By our Program Officer
Four years ago I met a woman called Mama Joy in a village in Migori in Western Kenya. She has 5 children. The eldest, John is 21 years old. Mama Joy is a housewife; she doesn’t have any stable income and depends on her husband, who is a casual laborer in a nearby sugar factory. Her son dropped out of school in 10th because of lack of school fees.
When I saw Mama Joy, she looked pale and unhappy. SDFA, our organization held consultative meetings with community elders, women and youth. The community donated space and we set up a small youth resource center- where we put in basic tools and equipment. We recruited John and other unemployed youth, and gave them technical and business training in renewable energy. John and the youth made solar lamps, which went to Mama Joy and a group of 50 fellow women. We provided the women with micro-entrepreneurship training, and worked with them to save the money they would have otherwise spend on kerosene. After, 4 months, Mama Joy and her group of 50 women started bee-keeping business. We trained them on packaging, and they were able to sell their honey in stores in nearby towns. They paid the cost of the lamps. We helped them approach a micro-finance institution and they were given a loan, using the bee keeping business as collateral. They expanded the business and even started horticulture business. Within two years, each member of the group was earning US $ 50 every month from their micro businesses.
When I visited Mama Joy later, she was so happy- I asked why and all she could say was that her marriage is happier, she felt wanted since and had a meaning in her life