Kalevala Training Center

Over the course of three years, 398 young women have already graduated from the Kalevala Training Center

Education is the way to improve the rights of girls and women in the world. Kalevala Training Center is a training center founded with funding from Kalevala Jewelry and now in its fourth year of operation, which offers vocational training to the most disadvantaged young women and girls in the village of Makongen in Kenya.

Kalevala Training Center was opened in 2020 and its operation is financed by Kalevala Jewelry. A non-profit association called Home Street Home is responsible for the operation on the ground in Makongen, Kenya. The operation is run by Viola Wallenius, a young Finn living in Makongen, together with local team members.

The training center offers three training programs: professional degrees in hairdressing, tailoring and computer processing. The trainings are part of the official professional qualification system of the Kenyan government. Degrees are free of charge for students. In addition to teaching and learning materials, students are offered a hot lunch every day.

When a free lunch for students was introduced at the Kalevala Training Center, it directly affected the number of students who dropped out of their studies. There are very few dropouts and most of the time they return at some point to continue their studies.

Kalevala Training Center permanently employs six teachers, a training manager, a cook, a kitchen assistant, a cleaner and a security guard. All hired employees are local residents of the surrounding areas.

The local team members tell us what they are up to.

In three years, 398 young women have already received vocational training from KTC. Of the graduated students, 34% have found employment or founded a company, and 45% have continued their studies or received an internship.

Kalevala Training Center is part of the Home Street Home activity center, which includes, in addition to the training center, a reception clinic offering free health services, a children's play school, a daycare for children with CP and developmental disabilities, and a library.

The training center has attracted attention and interest on a wider scale. Representatives of several organizations have familiarized themselves with the center's operating model, which are planning to implement a similar project in their own operating area.

In the latest journal article, Viola Wallenius, founder of Home Street Home, discusses the daily operations of the Kalevala Training Center and the profound impact its activities have on women entrepreneurs in the region. The article also provides insight from local team members of the Kalevala Training Center.

Where did it all start?

In the spring of 2014, high school student Viola Wallenius went to Kenya for volunteer work. Two months later, Wallenius returned to Finland, but her heart remained in Africa. She read an article about a Finnish woman who had founded an orphanage in Nepal and wondered if he could do the same herself. To implement the project, Wallenius founded the Home Street Home association in the same fall.

Kalevala Training Center was founded in 2020, and with that, the association's activities included supporting the education of women and girls more and more widely. In the same spring, the Kalevala Training Center was built in the village of Makongen on the east coast of Kenya with the help of 86 local artisans, builders and specialists.

The training center was completed in 146 days. Read an interesting article about the completion of the training center.

The first year of the Kalevala Training Center

The training started at the Kalevala Training Center in the fall of 2020 and the first students graduated in November. Watch the video below and read more about the atmosphere of the first graduation day in the article written by Viola Wallenius.

Young artist Juma Hamis painted the Kalevala Training Center mural

The mural of the main building of the educational center was realized in cooperation with the local young artist Juma Hamis and the team members of Home Street Home. The three sections of the mural reflect the cooperation between girls and women, the joy of working together, supporting those in a weaker position, and climbing step by step towards goals. It took more than a week to paint the mural - follow the progress of the mural in the timelapse video below.

Do you know what Ubuntu means?

Kalevala Training Center staff work wholeheartedly every day to ensure that students get as much time as possible and achieve their personal goals.

Ubuntu is an African belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness towards others: I am because you are - and we would be nothing without you.

Get to know Kalevala Training Center's activities, teachers and students in the annual report.

The Quarterly Reports

Through the quarterly reports you can learn more about Kalevala Training Center's operations and achievements. We actively monitor the development and effectiveness of the training center's operations, e.g. through the number of students who graduate and find employment. Discover the latest report.

More information about Home Street Home and Kalevala Training Center

If you are interested in Home Street Home and, for example, training and volunteering at the Kalevala Training Center, you can find more information on Home Street Home's website. Since 2016, 40 local and 216 international volunteers and interns have worked at HSH.

Join the Kalevala community by subscribing to the Kalevala newsletter. In the newsletters, we also report current news about the Kalevala Training Center and its activities.