go alone.
2. Lack of funds for facilitation and purchase of materials is a big problem. When I want to hold seminars for teenagers especially when schools are closed, I facilitate myself, which is challenging.
As the Uthiru Rescue Team, the challenge we face is that there is no rescue centre to take the children or the mentally challenged people we rescue. Besides, in the entire Kabete Sub County, there is no rehabilitation centre. The ones found in other areas are highly expensive. We simply can not afford to take victims there. Some of them do not even know their families. We usually report such cases to the police eg Kabete Police Station and they help in tracing their loved ones.
What message would you give to other young people?
1. Don’t give up.
2. It’s ok to say you are not ok.
3. It’s normal to cry when you feel you want to.
4. Be your own role model
5. Have a mentor
6. Let your NO be NO.
7 Always be confident
8. Your dreams are valid. Start living your dreams today.
Finally, there is this proverb I love so much that states sugarcane is sweet, but you can not swallow it. There are things /people you must spit out of your life, no matter how much you love or are attached to them
Salome did a talk about the girlchild and women on KTN. Please find it here.
You can also follow her on Facebook at Denique Salma Wa Dave.
You can also follow and engage with the Uthiru Rescue Team page.