Genevieve Radnan, 20, is completing a Bachelor of Nursing at AC U’s North Sydney Campus. She is also the founder of Grandma Jenny’s Training Centre in Kenya – which aims to empower local girls and women through education.
After completing high school in 2009, I spent a total of six weeks in Kenya and Tanzania, two of which were on a volunteering teaching and building program.
I loved it so much I returned several months later to Kenya, having raised money at home through my family, friends and local community. To date, I have raised $15,500. The majority went into building my personal project, Karunga’s Emanuel Kindergarten, in the small village where I was living.
Money also went towards educational facilities for the local Karunga’s Primary School, paying school fees for some of the children, and to food and water for the 120 children at New Hope Children’s Centre – an orphanage in Uplands Kenya.
This year I have a new project called Grandma Jenny’s Training Centre, which is to help empower uneducated women and girls in Karunga. I entered an international competition called Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World run by the UN Women of Singapore and MasterCard.
I made it through to the top 10 finalists out of 450 entries, and I was also the youngest. The aim of this competition was to show how you would spend US$25,000 to help empower women and girls in the Asia Pacific, Middle East or Africa.
I submitted a pitch for Grandma Jenny’s Training Centre, which is for girls over the age of 12 who have limited or no education. They will be taught sewing, Basic English and Swahili, mathematics, financial literacy and receive health education and counselling from their local clinic.
I was flown to Singapore for the finals but unfortunately I didn’t win. When I approached the judges for their feedback, mthey said they loved my proposal however I was too young and needed more experience.
I was inspired to open the training centre after meeting a young malnourished boy from Karunga’s Primary School where I was volunteering. I went to visit his family and was shocked to find out that he is one of eight children. His mother is completely uneducated and illiterate and his father was earning less than US$1 a day.
With the fundraising money I had, I bought them food for the remaining five weeks I had there, purchased blankets and mattresses, and sent two of their children to attend kindergarten for two years each.
Unexpectedly their father passed away three weeks ago, which has made me even more determined to help not only this family, but other women in similar circumstances.
By the fourth year of operation, this project would have been able to educate 160 women and girls, and an additional 80 girls would have been able to attend school thanks to their mothers’ income.
My goal is to raise this US$25,000 and prove that you are never too young to make a difference when your heart is in the right place. I want to teach the youth of today that they can impact on the lives of people who are less fortunate.
I used to take education for granted until I realised just how lucky I am to be living in a country where it’s compulsory. If I can get the support of the community I’ve been brought up in, I could reach my goal of $25,000 before I leave for Kenya on 19 November, and help many women and girls who struggle on a daily basis.
No matter how long it takes me, I am going to raise this money, open this training centre, and do everything in my power to help others in need.