Saturday, January 28, 2012 8:31 AM
“But those who trust in the Lord shall renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint" Isaiah 40:31
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When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."  ~Erma Bombeck

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This website was sponsored by

Dr. Marylyn Rands

Dr. Marylyn is a retired college professor who focused her teaching on helping young women grow strong and confident.

Click here to read more about her article


 

STORIES OF SURVIVAL AND HOPE- MT-ELGON WOMEN GROUPS

A team of guests from Dulwich center foundation visited women groups that Mt. Elgon Self-Help Community Project is working with. This is their story...

In October 2009 I had the enormous privilege of visiting about 20 women in their homes who are part of the Mt Elgon Self Help Community Project. Daniel Wekesa, who works with Mt Elgon, took me to visit the women and played the role of interpreter in our conversations. The women warmly welcomed me into their homes which were clean and often decorated with embroidered and crocheted cloth.  Each of these women contribute to a pool of collective savings which is lent out to help women start small business initiatives, including rural projects (crops, poultry, goats, cows), cooking projects, running a hotel, buying and selling fruit. The women meet twice a month to make their contributions to the collective savings and discuss projects they will support. The money is kept in a wooden box that is kept by the treasurer but she does not keep the keys. The money contributed is recorded in a book by the secretary and each woman has her own records in a book. I was able to visit two of these meetings while I was there.

The Tree of Life

The women told me they joined the Mt Elgon project because they were attracted to the training offered. Some of them told me they had never received training in their life before. They were initially trained using “The Tree of Life”. Women told me that from this training they learned to understand their roots and think about what they inherited from their parents and grandparents, the things they learned from their predecessors. They also learned to see themselves as branches where they are reaching out and giving. They also learned about good fruits – saving, good farming, good nutrition.

The women shared some of their learnings:-

“I can see my foundations and how I grow from what my parents taught me.”
“I see myself as one of the branches, giving to others.”
“I have learned to save and take my children to school. I no longer have disease in my home.”
“I started a small business… and I have been able to give chickens to my children.”
“My children are now practicing the same.”
“I have given my children some portions of land and they have planted beans, sorghum and cassava.”
“I started planting and with my savings I was able to buy a milk cow. I sold one of her calves and was able to send my son to college.”
 “I was encouraged to save half and eat half.”
“From the savings from farming I was able to buy a grinding machine and then a cow. Farming is difficult but having the machine makes it easier.”
“I was given the money on credit and this was so important. I was able to plant sugar cane, cassava and bananas which help me to send my children to school. “
“We were given a house. I thank God for this good house. I don’t have to shiver when the rain comes. No more insects biting us. No house has such a good floor. Our children are happy and healthy.”
“We work together as a family so all the family members learn as well.”
“I feel more enlightened. I know things I didn’t know.”
“5 years ago I first started to plant beans. I went on planting beans 2 times a year, whereby I sold the beans to our local markets. I manage to get money and I bought 2 goats… and I got 4 kids. I sold all the goats and I get the money and I bought this cow I have. Now this cow have two calves which I have sold to pay school fees for my children. After the births it gives me 10 litres of milk per day which I take some money to my group for savings.”

The Gift of Giving

Every woman spoke of the “gift of giving”. This idea appeared to be a foundation for the project. Through the project the women saw in a very practical way that the more they gave, the more they received. They spoke of giving contributions to the collective and also to their children, they spoke to contributing to the care of orphans and widows.  Women told me:-
“The hand that gives is more blessed than the hand that receives.”
“When I show generosity I get blessings back.”
“I try to help others grow the same way I am growing. I talk to my neighbours and help my neighbours.”
“I am giving to my children and teaching them the same.”

Every woman I visited gave me something before I left – usually an egg, a piece of fruit or a meal. It was very humbling.
There was also much thankfulness expressed:-
“When we were given a house we thought, ‘Where did this come from?’ and we came to know God and we now have a Church of friends... We are thankful to God for good hearts. We are thankful to Mt Elgon for friendship and a nice life.”

Self Reliance

“I am almost self reliant.”
“My life is changed. I am no longer dependent on my husband. My husband helps me with the business but I have independence.”
“Self help is important. I feel proud of myself.”
“My life has changed because I can now stand on my own.”
“When a woman starts with Mt Elgon she can work like a man. When her husband dies she can remain strong.”
“I look to myself rather than looking outside for help.”

Staying strong

All the women I met were bringing up children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and some were looking after orphans. They were busy. They told me sometimes they would get tired.  I asked what helped them to keep going and was told about their faith, the role of meeting with other women, and some good practical self care.

“Trusting God, going to Church, and being comforted by fellow Christians.”

“Having the savings keeps me strong. This gives me the inspiration to keep going.”
“Meeting with the other women twice a month helps me to be strong. They encourage me.”

“In the meetings we share the feelings of one another.”
“Drinking milk gives me energy. Prayers keep me strong in my heart. My parents taught me to pray. They did this too.”
“The project gives me knowledge and purpose which keeps me strong. In the meetings the women encourage one another.”
“In the group we have a shared idea and a shared hope for the future. The group has unity.”
“Coming together as a group we can ask from one another for help to get the money to stand on our own.”
”In the group we have good manners.”

“As women we come together and talk and come up with an answer for our problems.”
“Seeing things happen gives me faith.”
“The community give us more respect being part of Mt Elgon project.”
“When I finish work I have a bath and milk tea.”

Hopes and Dreams

Every woman told me that the reason they were doing the work and saving was to give their children a good education. They told me that they saw that people who had an education were happier and they wanted this for their children.

Buy the solar sustem from us. We are producing solar panels from 1 watt to 100 watts with the aim of generation local income to support the work of the organisation. Email us here for the price list.

Awards

Mt. Elgon Self-Help Community Project on 10th/November/ 2011 won a green award by International Labour Organisation under the Youth Entreprenureship Facility.>> read more

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