“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference.” Wangari Maathai, former Kenyan MP, Assistant Minister for Environment, environment activist and the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
About Affordable Women’s Group
DanChurchAid and Women Empowerment Link (WEL) through ‘Strengthening Community-Based Structures to Prevent and Respond to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence’ project funded by DANIDA, commits to end violence against women and girls. Statistics show that 3 out of 4 women and girls have experienced gender-based violence. When a mentor from WEL arrived in Bondeni informal settlement, she found a group of women with many ideas to enhance their livelihoods but lacked means and empowerment. She advised them to form a group as neighbours and start a Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC).
The women did just that and in January 2022, they formed a group of 11 members and started saving 30 shillings (Approximately 0.2 Usd) (20 shillings as savings and 10 shillings meant for social lending) monthly. WEL trained the members on financial literacy, helped them open a bank account and filing of returns. Soon the women become motivated and raised the savings plan to 100 shillings (Approximately 0.6 Usd) monthly! Members started accessing flexible loans to start small business i.e., hawking fruits, paying for school fees, medical and rent.
Women with a shared resolve
WEL with the support from DCA empowered the group with a grant which they decided to use the money to start a shoe business. Each member was given 3 pairs of shoes to sell and from the profit, they were able to expand their business. They added kangas and ladies’ pouches to their stock. Supplementing their savings plan with profits from the business meant their savings account grew rapidly and in 2 years now, the group have 100, 000 shillings savings!
The group is now dreaming big! With a savings of 100, 000 shillings (Approximately 652 Usd), they have a plan to rent their own shop where they would sell their stocks in. They also plan to give back to the community by planting trees. Apart from economic empowerment, DCA and WEL trained one member volunteered by the group to be a champion who will help curb vices in the settlement like drug abuse, early marriages, talent mentorship targeting the youth.
Lister Kerubo, 30
Resident in Bondeni and member of the Affordable Women SILC group. Married with 4 children.
Before joining SILC
Lister found herself a married woman and a mother at a young age. Lacking a source of income, the duty to provide for the young family fell to the husband – who also had no consistent income as he engages in odd jobs. She will always ask her husband for money to buy basic commodities like food, clothing and school fees for the children. This brought a rift between them and became a recipe for violence in their marriage.
“Sometimes he will give me some money which is not enough to buy what we need. When I ask for more, I will be beaten.”
The constant beatings brought adversity to her marriage as it soon affected the children. Lack of peace soon lead to her being depressed.
“I could see my children very unhappy and when I ask them, they will always say it was nothing, yet I could see them withdrawn.”
After joining SILC
A mentor from WEL identified her as going through gender-based violence and advised her to join a SILC group together with her neighbours. After joining a group, they started saving and could borrow loans from the group. The loans helped her pay for rent and school fees, buy basic household items and food. She could afford decent clothing and lifestyle for her children.
“My children became very happy and always wanted to go out to play and show their friends new clothes.” Lister says with a big smile and pride.
Consequently, violence subsided in her marriage as they could now support each with her husband in providing for the family. Their family is now thriving!
Beatrice Nyambura, 32
Resident in Bondeni and member of the local SILC group. She finished grade 8 in 2007, had her first child in 2009 (age 18) and got married in 2011. Married with 3 children: Boy (14), Girl (11), Girl (4).
Before joining SILC
“I didn’t have a job and wasn’t making any money – and I was taking drugs. I was chewing khat.
I was constantly getting into conflicts with my neighbours and people around me. I had nothing to do, I was idle, and I participated in spreading hearsay and gossip in the neighbourhood. I didn’t have much of a meaningful life of my own, so I was very busy getting involved in other people’s lives.”
“When my husband gave me money for the household – for food – I would spend around 1/3 of it on Khat. And it wasn’t a lot of money in the first place – my husband is a casual labourer. Sometimes he didn’t even earn enough to bring money home. Consequently, I started selling sex – it was the only way I could fund my drug abuse and feed the family.”
After joining SILC.
“Since I became part of this program (SILC) I have become much more patient with my husband – and I can make a regular contribution financially at home. There’s peace at home – my husband doesn’t hit me anymore and the children are happier and not stressed because of fighting and lack of food. When my husband can’t find work, I can provide for the family.”
“I am now paying school fees for my oldest son who is 14 and I can buy all the children new clothes so they can dress nicely.”
