Rural Women Take First steps from a “way of life” type of farming to Agribusiness
Empowering women requires a holistic approach to the challenges. To help women abandon FGM, structural gender inequalities must also be addressed. It is for this reason that HFAW provides economic empowerment strategies such as trainings not only in finance and entrepreneurship literacy but also best practices in farming.
We are excited to report that our community women took their first step in learning how to transform themselves from practicing animal husbandry as a way of life to becoming dairy farmers. This happened on October 16th to 18 when 25 of these committed women from 4 villages locally known as wards, embarked on a two day workshop with a local agricultural officer followed by a real life trip to the actual farm to view the process of dairy farming.
During the training the facilitator started from what the trainees know i.e. how and what they currently practice in their dairy farming in terms of breeding, feeding and marketing dairy products. The facilitator quoted the bible story ‘ When Moses was in the desert and requested God to give them water, he was asked by God to use the stick he was holding in his hand to strike a stone and get water for the Israelites. This was meant to encourage the women who wondered where to get new breeds to realize that they can use their current breeds of cattle to set short term goals to get better breeds.
The first day of the training elicited the following sentiments during an evaluation session in the evening. “ I am going to sell some of my cows and remain with one’ said Boke one of the trainees as she explained that she has learnt that she has a large head of cattle which does not give back earnings that break even with what she offers in terms of feed and treatment vs. sales from milk.
Another participant expressed how he was going to apply the knowledge and skills gained with the following statement, ‘Previously we used to give porridge to our calves incase the mother died but now we have learnt how to make colostrum using local resources’ said Daniel a trainee from Esise Ward.
The women were also trained on how to improve economic gains from dairy farming through value addition and diversification of milk from their cows. ‘I did not know I can make cooking oil with cream from my milk’ said Kwamboka after they were taught how to add value and diversify products from their milk.
Knowledge on feeding was also given to transform the farmers’ usual way of feeding according to the type of feed available. The practice has not been economical especially when there are cases of drought.‘ I am going to start preserving feed for my cows since I have known that preserved fodder and forage means continued flow of feed throughout the year and availability of feed for my cows means continued flow of milk and income too’ said Martha during feedback session.
The trainees were also taken for a field trip to see the things they were taught in class being applied in real life. At the end of the trip, the trainees had the following to say……‘I feel encouraged by Mr. Livingstone who started with a local cow which was worthless but with continuous work in improving her he has made a lot of gains. “This man has never been employed but see what he is doing, said Nyamusi from Mekenene village.
Another trainee inspired by the way the model farmer was using cow dung to produce biogas had this to say …… ‘I saw Mr. Livingstone use biogas for cooking. I was surprised he has used it since 2010. I am going to save and invest in such since we have a problem of firewood in our area yet I didn’t know my cows can be a source of energy too’ said Caren, one of HFAW grassroots leadership member.
The training also involved county livestock officers from the 4 wards that the farmers come from. They were also resourceful and will be involved in follow up among the farmers. ‘From what the county livestock officer taught us, I discovered that I should never have sold my calves but instead would have sold their mother since the offspring is always a better breed. I also saw how I will partition my zero grazing unit into feeding area, milking area, water point, sleeping area and feed storage area’ said Beatrice from Kiabonyoru Ward.
Two of the trainees gave their status before and after the field trip…one said…‘Before I came for this training I did not know anything about culling my livestock but now I know and I am going to do it. I also did not know that I should keep the tube I used for inseminating my cows for future referral with the veterinarian but now I know it is good to generally keep farm records’ said Nyangeri from Esise Ward.
The second trainee said that “It is after I came for this training that I understood why one day a veterinarian came to treat my cow and did not want to touch the dead calf with his hands. I now know that the cow was suffering from brucellosis and one is not supposed to get contact with the animal with bare hands” said Damaris from Nyansiongo Ward
The facilitator ended the session after guiding the group on how to register it with the social services office. This was a request by the trainees themselves who saw the need to do so. ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’ the facilitator encouraged them with this inspirational African quote about the value of teamwork in a group.
Dear Friend, colleague and partner, you have supported some of our projects which have allowed us to grow to reach these breakthroughs. We continue to seek your advice and support. The trainees require consistent technical assistance and support and additional trainings, mentoring and guidance to be able to realize positive outcomes. None of these can happen by our own effort. We invite you to consider making a donation and to send a request note to your friends and family. Tell them about this cause and why you care. Together we can improve lives of rural people through economic empowerment on best practices.
Female genital mutilation is passed from one generation to the next generation like a baton in a relay race. However, this can end in one generation if the generation is empowered to stop the harmful practice.
“My mother is from Kisii ethnic group while my father is from Luhya ethnic group in Kenya and Luhyas do not cut their girls and women. I remember the incidence happened during one of August holiday when I visited my grandmother in our Kisii rural home. One day she told me she will take me somewhere in the evening. I was excited but little did I know she was to take me for a cut. This happened in the night at 10.00p.m “, shared Kerubo* in one of our school outreaches.
