USW graduate starts new life at Kenyan orphanage

Jenny Roach Kenya

A Gwent woman is helping make a difference to orphaned girls in Kenya after graduating from the University of South Wales (USW).

Jenny Roach, from Newport, has been appointed Executive Director of Hekima Place, a home for orphaned and vulnerable girls in Kajiado County, south of Nairobi.

The home currently cares for 90 girls, ranging in age from seven months to 27 years, providing care and educational support for young women from a wide range of backgrounds.

As well as graduates in computer studies and law, and a qualified air hostess, a further 21 girls are studying degree courses and technical diplomas in subjects ranging from pharmaceuticals and community development, to catering, guidance and counselling.

“We truly help these girls to fulfil their dreams in a way that will not only benefit them, but will improve Kenya,” said Jenny, who graduated last year with a Masters in Global Governance, having previously studied Youth and Community Work at USW.

“Two of our students, who are sisters, have now started their own NGO in one of the slums of Nairobi, assisting teenage mothers to access education by providing school fees and a daycare centre for their children.

“Their work makes me so proud, and it is truly inspiring to see the difference they are now making and the lives they are impacting, because of the opportunities we have given them when they found themselves alone and in need.”

As part of her role, Jenny manages 27 staff and is responsible for the well-being and progress of all the girls in her care. This can include anything from policy writing to reading bedtime stories, and risk management to cooking supper – and even overseeing the seven acres of farmland that belongs to the home, on which they grow their own vegetables and rear chickens and cows.

Jenny added: “My job is like no other I have experienced. I am so grateful to the teaching staff on both the Youth and Community Work and Global Governance courses at USW for providing me with the knowledge, experience, confidence and strength to overcome every challenge that is placed in front of me, as the head of this incredible organisation and family.”

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