ABM Programs Director, Dr Julianne Stewart, recently visited the Makakya region of Kenya on a monitoring visit. She met many beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program and the Village Savings and Loans (VSL) Program, and heard their stories. Both of these life-changing initiatives are being delivered by ABM’s partner in Kenya, the Anglican Development Services-Eastern, and are partly-funded by the Australian Aid program.
Here are just a few of these stories….
|Kwa Mutuku sand dam in Makakya|
Unity is a strength. When I try to visualise where Australia is, we come to join hands: ABM, Anglican Development Services-Eastern (ADSE), and we at the grassroots in Makakya. I thank you that much has been achieved. I thank our chief who has been so helpful. We call him the Initiator, since he selected the 13 groups to form the ‘community-based organisations’ in December 2012. Water is life. The condition of water in our area is improving through efforts of ADSE in constructing 9 sand dams: 6 on the western side and 3 on the eastern side. So many donors had previously avoided working near this river, but not ADSE. The people who live near the sand dams send their greetings and say, “Thankyou ADSE”. Previously they had to walk 9km each way to collect water. Now they use that time for their activities. Quality of livestock has also improved since they don’t have to walk so far for water.
We used to borrow salt, sugar etc from neighbours, but we no longer do that because we have access to money from the VSL. Previously our children used to leave school as they could not pay school fees, but now they can pay. We can maintain our status. We can buy shoes, and we have bought our uniform to differentiate ourselves from non-members. We can afford to buy soap and wash and look presentable now.
Before the Village Savings and Loans (VSL) program, we were in total darkness. When you look at me, I am strong compared to others my age. I can buy chickens. I can eat the eggs. It makes me strong. I can buy goats and drink the milk and this makes me strong. Although I have grandchildren, I don’t look like a grandmother. Before, we never had mattresses – only rugs. Now we can buy mattresses, blankets and sheets and now sleep has become very sweet. We know as women that men are very committed with many things so now the women don’t wait for their men to buy household utensils like cups, spoons, frying pans, clothes etc. When we women have money, the men don’t worry where the money is coming from. The men trust their wives because they are in the VSL and they don’t query the source of the money. Previously we used to rely on men to buy farm inputs (fertiliser, manure etc.) but now when our men come home they find the women have already bought these farm inputs. Men don’t demand money from the women. They give the women a free hand to spend as they wish, but we give our men money on a voluntary basis.
|Rose shows the crops she was able to grow using funds from the Village Savings and Loans program|
I have a husband, 6 children and 5 grandchildren, so 13 of us in all. I live near the river where the sand dam was constructed in July 2015. I have used the water for livestock, domestic use, cooking and gardening. I grow melons and French beans. When I started I never had a good pit latrine at my homestead. I was able to dig a 20ft pit, using a loan of KES 20,000 (roughly AU$260) to buy stones for the pit. After I repaid this, I borrowed KES 15,000 for the cement for the pit. I bought bricks, then repaid and borrowed KES 15,000 more so I could pay a mason for his labour. When his work is finished, I will have 2 pit latrines for my household.
The kindness of ABM supporters has made these two programs possible, enabling community members to lift themselves out of poverty and realise their goals. ABM would like to warmly thank everyone who has contributed, and acknowledge the wonderful work done by the Anglican Development Services-Eastern. It is truly helping to change lives in some of the poorest communities in Kenya, demonstrating the love and care of God in a very tangible way.