Kerubo’s case was sensitive because her grandmother had lured her into being mutilated without her knowledge or even the knowledge of her parents. The incidence led to her mother being battered and chased away by the husband when he came to know about it. Kerubo’s cut led to an infection that had to be treated in hospital. This is how the father came to know that the daughter had been cut. He blamed Kerubo’s mother for not ‘taking care’ of their daughter due to the fact that she was not there to prevent their daughter from undergoing FGM.
“Will my performance in school be affected due to the fact that I was cut? what about my menstruation, is it true that it will it take longer than usual since I am cut?” She asked. We were keen to assure her that all will be well and that her performance will improve as long as she works hard in school. We assured her that through emotional support and the training she would soar to greater heights and heal emotionally. The above questions were a clear indicator of the myths and facts surrounding FGM and which could easily affect self esteem of a growing youth.
The youth trainees in primary school were keen to understand that it was up to them to say no to FGM as they are the future generation. “I now understand that if I say no to FGM and help my sisters not to undergo the same, I will be a great Anti-FGM ambassador”, said one of the boys at the end of the outreach session. “I will never allow my daughter to go through the cut, thank you Hope Foundation for African Women for the sensitization”, said one of the teachers.
HFAW has so far reached over 14 primary schools and sensitized over 5,000 pupils, over 500 parents and over 100 teachers on child protection and child abuse and GBV with a focus on FGM. Both the boys and girls, women and men agreed that they are consumers of FGM and it directly affects them.
In addition to reaching primary schools HFAW aims to recruit 50 youth ambassadors in churches and in youth groups. Each youth will also reach 50 more youth with Anti-FGM messages. The youth in Nyamira county are vibrant and very active learners, from our experience, they grasp issues easily and embrace change rapidly. We therefore appeal to your partnership through your kind donation that will enable us train these vibrant youth anti-FGM ambassadors in Nyamira County to take part in ending FGM in one generation. Thank you for your support and being with us every step of the way as we strive to end FGM.
Women in Leadership: HFAW Grassroots Chairpersons’ Story
“I am Caren N. Ratemo, a Christian and Kenyan woman from Kisii. I am married to Tom Nyakundi and we are blessed with four children. I am a survivor of FGM and the current Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) grassroots chairperson.
My first encounter with HFAW was when I was invited as a woman leader by our area Member of County Assembly (MCA) to attend a launching forum of the organization i.e. HFAW on 2nd April 2014 at Kijauri market, Borabu Sub County, Nyamira County, Kenya. On that day, I arrived early and was among the first people at the venue. I found the women preparing the venue with the support of men to erect tents and arranging chairs.
The day started well with educative presentations against FGM. When time came for Dr. Grace to present, I admired the way she was dressed. Moreover, her story moved me and after the event, I approached her and introduced myself. I requested if I could join the Popular Education training she mentioned that would start at Matutu Adventist Church after the launch.
Luckily, she honoured my request and joining the class of 30 CHRRP’s became one of the highest moments of my life. I liked the training; it was touching our personal lives issues and the community at large. I was a church leader, health promoter and Maendeleo ya Wanawake (Women And Development) leader in our Sub County by then. After the training, I said I must apply the knowledge in all the areas under my administration and jurisdiction.
For sure before I got the training, I had suffered in my marriage for over 20 years. My husband who is a teacher by profession had joined a group of peers whom they would drink alcohol throughout after his classes. I can generally say he never used to take care of his family; even paying rent for the house we lived in was difficult.
I decided as a woman was going to shut him out psychologically and bring up my children like a single mother who is married at the same time. I started a hotel business where I could raise money from and take care of my family including him. It was difficult to ask him whether he was paid and where he took his money. I could not dare ask such questions since they had previously warranted me to sleep out of our house plus a terrible beating.
As a Kisii woman, it was not easy to tell even my neighbor what I was undergoing. I decided to keep quiet and endure the hardship with hope that one day it will end. The cycle of violence repeated itself until I went through the Popular Education training through HFAW. It opened up my eyes, I realized I have rights that I can stand with, and dialogue with husband on what is right to do as well as what is wrong.
From then on, my husband changed for the better, using the skills I gained from the training, I talked with him and he became supportive. I slowly applied what we were trained through actions to guide him to understand that women too are equal partners in a family. He stopped overindulging in alcohol and opted to advance his education. He attended my graduation after Popular Education training and has been supporting me in the various leadership positions I get in my community. He now even shares what he gets in terms of finances. I thank our supporters because through them, most lives of women have changed. Moreover, through the women, more people’s lives have been positively influenced through the outreaches we do in churches, schools and markets."
Dear partner, HFAW as a non-profit has been working with women through empowering them on human rights, economic empowerment, self-advocacy skills and knowledge on how to end FGM. We are grateful for your continued support that will see more women come out of poverty and gender based violence. We also appeal for your kind donation towards this project. You previously made positive change possible; together we can transform communities!