A group member cleaning the rabbit hutch
Project Location: Kenya, Rift Valley Province, Nakuru District, Gilgil Division, Elementaita Village
Small Business to Support Girls Education in Kenya
The goal of this project is to create opportunities for women and girls in the village of Elementaita to earn money to help pay for school fees and provide funds for improved educational facilities and potable water by the purchase of water tanks. Many in the village do not have employment and this limits their ability to pay for essentials including school fees for their children’s education. These conditions are particularly true for women, thus our goal is to start two businesses – rabbit rearing and making and selling sanitary pads to generate income for women and girls. In this first report, we describe progress in the initial phase of the project, with a focus on rabbit rearing.
Rabbit rearing project: Forty women, all parents of school children, have joined together to initiate the project that will enable them to earn an income. Their goal is to use the income in several ways including to support their children in school by paying the necessary fees, as well as raise funds for community needs such as a building for the nursery/elementary school and water tanks.
Rabbit rearing was chosen because of the high nutritional value of rabbit meat and an opportunity to market the rabbits. The women learned about the need of a local restaurant for rabbit meat, thus providing a ready customer, so determined that it would be a good project for them. Because rabbits had not previously been raised in the area, we decided to start off with just a few rabbits to work out any problems. The women first constructed the rabbit hutches (see photos), then obtained the rabbits and have worked hard to maintain the rabbits. As a measure of their success the rabbits are thriving and two of the rabbits are pregnant. As additional funds are secured, and with reproductive success, more rabbits will breed and ultimately provide a self-sustaining business and steady income for the women. This will address a critical need especially since most children out of school are girls. Education for girls is vital to provide employment opportunities and thus reduce their vulnerability to HIV, early marriage and life-long lack of income and ability to make decisions for themselves.
An additional benefit to the rabbit rearing project is that it has created unity among the women of the village.. They are all working together to improve the lives of their children and to improve the lives of the community overall, as exemplified in the following quotes: Irene states, “It’s amazing how a small project-rabbit keeping has united us. We feel we now have something in common. The project will for sure be a source of income to us and will be able to use the money to address the problems we have in our village like paying school fees and the water shortage. Mama Fatuma Ali says, ”I never thought rabbits can be of any benefit since in the society it’s the boys who reared them as pet. I cannot wait to see the project expanding and we earn income from the project”.
The second project, making and selling sanitary towels is just beginning. To date, the girls in the group have been practicing making the reusable sanitary towels with needle and thread. Once the skills have been mastered, we will order supplies and begin production. More on this project in the next report.
With respect to the school building, planning is complete and construction for the school building is expected to begin by February-March 2011, pending securing adequate funding.
I started helping my community when I was awarded a PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress scholarship in 2005. Since I graduated from university and secured a position in my field, it is my privilege to work with PATHWAYS and Global Giving and you to continue to assist my community, especially women and girls. To see what some of the other PATHWAYS scholars are doing in their communities with their PATHWAYS budget of about $500 per year, go to www.pathwyaslp.org.
I will be sending you regular updates of progress on our small business project that will benefit especially girls in Kenya. Again, thank you for your generous contribution. Our community is changed for the better and women and girls have a better chance of success in life because of you.
Women in the group and their children
Monicah- PATHWAYS scholar and project leader