Women are the pillars of the society and when we see one succeed and follow her dreams we fill we are living our mission which is to empower marginalized women to access, own and sustainably manage productive assets and participate in the peace building process in their communities. Lilian Lomuthono, 30 years old and a mother of five has been with us since last year and she has shown remarkable performance both in class and in other activities.
Before Lilian joined us, she used to make charcoal and sell to sustain her family. She narrates that her husband is a casual labourer and although he could make some money, he left the responsibility of raising the children on her. She longed to give her children the best life but she could not afford due to lack of finance.
‘When I heard of Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika, I knew that was an opportunity that was going to change our lives forever. I never went to school when I was young but I was ready to give it a try and I decided to talk to my husband’
Although her husband did not decline her request directly, he made it clear that he was not going to look after the children and be laughed at by people for being over powered by a woman. This gave her a hard time but her 11 years old daughter who is her first born agreed to look after her siblings as her mother attends the tailoring training. Although very hard, Lilian left her 4children under the care of her 11 year old daughter and started the training.
After just one year she has acquired a lot of skills and knowledge in making the different products and she is even earning commission from the products she makes for the organization to sell. She shares that her life has changed greatly because she has found a part time job in a tailoring shop at Morpus centre where she works on weekends when she is not at the centre. ‘I can make skirts, blouses, school uniforms and children clothing without any difficulties.’ The money she gets sustains her family while she is at school and some of it she uses to purchase materials to make clothes for them. ‘I have been transformed from burning charcoal to a dress maker and at the moment my employer has left her shop under my care as she is on maternity leave. I have come to believe that it is possible to achieve anything we set our mind on provided we are determined and we are ready to sacrifice and work towards achieving our dreams.
Lilian is looking forward to graduating at the end of this year and getting a sewing machine from the organization to start her own business and give her children the good life that they deserve.
tailoring students during agro forestry, soil and water conservation training in the farm
In our quest to improve economic status of young girls and women who have been adversely affected by droughts and conflicts induced by climatic changes in West Pokot County, we have come along many women most of who had given up in life but are now seeing hope and dreaming of a better tomorrow. Anita, a second year student is one of the girls who joined us last year after divorcing from her husband whom she had been forced to marry when she was in class 8. Due to this arranged marriage she did not sit for her exams and ended up a house wife and a young mother. She shares that she was not able to stay in this marriage for long and had to go back to her mother’s place after which she met a good Samaritan who introduced her to Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika.
She narrates that she did not have any money to pay her fees and she knew clearly that her parents were not going to support her but she decided to come so that she can better her life and have a way of helping her then one year old son.
Anita has been working hard to raise part of the required fee for the training and she recently applied for CDF to help clear her fee. She has recorded remarkable improvement in making the different products and at the moment she can make straight skirts, blouses, rompers, school uniforms, short trousers and game skits. She is also earning commission through making products ordered for by our clients to help raise half the cost of a sewing machine before she completes her training.
tailoring students in class.
tailoring students during an exams
Our enrollment in the income security program under tailoring training has increased to 26 students from last year’s 13. The new students most of who come from the groups we are working with in our food security program joined us late last month and we are happy to share that they have gotten acquainted with our routine, blended into the system and have even sat for their first continuous assessment test.
Due to their lack of knowledge in reading and writing, we have decided to change our examination system whereby we select those who cannot write or read at all and offer them an oral exam while those who can read and write are allowed to write their exams. This measure was necessary because some of the students cannot write or read and they must sit for theory exams besides practical. We have managed to add another teacher to tend to them as the former one continues with the other students in the production class.
Our former students now in their second year are showing good progress in their work. They have been able to make school uniforms for the rescued girls and 10 rompers for shipment to our clients. Although they have just been introduced to computer studies, they have embraced it and they are eager to learn get the most out of it within the short period of time remaining before they graduate.
Most of our students are back from the December Holiday and training has already begun. Those in the production class are currently working on school uniforms for six of our rescued girls who sat their KCPE last year and will be joining St Elizabeth for their secondary education. While those in the training class are still working hard in making neat products to enable them be promoted into the production class.
With the need to develop our students both academically, socially and psychologically, we have incorporated other subjects such as computer classes, basic reading and writing as well as guiding and counseling sessions besides tailoring and Agricultural training that we were initially offering. We hope that by equipping these girls with these skills and knowledge, they will be able to fend for themselves as well as learn how to get along with others and survive in this competitive world.
Although our catering course has not started yet due to lack of essential equipment, we have instead decided to give admission to 20 more tailoring trainees most of who have already reported and being oriented to get an understanding of our programs and the organization at large. These students have been taken from most of the groups we are working with in our food security program.
production students making school uniforms for the rescued girls
We are happy to see young girls and women who joined us with low self esteem and poor perception about themselves due to the hard life they have been through leave us empowered and full of hope and determination.
jane wanjiru showing a bag she has made
During this quarter, two of students have graduated from our income security program. Dorothoy cherop who joined us in January 2014 graduated in October while Jane Wanjiru followed shortly this December. ‘with the skills I have acquired from my trainers Mary Makokha and Mr. Ken Omondi who left some time back, I am confident to start my own sewing business and give customers what they need’ Jane Wanjiru.
Wanjiru, 55years old and a mother of five has been with Jitokeze since 2012 and despite her age, she has been a committed and disciplined student and always eager to learn even from her juniors and those who joined us recently. ‘people used to laugh at me when they heard I am back in school and some even tried to discourage me saying I am too old to sit down and be taught. I am proud of myself and now i not only have knowledge and skills but also a sewing machine to start my business with.’
Jane explains that although she has been in the training for a very long time, she still felt she needed her trainers and she is happy they never failed her. She says she has had a plat form to practice making all kind of cloths and bags and she does not regret the holidays she sacrificed just to be at the centre and work on orders brought in by our clients while learning from her trainer Miss Makokha. While Jane leaves the organization empowered, we feel the gap she has left because she was not just a mother to all of us but a good advisor and councillor due to her age and experience.
The two graduates have left the organization with a sewing machine each to boost them as they venture into the out side market. We are looking forward to visiting them and finding out how they are faring on as well as provide the necessary assistance needed.