TGI Friday!

Phew! Busy one this Friday.

We had a ferry to catch so we set off early and shot up the hill halfway in to town to check on Mama Amos. Amos has cerebral palsy and had not been doing very well until a few months ago – now his mum carries him to our weekly session for his milk and peanut butter and he is looking much better. She had been selling a few vegetables and had started going out to work as a labourer, leaving Amos alone in the house, to make ends meet so we have boosted up her stall with more stock and left a corner seat for Amos to sit in for a short while each day to stretch out his limbs.

Across the water on a 30 minute ferry ride across the bay,

we went to see Bibi Martin, a grandmother taking care of her 5 grandchildren and their mother and aunt, both of whom have some form of mental illness .

We had set her up with dagaa (dried fish) and onions to sell from out side her home as people walk past her path on the way to and from the school and the well.  Anna advised Bibi again about getting a contraceptive implant for Martin’s mother as she seems to seek out partners and  her mental state is often taken advantage of.

Back across the water and we  dropped in on Mama Angela to check on her clothes business. Angela is nearly 2 and was very malnourished. We had not been sure about Mama Angela’s ability to run a business as it had taken her a while to grasp the idea of just giving the extra peanut butter to Angela, not sharing it amongst the whole family, but she had taken to selling clothes like the proverbial duck to water and had money to ‘buy’ another bundle of clothes from us .  We don’t really sell her the clothes – they are her business set-up but we are holding back the clothes and training her to think in terms of saving money and purchasing her capital bundles. She was very pleased to see us!

We stopped off at Mama Zawadi unannounced and found her hastily adjusting her clothing and shaking a bit. On the pretext of checking her mosquito net, Anna went in to her rented room and found a man in there! Apparently her uncle though we were somewhat sceptical about that! It won’t stop us supporting her but the lie is more worrying than her finding a new partner after her husband left her , so we were more cautious with our set -up and gave her money for only one bucket of dried fish. If she does well and does not appear to be supported by this man, we will increase her stock next month.

Then off to the Jafari twins to set their aunt up with a dagaa (dried fish)business. Their dad is working as an Askari (a guard) for a private house but does not earn enough money to support his six children so he had moved near to his unmarried sister and mother to get support.  The twins, previously identical , can now be told apart by the scar on Kulwa (first born)’s head where she fell down the steps. The drop just outside their door is horrifying so Hassan and I fashioned a type of barrier with rope . We told them to cover it with old plastic bags though as new rope  is an expensive item and is likely to be stolen if people see it. Shangazi (aunt) and Dad were adamant that they did not want a hand-out and wanted to arrange how they would be paying back the money. We told them to bring us 10,000 shillings (about £3)  a month – and we will put it aside for them to give back as a bonus or to buy goods for their house.

Then out to  the far side of the airport to catch up to Baba  Happy and Levo and the business setup by Twickenham -upon-Thames Rotary Club. Baba is still out fishing on the lake around 3 days a week but spends the rest of the time manning the duka (small shop) that we stocked up for him. He was left with 7 children, including the little twins, when their mum died. His parents help out a lot but having the shop is giving him a big boost to his income on non-fishing days and he has made real effort to arrange everything in it nicely.

Jonas and Enos A final set of twins for the day , We visited the aunt of Jonas and Enos whose mother died when they were five months old from Yellow Fever . The aunt had a hair salon but after paying for the funeral of the twins’ mother and of her father, she had used up most of her profit and could not stock the salon with false hair for weaving, hair straighteners and conditioners, curlers etc so we asked her to make a list and bring it in to us of the stock that she needed so we could work out what we could help her with . Re-stocked with some good quality basics , she should be able to build up her capital base again.

It’s been a good day today . About 70 bumpy miles covered. And the pride these people show in being able to earn their own little bit of money and learn new skills is incredibly humbling and uplifting at the same time.

3 thoughts on “TGI Friday!

  1. Very good to see our name (TUT Rotary club) mentioned. It is interesting that the help is mostly needed by the young mothers with children. Where are the men? Are they self sufficient? Do they not support their children? Do all these people live outside of villages and other communities? Can they not cluster together and have a group emergency support fund or similar? Any Rotary or Lion or Round table clubs nearby?
    Well done

      1. Hi. Will forward the full thank you email to Rotary shortly.

        But yes, the family roles here are very traditional with dads working and mums looking after the children, so if a mum dies as in most cases we support, the dad needs to enlist female support. Without it, the child is likely to be removed and returned to him as a toddler (see Blog called And Dad Came Too). So from our current active case load of 90 families only around 10 are headed by fathers. Ones like Happy and Levo’s family in the blog – we put in businesses for the dad, and the children are looked after by thier grandmother; others like the Jofaris, we support the female relative as she is the one most focused on the welfare of the children. Mama Angela does have a husband but he is unskilled so can only get cheap labour work for around 3000 shillings (£1 a week) . Mama Amos has a disabled child so her husband kicked her out ( sadly a frequent occurrence) and Enos and JOnas’ father was killed in a road accident. Many families do have the money and resources to support themselves – those we may see just for formula milk if the mother has died ( only the extremely rich can pay for formula milk) and they do not need other business support. Other families live in networks of relatives who are able to support them through hard times or physically help with childcare or running a buinesss. Our work starts with a malnourished , usually motherless baby, and we tend to get referrals from hospitals and local community leaders where they know there is very little other support for the family available. We teach money management as well as business skills and a range of health, hygiene and nutrition training to try to encourage independence and, for many, its enough of a leg up to move them out of the stage of poverty they were in. I’ve tried to contact a local Rotary Club through Facebook and email and not had responses. If you have any contacts through your network, please do let them know what we are about – or wangle me an invite to their meeting! Thank you so much for your interest in the work.

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