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Home / Achieving Woman

Milka Hadida: Inspired by Mother Teresa

 Milka Yuda won the Florence Nightingale Medal for her selfless acts (Image: Shutterstock)

The first thing I do when I wake up at 4am every day is pray before starting household chores. I usually cycle or walk to work where my duties include identifying and supporting vulnerable girls in the society.

On a normal day I follow-up with donors and well-wishers who are supporting my work, send them thank-you notes and update them on my progress. I also look for foundations that can further support me.

Before volunteering at Red Cross, I did odd jobs like laundry for small pay, and fetching water for workers at construction sites.

I was inspired to work with Red Cross after seeing its impact in the community. Being one the recipients of this year’s Florence Nightingale Medal came as a surprise. I never thought my services would be recognised globally.

I wouldn’t have done it without the support of well-wishers. I plan to use this recognition to further what I’m doing, mentoring more girls and encouraging them to become ambassadors of change.

I’m proud of my accomplishments, so far. I’ve initiated a lot of girl clubs and other social groups where we share issues affecting girls and women, talk about their career ambitions and so on.

During distribution of sanitary towels, I have been able to reach over 6,000 girls in Tana River, and this has helped reduce the number of days’ girls miss school because of lack of pads.

Even so, I have learnt throughout the years that success doesn’t come easy. What I do takes passion and self-sacrifice.

There are instances when I don’t have transport and have to cycle to various villages, and there are instances when I use my own money to buy sanitary pads.

I have also learnt that not everyone will support what you do no matter how worthy the cause. For instance, I get push back from some communities telling me I am teaching girls about things that have been kept sacred (such as talking openly about periods).

 Milk rides her bicycle to reach girls in marginalized areas (Photo courtesy)

I have also endured mockery because I don’t get paid for what I do and, in most cases, I have to use my own resources. It is tough, but I am inspired by selfless individuals such as Mother Teresa, and the smiles on the girls’ faces keep me going.

One social worker once told me that passion should be your guide in whatever field you choose to venture into and once you believe in what you’re doing or why you’re doing what you do, it makes your work more fulfilling.  

The pandemic brought about many challenges. The restrictions around public gatherings affected the outreach work that I do.

The blessing in disguise in this is I had to resort to one-on-one dialogue, an approach that helped me better understand the struggles and needs of the girls I serve.

Before the pandemic I would talk to crowds and in such cases, I got chorus answers and chorus agreements.

But talking to them individually has made me more knowledgeable about their issues as some of them now share things they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing in a crowd.

Whereas self-care to me means the ability to know who you are, and taking care of yourself and the environment around you, it’s something I struggle with and I have not figured out a balance.

I am a single mother of two, a seven-year-old and a four-year-old, and considering the work I do, I feel like I don’t spend enough time with them and I barely have enough time for me.

Sometimes when I don’t have transport to distribute sanitary pads, I cycle to various villages and get back home exhausted. I’m still trying to figure it out.

Outside work, I spend quality time with my family. I also enjoy taking part in community and church activities such as church choir rehearsals and community clean-ups.

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