A new cohort of 91 girls and women engaged in sex work have joined the Shining Star program this year as peer educators.
The ladies received training in sexual health, business and vocational skills, report writing, legal rights and positive parenting, as well as counselling and support for family planning services, HIV testing, and cervical cancer screening.
They in turn have already reached 1,594 of their peers with vital sexual health information.
36-year-old mother of 4, Ebi, tells her story:
"Life has been hard. People called me the one who was “rejected from her marriage” as if I enjoyed a broken marriage.
Before joining Shining Star, I was a maid: the money was peanuts so I turned to sex work. What we are doing now as a cooperative is much better. Even though it’s a group thing, I’m my own boss, and that gives a feeling of self-worth no one can take away from you.
We were lent funding to start a business. On our own, we weren’t in a position to start such a venture. I see myself going far if we continue as the strong team that we are. I now look forward to doing business rather than sex work. From what I have learnt, I can now manage my own money, I am cent conscious.
I have learnt that I should not keep quiet on issues of gender based violence, that communication is key. I have learnt to stand up for the truth and for myself as a woman."