“For me joining SILC with the support of WEL and DCA, means that I am no longer using drugs, my husband is happy and is supporting my journey – and he doesn’t hit me anymore. They children are happier too.”
“Several of my old friends – who had similar problems – are now also part of the SILC group. And it has changed all of our lives. Other friends are still using drugs and can’t break out of it. Changing things are not easy – it is a personal decision, and it has to come from the heart.”
Linet Moraa, 28
Resident in Bondeni and member of the Affordable Women SILC group. Married with 3 children boy (12), boy (6), girl (3).
Before joining SILC
Linet’s case is different. Even though she has seen violence in her marriage almost at the onset, the situation exacerbated when she gave birth to her second born, a boy suffering from autism – a neurologic disorder. The ridicule from friends and relatives – particularly from the husband side – soon brought too much stress and misery to her marriage. The husband could often project his frustrations to her – constantly beating her.
“My husband has been violent from the beginning, but it got worse when my second born came. The cost of maintaining a special needs child worsened our already bad economic situation.”
Linet will always stay at home to take care of her son and could not go out to look for any job. The husband resorted to doing illegal activities to fend for her family. This brought more misery and the beatings continued. Linet was psychologically tortured and felt depressed.
After joining SILC
When she joined SILC, she started savings as low as 30 shillings a week, which enabled her to borrow loans to buy foodstuff, clothing, diapers, pay for school fees and pay for therapy service and clinic for her little boy. WEL with the support from DanChurchAid continued to empower the women group for instance in July 2022, each group member was given a shopping voucher to buy foodstuff.
“Through their support (DCA and WEL), I joined a group of strong women who help each other in times of need. My family now is at peace, and we rarely lack a thing.” Linet says happily.
Emma Wamuyu, 36
Resident in Karatina settlement in Nakuru, and director, Amani Rescue Centre. Married with 3 children.
Before intervention from DCA and WEL
Emma’s life is a definition of resilience and turn-around! Her husband met and married her when she already had a kid. They will always quarrel and fight over many things, among them non-provision by the husband and what she felt as disrespect.
“I think meeting my husband while already having a child from previous relationship brought disrespect in my marriage.”
She also identifies a fact that she was an orphan when they met and had no close relatives, and lack of financial means as other reasons why he disrespected her. The quarrels and beating continued until Emma decided to quit.
After intervention from DCA and WEL
DCA and WEL through ‘Strengthening Community-Based Structures to Prevent and Respond to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence’ project, supported her and 7 other women start a daycare to sustain their livelihoods. After Covid-19, running aa daycare business became hard forcing 6 of the 8 women to quit. One of their customers also ran to Kakamega abandoning her 2 children in Emma’s daycare. She had to open a small hotel to take care of the minors.
“I am a mother and there was no way I could leave the 2 children on their own. I decided to look after them and soon I got another 2 children from the street. That is when the idea to start a rescue centre came by.” Says Emma as she holds a young girl whom she says was brough to her by a Chief.
Through the project, she has been trained on opening a website for her CBO, register and got a certificate for her organisation, her staff trained on how to handle children and how to support the kids psycho-socially. Since she started, a total of 42 kids have been hosted in the centre from as far Narok county although majority are from the streets of Nakuru county. 2 of the children are through secondary school level of education and looking forward to pursuing further. Indeed, Emma’s family (her husband and 3 kids) all live together and is difficult to tell her own children as she treats them equally.
Over time, the centre has also been serving as a rescue centre for women running from gender-based violence, one at the time of reporting. The woman is volunteering in doing some of the chores at the centre.
Challenges and Ambitions
Emma solely depends on kind donations from well-wishers who visits the rescue centre to fund her operations. All costs ranging from school fees, water, medical and electricity bills and foodstuff for the kids depends on it as she has no means of funding. Amidst the challenges, Emma has so far soared high and looking forward to expanding the rescue centres to accommodate more GBV victims as well as orphans.
Empowering a woman is indeed empowering a whole community!
Women Empowerment Link
Established in 2007, the Women’s Empowerment Link (WEL) is a non- profit, nonpartisan, non-governmental women rights organization. They invest in empowering women and girls to realize their full potential, worth and strength politically, socially and economically through advocating for their human and social justice rights.
WEL recognizes that the survival of women and their communities is increasingly challenged by economic dependency, illiteracy, gender inequalities & marginalization, HIV/AIDS, Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV), conflict, insensitive laws and policies.
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