ASILI DIBA, Member, Barako Jaldesa Group, Marsabit
I am 25 years old and have three children; two boys and one girl. I am divorced. I was married at the age of 18 to a man who did not want me to ever leave the house or socialize much outside home. I was not even allowed to go out and take care of the livestock or farm for food for our children. Yet this man would not even bring home money for food, or any food itself, leaving my children malnourished. He did not even pay for the children?s? school fees. My father, seeing all this, took me back to my parents? homestead, along with my husband, in the hopes that he would change. But things only got worse. Eventually, my father supported me in my decision to chase my husband today, and that was the best decision of my life, for me and my children!
I joined the Barako Jaldesa group along with my father, when it started in October 2011. I am the secretary and record-keeper for the group. From the beginning, while others in the group were skeptical about what CARE was telling us, I was excited. I knew this would change our community for the better! The community has benefitted a lot. The group has been able to open a little kiosk to sell food items and other basic necessities. This is the first shop to do so in the area, so the community does not have to travel long distances any more to get basic commodities. The profits from the shop also go back to the group, who continues to benefit. Now group members can take loans for anything they need, and are not stuck having to beg from others to help with money.
At first, some community members would question my ability to be able to do all this without a husband. But many are happy now, because they see that I am an empowered woman. After watching Taking Root, I am extremely inspired! She too was a divorced woman and yet despite all the troubles that the men and the government gave her, she changed Kenya. She has shown me that I too can do something for my community like she did. I dream that my children will get a full education that I missed out on, and they will support me when they grow up. The movie made me realize that as a woman I can stand up for the rights of my community. I think even tree planting will work in our community, and I am going to push the group to plant trees ? this will protect our earth and also give us more income. I urge all other communities to start their own GSL?s- it really is a break from poverty! I am very excited to see the next films, which I am sure I will inspire us women to become stronger leaders in our communities!My life has also changed because of this group!!! I have been able to take loans and improve my small business. I just repaid 20,000shs of a loan I had taken from the group of 30,000shs to build my own home in my father?s homestead! Being divorced did not cripple me, it made me stronger. It is traditionally the man who builds his family?s home, but GSL allowed me to be equal to a man in this regard! My home is one of the biggest in the village, and I have agreed with CARE that my home will be the venue for all the Women and Girls Lead film screenings and discussions!
KABALLE BARAKO, Member, Barako Jaldesa Group, Marsabit
I am 70 years old, and I am a manyatta elder (community elder) married with three daughters and four sons. My husband and I were the first to move to this area, and started this village. By virtue of this, we became the village elders. We welcomed everyone else who came to settle here. As the female elder, I call all the women to the community meetings so their voices can be heard too.
Before GSL was taught to us, I never knew how to even save a penny. For me, money that came in was meant to be all spent immediately, on food and other things. I never thought of saving for the future. It had never occurred to me that saving was important. The group has really helped the larger community. The non-group members are also able to take loans, and they pay back with a higher interest rate than group members. So the group has almost become a grassroots community bank.
We never had any businesses in our village before. But the group has been able to come together and open this little shop to sell basic commodities and give us all more profit. As the group, we have decided after watching Taking Root to start up a nursery where we can grow more food for ourselves and get more income.
Before, my husband and I could not keep our children in school. Now I have taken a loan three times, each of 10,000shs, to ensure my children are back in school. We do not have to beg around for school fee assistance anymore, and that is a great achievement!
As an elder, during community meetings, I have always been listened to. The movie reminds me that women are extremely powerful and can really change destiny! A while ago, our village was suffering from a severe scarcity of water. I went around to all homesteads to assess the situation, and took the initiative to go to the Ministry of Water and tell them of our problems. I urged the Ministry to help us. They brought a tanker full of water to our village because of my actions, and all in my community were able to get water! Having seen the movie, I have realized that, as women, we can still do a lot more for our community, and I plan to lead on that!
BUKHE TAARI, Member, Barako Jaldesa Group, Marsabit
I am the box-keeper for the Barako Jaldesa group savings and loans group. We started out very small with our loans, and we are doing so well today! We are even able to give loans to non-group members sometimes. My first loan allowed me to buy five goats, which I will be selling those soon for a much bigger profit.
As a widow having to fend for my seven children; for boys and three girls, GSL has helped me a lot. I have been able to send all my children to school. As a single mum it was very difficult to bring up my children. But I managed. I have been doing some farming, which has helped me as I sell the produce. My brother-in-law also helps when I am really stuck.
I hope that when my children are educated, they will come back and help me. For the younger ones, I will keep on struggling to ensure that they get a good education.
The movie about Wangari Maathai was very inspiring. However, the activity to make change is not a day?s job, but will take time. We as the group are inspired to do more for our community, slowly but surely. We are already planning to plant more trees and crops that we can sell.
Women can change the lives of the communities! We women will always find more time to meet about these issues. We plan to go around from village to village discussing community issues and really pushing the women to take lead in changing their community situations for the better!
DIBA GALGALO, Member, Barako Jaldesa Group, Marsabit
I am one of the village elders. Some of the women group members are their daughters and wives. It is the women who told the men of the village about CARE?s GSL plans. The men consented to the women participating in GSL, and also joined along with the women.
Before the GSL came, I was also part of the village Environmental Management Committee (EMC). We work alongside the women to make sure we do not cut down too many trees for charcoal. I brought what I had learnt in the EMC into our GSL so others could learn. We are already increasing the number of nurseries in our communities. This film has shown us that we really are on the right path.
