I found myself in a community full of disenfranchised women with limited literacy. Having been raised in a very humble background, where it took a lot of effort for me to go to school, I identified with the needs of these women in my current community.
The community I grew in didn't value girl's education and I worked extraordinarily hard and passed so well that my father was left with nothing but to take me to school. He was ridiculed that he was wasting money. That he should wait for my brothers, younger than me, to spend on their education. That I would become pregnant anytime or get married anytime and run away from school and he would loose the money. He was ever wanting to drop but I kept assuring him that I would make him proud one day. So I worked extra hard in a small local school with no proper equipment and I made it to the university. I became the first girl in that community to make it to the university. I indeed made him proud. At this level, I broke the silence about the girls education and the community realized that even girls can go to school and achieve against all odds. From that day, many girls now accessed education, and there are many university graduates now.
My background experience motivated me to help the women be able to do something with their lives. I first introduced them to start up groups and do some activities together. We started with merry go round which brought them together and they contributed money and gave to two of them every month. I also trained them on basic business management and some of them picked up and did so well while majority were still stuck. I got opportunity as a result of this to go and train as an empowerment facilitator in the Empowerment Institute in NYC, USA. I got a new way to engage these women.
This methodology helps the women to become self aware and dream big and work to to achieve their dreams in all life areas. They are trained to skillfully work with their emotions; deepen their relationship with self and others; expand their world view and transform cultural limiting beliefs about sexuality and money; create a conscious relationship with their body and explore their unique way of engaging with life through work and spirituality as they focus deeper on questions about their purpose. This opens them up to a world of possibilities. Refer to Empowerment Institute website, IMAGINE program, for details
After the workshop, I train them to start table banking in stead of merry go round. Here they pull resources together as savings and loan some of them in need who go and meet their needs but pay back at a friendly interest rate. This motivates them to involve in income generating activities in order to raise money for savings and also to invest the loans for a better income. Some of them who had never done anything income generating before, after the training, dream big and start doing something with their lives which gives them livelihoods. They also have easy access to loans from the group which they use to start up their dream business. Since this is their own creation made out of finding their own truth, they work very hard to grow it and when they see positive results, they are motivated to do more.
As a result of this, some widows and single mothers have managed to provide for their children basic needs and even pay for their education for the first time in their lives without having to beg from people who often failed them. They are happier and their children both girls and boys are happier too than before. They are able to get what they need from their parents. Women with husbands are also able to assist their husbands in providing for their families and they have gained more love and respect from their spouses. Peace has prevailed in most marriages that used to suffer violence.
I feel so proud when I see these women happier and look healthier than before. I keep doing more and more for others who need the training. I have provided one of the houses in my compound to be a meeting hall for them where they come in turns to do the table banking which they do weekly. It is also in this room where I carry out Empowerment workshops. I feel proud being a leading torch bearer for these women who were formerly in darkness. I am also still going for more who need to be exposed to this training. I look forward to leading a team of empowered women who will one day be celebrated for having changed the community history.