- Amisa Rashid founded the Nivishe Foundation, a youth and women led organisation that aims to build community resilience through mental health and trauma-informed resilience programs.
- Her ambition is to bring about a paradigm shift in mental well-being and quality of life by mentoring women and girls to pursue leadership positions.
The loss of her father in 2017 prompted 27-year-old Amisa Rashid to start Nivishe Foundation, an organization that primarily deals with mental issues.
This has earned her global recognition as she is East Africa’s only representative in the Global Student Prize 2021. The winner of the prize will be announced on Wednesday (10th November 2021).
Amisa says, “The Global Student prize is similar to the Global Teacher Prize, in this case, they award students who are doing exceptionally. In 2019, Peter Tabichi, a Kenyan teacher, won and this year they started a student’s programme to complement what the teachers are doing. So they had a call for nominations where I was nominated from over 3,500 nominations. It was then narrowed down to top 50 finalists globally where I was the only Kenyan, and they settled on the top ten and I am the only representative from East Africa.”
Amisa’s rise to global recognition began in Kibera – one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, and home to the marginalized Nubian community to which she belongs – where she was born and bred. It is here that she offers counselling services for her community through the Nivishe Foundation.
“After losing my father I realized that in the Muslim community there was no concrete way one is allowed to go through loss and grief in a healthy way without being told you are not supposed to cry loudly. I was looking for something that could help me heal and that is how I enrolled for counselling psychology,” says Amisa,
Just like that, Nivishe Foundation was birthed.
“Nivishe is a Kiswahili word that means to clothe you. The foundation aims to clothe you holistically that is, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. One of our main aims is to create community resilience using mental health and trauma-informed as tools for building social cohesion.’’
The master’s student in Public Policy at Strathmore University beat students from 94 countries to earn a spot in the top 10 list. She works with a team of 18 counsellors.
“Our programmes are focused on community-based mental health interventions. We look at how we can bridge the gap between community-based mental interventions so that even a mama mboga at the grassroot level can understand mental health without thinking it is a jargon meant for a selected few.”
Nivishe has a weekly community radio talk show where they break down issues touching on mental health in a way that all audiences can comprehend the subject. They also have mental health clubs where they work with teachers, learners and their parents, as well as a program for young teen mothers among others.
“We have been able to impact over 4,000 women because we have a weekly engagement with women, for instance, we meet them in their chamas, and in other forums. We have also reached over 10,000 youth from 2019 to date.”
Amisa Rashid: Nivishe depends on grants, donations
“Some of our counsellors are trained to offer services in sign language. We have counsellors who deliver services timely to people with hearing impairment. And so far, we have impacted 200 people with hearing impairment,” Amisa Rashid tells TV47, in an exclusive interview.
The Global Student prize is a program by Varkey foundation and Chegg, meant to celebrate students impacting their communities positively. The prize comes with 100,000USD which is approximately 10 million shillings. Africa has two other students from Nigeria and Sierra Leone also competing for the prize.
Amisa Rashid’s plan if she wins the coveted prize?
If she wins the Prize, Amisa would use the funds to scale up her work at Nivishe Foundation. This would allow her to reach other communities while continuing to focus on the mental wellbeing of young women and girls in the Kibra slums.
All these initiatives will be carried out by providing increased access to information, resources and development opportunities, as well as rapid mental health therapy sessions and reproductive health and counseling.
This year, Amisa Rashid was named African Youth of the Year. In 2020, she was nominated for the 35 under 35 Youth Awards and the DIAR Youth in Leadership award. Her work is in informal settlements, Nakuru, Garissa, Kwale and Mombasa.