Tuesday morning, Carol, Corinne, Savannah and I went to visit University UMC’s Hope Companion Group, Peace Gitura, which formed in January, 2016. The program facilitator for the group, Agnus, and Perpetual, the communications director for ZOE Kenya went with us.
The group met at the home of Felister. They welcomed us with singing and dancing. After we sat down, the Chairman, Anthony, welcomed us. He told us how the group has learned to love each other like a family. They visit in each others homes and correct each other like brothers and sisters.
Norah is the group’s mentor. She is a beneficiary of ZOE, who trained in hairdressing and started a salon. She still runs the salon to support her family. She graduated from ZOE in 2012 and petitioned ZOE to start another group in her village. She continues to meet with some members of her five years after they graduated.
Before ZOE, Annrita worked as a casual laborer, often working as a laundress. With ZOE’s support, she started a kiosk. She saved her money and got trained in motorbike (bota bota) repair. She started selling spare parts and now also does repairs. She also has her own bota bota which she runs as a taxi. When she’s busy, her brother runs the taxi. With all she’s gained through ZOE, she’s been able to take another orphan into her family (he’s 12-13) and is teaching him bota bota repair skills as well.
Felister used to go around the community looking for work so she could eat. Her older brother inherited a house and land when their parents died, but the house was small and in disrepair. They were unable to effectively farm the land because they didn’t have tools or knowledge. In addition to her older brother, their elderly grandmother lives with them. Since joining ZOE, they have been able to build a new house. They have lots of chickens, three grown goats and a 2 week old baby goat who was quite interested in us. She earned a hoe and a machete which helps the family in their farming activities. Through ZOE’s health and hygiene training, Felister learned about keeping herself and the areas for her animals clean. She also learned about brushing her teeth after every meal and cleaning her food and utensils. The family build a hand washing station next to their latrine, so they always wash their hands after using the toilet. There was recently an outbreak of cholera in the community, but thanks to their training, the ZOE kids didn’t get sick. Her older brother is thankful for ZOE and what his family has received through his sister joining the group.
One of the girls, Penina, told about her friend Britney who was in the group. She had finished the 8th grade, but was unable to go to high school. She asked for assistance and the group decided that because she had done so well in school, it was important for her to continue her education, so the group supports her going to high school. The group members also contribute 50KS per month to assist her grandmother while Britney is in boarding school. She is now in 10th grade and is doing well.
Glory learned about farming and food security from ZOE and was supported with planting seeds. The crop did well and she had some to eat and some to sell. She was able to buy more seeds to expand her business and also owns a kiosk. Her family is doing well with all their needs.
Elizabeth has one younger sibling. They shared a very small house and didn’t have a bed. ZOE helped her get a bed and a nicer house so she sleeps well at night and doesn’t get rained on.
Floridah serves as the group pastor. She was a casual laborer on farms before ZOE, but she wouldn’t always get paid, so she would sleep hungry. She now runs a kiosk and has started a hair salon with her savings. The group provided her with tailoring training and supported her with a sewing machine. She used to think that if you didn’t have parents you would always have to work for others, but now she works for herself. She is supporting her sister in 10th grade, as well as a younger sibling and her young child, and is also a mentor to other orphans in her village. She teaches them tailoring and dressmaking and allows them to use her sewing machine. She thanks God everyday because she sees how far she’s come. Annrita is also teaching her to ride a bota bota. She wants to start a 4th business as a mechanic.
Anthony, chairman of the group, now owns a barber shop. Before ZOE, he would work feeding animals for food and sometimes shelter. It made him feel so bad and he had low self-esteem. He often had nowhere to sleep. Now Anthony works for himself and has built a house for himself and his two siblings with money he’s saved from his work. Now they live better than some people who have parents and some who used to give him jobs.
Emmaculate was adopted into the group after it formed. She started a porridge business. She usually wakes up in the morning, makes the porridge and moves around the village selling the porridge r from jerry cans. She has 5 younger siblings and a one year old child. They all live with her grandmother. Through the group she received hairdressing training and has started a salon. She plans to teach her siblings hairdressing. She loves farming, so she grows corn and beans.
Floridah gave the secretary’s report. The group formed 1/15/16 with 32 members. There are now 28. Four members were initially supported with startup kits, two salons and two barber shops. Three members were sent for training and then supported with startup kits. All kids were taught in food security and were given maize and beans to plant.
The ZOE staff helped the group build a house for one of the members in need. The group projects are a garden where they grow maize and beans and raising pigs. They started with 5 piglets but 2 died. The first harvest wasn’t good because there wasn’t enough rain, but this harvest looks like it will be better. They have a group Merry-Go-Round fund. When the group first formed, they gave 50 KS each per week and bought utensils for each member. Now each member contributes 100 KS per week. They also give 30 KS for the member who cooks the porridge that week. All the money then goes to that member to boost his or her business. The group also has a Table Bank, which is up to 8600 KS. All the money is out with members as loans for business improvements. In three years they want to be running their own micro loan business in the village.
The group agrees that Felister, Floridah and Annrita are tied for first in the group in terms of how well they are doing.
After the group report, we shared a snack of millet porridge, watermelon, a very sour fruit that’s a cross between an orange and a lemon, and milk tea. The boys were mostly quiet, but the girls asked lots of questions so we had a great time of conversation. After the meal, the meeting broke up and we had the chance to admire Felista’s home. They have several buildings, a nice chicken house and goat enclosure, a clean, well built latrine, and several crops that are thriving. We also saw their compost pit, their hand washing station and their dish drying rack, all health and hygiene “homework” projects they did to earn their hoe and machete.
We then went into the village and visited three businesses. First we visited Felister’s hair salon.
Then we saw Anthony’s barber shop, where he also sells drinks and serves tea and coffee for the young men who come to watch the news on his TV in the evenings.
Finally we visited Annrita’s bota bota repair shop and kiosk.