The GSL has really helped me. I now trade in cows and goats, making good profits for them. I pay for the school fees for my youngest children now, ensuring they get a good education. I have contributed to the group?s shop, which stocks products we could never get here before. We are passing on the information about GSLs to other community members so that they can benefit too.
The movie has inspired me a lot. It showed me how empowered women can change all our lives. In our group, we practice this empowerment. We are giving the opportunity to the women to lead the group as chairladies and other senior leaders. If we continue to give the women more leadership opportunities, a lot of development will result in our community, because the women are aggressive in their fight for community rights.
Asili, my daughter, who you have already interviewed, is also part of the GSL. She is divorced. Her husband was a lazy man who did not even provide food for his family. In our culture, once a woman has been married, whether she becomes widowed or gets divorced, she will not get remarried. So Asili will not be forced to remarry to keep our name; that is not part of our culture. As you can see, she has built her own home, and that makes me proud because that is traditionally a man?s job. She is also providing for her own family. I want her to become independent and strong. But she knows that when she needs help I will always be here.
HAWO WARIOJIRMO, Chairlady, Kupi Banya Group, Marsabit
I am 50 years old, divorced, and have 7 children, 4 girls and 3 boys. My husband forcefully abandoned and divorced me and went off to marry a younger wife. He did not even listen to me or allow me to negotiate to be a co-wife. But I am not upset. My husband was an alcoholic, and would give me many problems. He was always drunk, and violent. The community has been very supportive, and has always helped me, because they knew the kind of man my husband was. Before we started up the group, all the money I used to get for selling firewood went straight to buying my family food. So I had no savings. But the savings have helped me. I have opened up a little kiosk, where I sell basic commodities. I also cook and sell potatoes, cabbage stew, and chapatis (unleavened flat bread), which usually runs out because the Chinese from the road construction company love it! My life is good now! When I am stuck, I can get loans from the group. So I don?t worry about my family as I used to. I dream that the Kupi Banya group becomes an inspiration for everyone else in our community! Having seen Taking Root, I know that as a group we can unite and voice our concerns to the village elders and the government, and that way, we will change our community! We never wish to meet someone who is dead, but I would have loved to meet Wangari Maathai, to thank her for inspiring us. I did not know that she too was divorced, abandoned by her husband. But she has shown me that if she could survive in this world alone and take care of her children, I can too!
FATIMA ADEN, Member, Kupi Banya Group, Marsabit
I am a widow with 9 children, 2 girls and 7 boys. I used to have a very hard time when looking for school fees for my children by myself. But this group has supported me. I have been able to take loans to pay school fees, and other members, seeing my situation, also help me. They also let me take a longer time than usual to pay back the loan.
The movie about Wangari Maathai has really inspired me to do something bigger in my life! Already, I am now able to buy more charcoal to sell, and I am able to make profits. Before we even saw this movie, we as the group were thinking about planting some trees and crops on a little farm we have been able to buy. We haven?t been able to do this yet because of severe water scarcity. When the rains come, which I know they will, we will start the tree nursery! If I had to meet one person from the film, I would want to meet the former President Moi, and I would ask him why he was so against women speaking out!
HALIMA IBRAHIM, Member, Kupi Banya Group, Marsabit
I am 40 years old, married with 6 children, 2 girls and 4 boys. I have benefitted from this group a lot. From the loan I took, I have been able to buy stocks of firewood to sell to the community. I have been able to also pay my children?s school fees. I dream of my children, all of them, including the girls, being able to go to college or university!
We are all so inspired by the movie. We as women do so much in the home, we collect firewood, we cook, and we take care of the children. I think we can do much more for the community. Education is the road to success. We can voice ideas such as having a harambee (fundraising) for the children who cannot go to school, so we ensure that they go. Our dream as a group is to start our tree-planting. I am lucky that my husband really supports me and my decision to be part of this group. When I want to take a loan, I sit with him and we consult each other so we make the best decision.
Many of us women sell charcoal, and we cut down trees for that. I personally have never thought of the impact of that. Today, after the film and discussions after, I have realized how much more important trees are, and have learnt that even if we continue selling charcoal, every time we cut a tree down, we must plant two in its place. I will change the way I cut the trees now, cutting off only branches without destroying the whole tree!
SALLO SHUNNE, Member, Kupi Banya Group, Marsabit
I am 46 years old, married, and have 7 children; 2 girls and 5 boys. After joining the group, my life has really changed for the better. I have been able to start up many business activities. When we started the group, my husband was very ill, and the group Social Fund and loans helped me take him to hospital and make sure he got treated.
I also started buying big stones from a quarry nearby. I single-handedly break the stones into smaller pieces that can be used for construction. It takes me a month to break enough stones down to fill a truck with smaller stones or pebbles! I am so strong at this now; I can bet that some of CARE?s male staff may not even be able to do this work!
I also used some of the smaller stones to extend my own home, adding three rooms to the house! This is traditionally the man?s job, but the GSL group has helped empower me as much as a man! I can also regularly provide food for my family. My husband is much better, and supports me in my decision to be part of the group. He also helps me with extra funds if I don?t have enough for my monthly contribution to the group.
This GSL has not only helped us, but has also become a great help to the entire village. Non-group members can take loans from us and pay them back with higher interest, and we as a group are able to contribute towards community fundraising initiatives.
I am very inspired by the movie, and I think all the group?s women will agree with me when I say we plan to take up tree planting very strongly! If Wangari Maathai was alive and I could meet her, I would want to learn more from her, to find out how she managed to do all that she did, while still being a woman and being a mother. Because to me, that is no easy feat!