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How a Group of Women is Making a Difference in Maseno Division, Western Kenya Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Antony Felix O. Simbowo, Kenya Mar 17, 2006
Child & Youth Rights , Poverty   Short Stories
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How a Group of Women is Making a Difference in Maseno Division, Western Kenya
In Africa, Kenya and indeed, the developing world, women form about 70% of family heads and breadwinners, providing for their communities and families alike. Nowhere is this ideal more exemplified than in the work of the Green Hill Women Development Group in the Maseno Division of Western Kenya.

Initially started in Karateng-Nyabera village, the vision of two women who saw what the devastation HIV/AIDS was causing their community, has now expanded to over 100 active members, including men. When it was founded, the sarcasm that greeted them was beyond measure. Many in the area dismissed them as idlers. Others simply ignored them. Lazy members who had expected the organization to get funding in a flash, so that they could benefit, left in a huff when their get-funds-quick dreams were not realized. The local provincial administration fell culprit as well to the dismissive attitude.

But all of this did not stop the determined women from struggling to see a change in their society. Just like the Nobel Peace Laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai, they soldiered on, preferring to concentrate on their development initiatives and avoid negative critics. Five years down the line, the organization has matured in community development work. The determination, hard work and discipline of the group have seen them invited to various local and international conferences, as well as workshops.

Just last year, an official of the group, Mrs. Alice Amondi Osango, was invited to a women’s development workshop organized by Springs Ministries in the nearby Kisumu City. The workshop, which focused on the gender factor in community development with respect to women, gave her the skills necessary for the daily running of their organization.

Some other members and officials of the society have also been opportuned to attend various workshops and conferences in their individual capacities, and as members of the organization. In the year 2002, the organization was linked up with a writer, researcher, development worker and journalist to take them through the rigors of organizational strategic management and capacity building. This saw them bond with various local and international organizations like the Peter and Tobias Eigen-founded Kabissa Civic Society Forum, America-based Action Without Borders and Global Fund for Women, among several other development partners.

Speaking to the group’s Director, Mrs. Joyce Aineah-Kinywa, who is also a former District Inspector of Schools in the region, she said that, “many preliminary members wanted easy-development assistance soon after joining”, but immediately quit when these were not forthcoming as quickly as they had hoped.

“Other members simply hibernated after joining only to emerge whenever some development assistance was in the offing”, she added. They therefore had to formulate stringent membership rules, which allowed only active members to be eligible for development support. Members who were unable to contribute in cash were permitted to bring edibles such as harvested cereals, which then complemented their nursery school feeding program.

The resilience of the association has enabled it to start a nursery school for AIDS orphans pedestalled on a home-based care system (HBC). Under the program, they cater for well over 20 orphans at the school by providing them food, clothing and drugs. The children live with families within the surrounding villages. The school building is a crumbling mud- walled church, which they converted to a classroom. The group managed to acquire a sizeable piece of land for the construction of better classrooms and offices, a project which is still awaiting funding. An official of the group, Mrs. Helen Adhola, says that their activities have mainly been deterred by the lack of funds. In the meantime, they are working on a proposal to be submitted to the Global Fund for Women.

The group is raring to go and has proved its critics wrong. In January 2006, they received a visit from the Directors of the International Anti-AIDS organization, Aids Salvation Kenya (ASK). Water purification and processing machinery for the group has already been flown into the country as a result of the January meeting. Currently, they are laying down frameworks on the utilization of the machinery to commercially produce, containerize and sell natural spring water to local supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and shops. This will put them a notch higher in the fight against poverty and struggle for sustainability.

A youth official of the group, who did not want to be named, jokingly said, “The group is growing fast and if not checked by the lack of funds, it may cover the entire district, country and even the East African region in the next few years”. With such a confident attitude, it is not surprising that they have come so far despite the many stumbling blocks on their way.

More information on the group and how you may be of help can be obtained by contacting Mrs. Joyce Aineah-Kinywa, Karateng'-Nyabera Area, Off Kisumu-Busia Road, P.O. Box 234 Maseno 40105, Kenya. Telephone Nos. 254-721-780537 OR 254-720-140748 Email: workvolunteer@yahoo.com

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Antony Felix O. Simbowo

TakingITGlobal has never been more apt than it is now in providing a forum for expression. This is because the dynamic world has undeveloped challenges that pose a great problem to the growth and daily life of any youth in the global society. What with the incessant wars, poverty, HIV/AIDS, pornography, racism and several other vices creeping into the society in a culture best objectified as vicious gradualism.
Here is where writing comes in handy and the TakingITGlobal literati, glitterati and pundits alike have provided a vital conduit through which these vices, positive and negative dynamism can be expressed.
I am saddened for example, when a promising youth is reduced to a hopeless parasite by drugs. More saddening is when I see the mercilessness, the hopelessness, the dereliction, the lack of love that many children, youth and people are subjected to due to wars, poverty, pornography and such as other negativities which silently and slowly kill the spirit and will within humans! Having gone through such experiences myself, I pray that God gives me the massive ability to be able to help these people to the best of my ability with His guidance, provision and protection. I have often wondered whether the expression "do unto others what you would have them do unto you" is being subjected to relativity. These are the problems which need highlighting and what better forum is there than TakingITGlobal.
I am privileged to be part of this ideologically vimmed and gustoed community.

vas | Sep 5th, 2006
Good luck for the good work done.If microfinance activities can also be started then it will aid the development efforts.One can check Grameen bank ,of Bangladesh and follow it model.Infact international agencies also provide funding to start micofinance programmes.

vas | Sep 5th, 2006
Good luck for the good work done.If microfinance activities can also be started then it will aid the development efforts.One can check Grameen bank ,of Bangladesh and follow it model.Infact international agencies also provide funding to start micofinance programmes.

Thanks Vas
Antony Felix O. O. Simbowo | Mar 13th, 2007
Thanks a lot for the info Vas. We are gonna take it up and see what microfinance models fit the organization's development programmes and can be favorable microeconomic models in the longterm. Thanks a lot and all the best to you and yours.

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