How I Identified The Need
I come from Bukura village in Western Kenya. I grew up in the village and have seen the struggles that my people face.I have seen children suffer; I have seen kids drop out of school. Mothers have shed tears when they had no idea how their families would feed for a day. Fathers have resulted to drinking to forget their misery. Teenagers have joined gangs to support their families but most important, I have also experienced these huddles. I went to school barefoot in the village, was sometimes sent home for school fees, my grandparents were farmers and when seasons were bad we had no money.
Growing up in a poor village did not mean I had a poor mind. With my resilience hard work and dreaming mind, I managed to join and continue with my primary education in Nairobi. Moving from the village to Nairobi City did not make me any special, but it did give me a special idea that is, and will, transform my community.
I finished my primary education in 2009. I was to join high school but I delayed for 3 months because of school fees problems as my mom who was the bread winner had just lost her job. Instead of sitting idle at home, I moved back to the village where I volunteered as a holiday teacher at Bukura Educational Complex, a local primary school in my village. I taught pupils of class 4 to 7 in Maths, English, Kiswahili and Science.
The tuition further opened my eyes to the challenges that the children faced: lack of school fees, like me at that moment, uniform and adequate stationery. The source of these problems in school was grinding poverty in their homes. I knew there’s a need for financial sustainability among rural women in my community. The majority of these women are poor, single and jobless. In Kenya, about 1/3 of rural households are female headed. Two thirds of these households have no male support so they are headed by widowed, divorced or separated women with children. Poverty in female headed households is 44% higher than in male headed households. Single parenting for these women is a huge challenge as they have to deal with the emotional toll of bringing up the children while supporting the family financially. Basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter are not basic to them; they are privileges that occasionally, if lucky, they get. Their children are either sent home from school fees every term or they don’t go to school at all. Lack of a sustainable source of income has caused both financial struggle and depression among these women.