Happiness Ndanu, a fourth year food science and technology student in Kimathi, has been nominated for the Kotex #SheCan awards. She is the founder of Kijana Jasiri Foundation, which fights for better mental health among the youth. Influencer had the following interview with her:
1. Who is Happiness Ndanu?
Happiness is a bold extrovert that is so generous when it comes to giving back to the society. When it comes to helping people overcome mental health issues & spreading awareness, she gives it her all. Apart from that she loves cooking.
2. Tell us about KJF?
Kijana jasiri Foundation is a Non-Profit Organization based in Kenya that mainly creates mental health awareness among teenagers and youths across different counties. We normally use one on one mentorship sessions and’ our social media platforms to spread the word plus we partner with psychologists and psychiatrists who come through on the professional bit.
3. That’s an excellent initiative especially in this age of depressed youth. I had this idea when I first heard the name Kijana that it’s an organization for championing male mental health.
Ooh no… Kijana means a youth whereas Jasiri is “being brave” so in short Kijana Jasiri is a brave youth. It’s only that kwa mtaa we refer to the male gender as “vijana”
4. What prompted you to start KJF?
I was born with a rare condition called short leg discrepancy… As my body developed the condition became more and more visible & unfortunately I didn’t clearly understand what was happening with my body.. I went through body shaming scenarios in my primary & high school life which later on led to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
It was hard to explain what I was going through since my friends didn’t clearly understand these mental issues. Well, long story short, I got help (that’s counseling) which happened many years down the line. My life story is the reason behind the founding of Kijana Jasiri. Once we create more awareness then it’s going to be easy for people to open up, seek help and share their stories before it’s too late.
5. When did you start KJF and how has it performed so far?
It kicked off last year May 2020.
Well so far so good… The foundation has gone through so many challenges and successes… one of the major successes is the #jasirimentalwarriors campaign. We have also managed to facilitate a full day awareness session in Thika Library where we spoke to over 500 youths among many others. About the failures, I’d refer to them as slowing down scenarios in life which were more of learning opportunities cause… Ni mingi btw running a foundation isn’t easy more so on the financial bit.
6. Speaking of the financial bit, how have you been able to cope?
At this point we really get into our pockets to facilitate for the activities.
Plus the donations we get from well wishers come in handy.
7. How is KJF coping now that there is restriction of movement and meetings due to Corona?
We’ve definitely been affected by the pandemic! We have had to adapt to new ways of spreading awareness. We normally have our weekly discussions on our WhatsApp group & on 4th June we’ll kick off an Instagram & Facebook live sessions called “Mental Optimism” where we’ll host different guests who are vocal about how they overcame different mental health issues.
8. Tell us about the #jasirimentalwarriors campaign.
The campaign involved writing our toxic traits on paper and burning the papers as a way of showing that we’re letting go of the negativity. It was based on the fact that we usually drag around problems for years and they impact negatively on our mental health. Making a conscious decision to let go of these burdens is normally the first step to recovery. KJF held this campaign on Facebook and IG.
9. What plans do you have for the foundation?
Once I am done with school, my main goal will be traveling to other counties to spread the word… Saa hii juu ya shule huwa simanage kuenda mbali sana.
10. Will you still work for the foundation when you are done with school?
I actually decided to see kama naweza toboa during hii time ya attachment… It’s somehow tricky but I always found myself dedicating my weekends to this… I’ll find a way through it.
11. Getting nominated for the #SheCan awards. That’s a big deal especially considering that you are one of the youngest nominees. Tell us about that.
The nomination is a big deal to me. I was nominated by friends and family. The #PeriodOrNotSheCan awards mostly recognizes ladies aged between 18-35 years who are currently making an impact in the society. I managed to be shortlisted among the top 18 nominees. So right now I’m seeking votes from people ndio I get the award. There are 7 slots we’re battling for. Voting ends on 9th June.
Kimathians, let’s support one of our own as much as we can. When your time comes, you’ll come to DekuTrends and we’ll help gather support for you. Click here to vote for her.
12. This has been fun. How can comrades reach you?
Fb: Happiness Ndanu.
Twitter: @ NdanuHappiness
Also see other recent Kimathi Influencers of the Week:
- Franklin Manyara, DeKUTSO Sec Gen.
- Sabul The Bull, former DeKUTSO Sec Gen.
- Nancy Njeri. Rotaract President.
To nominate someone for Influencer of the week, use the hashtag #influencer on the DeChat App. If you’re yet download the app, click here to download it on Play Store and join about 1000 DeKUT comrades in discussing our issues on a platform that can accommodate all.