Here is another report from our social worker in Kenya, focusing on just one person, Justar.
Justar’s dream (with pictures! :) )
Head of Household: Justar, 21
Siblings: Antony, 16; Evelyne, 18
With the death of both her parents, Justar became the caregiver and provider for her younger siblings. The parents had left few resources behind to support the children, so Justar did what she could working jobs for low pay, trying to grow some food to eat and seeking community assistance when necessary. But this survival mode of existence provided no money to cover the costs of medical care when her sisters became sick with malaria and a stomach parasite. The lack of money also meant the younger children were unable to attend school sometimes because they could not pay the fees or purchase school uniforms.
When ZOE invited Justar to join the Samaritan Liliaba Working Group, she and her family were finally provided with an opportunity to escape their barely subsistent life of poverty. And it started with a dream.
Focus on: The Dream
Most orphans and vulnerable children entering the ZOE empowerment program face a daily struggle to survive. With their energy consumed by the need to find food for themselves and their siblings, there is neither time to think about the future nor reason to hope for something better. But through ZOE and your partnership, the children learn to imagine a new life and prepare to make it a reality.
During one of the early working group meetings, the ZOE social worker leads members through an exercise called the Dream process where they explore their current situation and then consider what they want and how to get it. After discussing hopes and goals with their siblings, the family leader creates a poster of responses to a standard set of questions from the social worker. To the left is an example of the Dream document.
The head of each family presents their Dream to the rest of the working group members who express support and give feedback. These Dream documents help the social worker better understand the conditions of the children’s lives so they can address specific needs or traumas suffered. The family keeps a copy of their Dream, often displaying it in their home to provide daily motivation as they strive to create their new life.
The following are the responses Justar provided to the Dream questions after she had discussed it with the other family members:
What makes you feel sad? Death of my parents
What makes you happy? When my siblings go to school
What happens in the community that you do not like? Quarrels and fights
What is your dream for the future? Have a big beauty shop and salon
What will be your guiding principles to achieve your dream? Prayers and hardwork
The first trainings of the ZOE empowerment program focused on food security; specifically, the best agricultural methods for growing food and the importance of eating a nutritionally balanced diet. After the training, all the members of the group received high quality seeds and any tools they needed to plant a crop of corn and a home vegetable garden. Although Justar had been growing some food, the better seeds and training meant she would now have better yields. Additionally, Justar was able to cultivate larger sections of land because her new working group friends helped her prepare the land.
It is very important that the young family leaders develop multiple ways to earn money and keep their family food secure. ZOE trains the group on business development and money management and then encourages the members to discuss potential income generating ideas among themselves. Justar decided she could be successful running a hair salon. With assistance from ZOE she received vocational training and then a start-up kit with the supplies (like a sink, chair and scissors) needed for her business. She opened her business in September.
Training during the first six months also includes child rights so that members know how to protect themselves from abuse and discrimination. They also began training on health and disease prevention. Justar has started implementing at home the lessons she learned so that she can better protect her family from malaria and stomach ailments. After a ZOE program facilitator made a home visit to check on her progress, Justar was provided with blankets and mosquito nets.
During her three years with ZOE, Justar will continue to receive training in all areas of her life. Additionally, she will strengthen her relationship with those in the working group so that she has friends to help her face challenges and celebrate successes. Of course, she will also have the support and prayers of people from University UMC which makes the transformation of her life possible.