As the festive season approaches, I would like to thank all of you who gave hope to the families of young mothers around Kilifi County throughout the year.
In the previous times, we’ve seen the challenges that girls face in our communities. We have seen them dropping out of school for many reasons. Socially ascribed gender roles continue to discriminate them from finishing their education. Dreams are shattered and hope is lost. We have seen them being forced into premature marriages through frustration – once a girl, now a mother, at only 16 years of age or less. High poverty levels in Kilifi county have resulted in increased cases of teenage pregnancy , this is indicated by research done by DSW Kenya , revealed that the fertility rate is at 5% as compared to the national fertility rate of 3.9%. According to the US Aid, it was estimated in 2010 that 52 million girls under the age of 18 years are married of by their families each year. The society ignores their plight and calls them promiscuous. Their own families disown them forcing them to do menial jobs to fend for food and medicines for their children. Such is the case of certain young girls in Kilifi County, Matsangoni location.
What have we done?
A few weeks after settling in as community volunteers August 2016 (Abraham Kibet, George Wambua and Michael kamau who joined us later in the team) in Malindi, kilifi County. One day we sat under a mango tree with our host, she told us that her dream was to see the young girls whom she thought in primary school would be successful in life. Women who the society can depend on and act as role models for the other girls but that was the opposite of the situation. The young girls whom she had admired were trapped in abject poverty, teenage mothers and school drop outs. We thought on how we could be a change in the society that was going down in drains. Abraham had a lot of knowledge in Agriculture whilst he had degree in Agroforestry and George was a graduate in Agribusiness and Michael graduate in Food science. We settled on Agriculture as a way of sustaining their lives.
We mobilized them into groups and held several meetings so as to come up with group projects. We also approached several donors who shared our vision. These are the KCB group, Uwezo fund. Not to forget the priceless donation of a piece of land by Mkongani Worship Centre.
We had settled on agriculture, we had to make an agreement on which way and what was to be farmed. We later all settled on vertical bag farming technology and farm Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) it’s expensive in the market and has other health benefits. Vertical bag farming is a modern climate smart agriculture technology for raising crops. Vertical bag farming tend to maximize the usage of small parcel of land producing maximum production per unit area. This is practical in the sense that the bags are set in 1M apart with each bag carrying 100 seedlings of any the vegetable to opt to use. Vertical bag helps in controlling soil erosion, loss of soil fertility and excessive tillage of land in the case that the crops were planted normal on the ground. It required in-depth training so some of us had to travel to the Thika demonstration farm (Real Impact).
A total of 100 bags were procured at a cost of 1000 each. They were distributed across various groups in Kilifi County. We mobilized the efforts of the young mothers to set-up the bags. We also made monetary contributions towards buying raised seedlings from Plant Raisers in Isinya (Kajiado County) and the frequent trips we made to meeting with the young mother and also training them.
A time for hope. We did it!
Most recently, we received a call from the young mothers. They had just made their first sale of the harvest. They sold the crop at a cost of 80ksh per kilogram which is very impressive. With the proceeds, they can now payoff medical insurance covers (NHIF), money to educate their children, provide a balanced diet meal for their children to avoid cases of malnutrition which is high within the region. They no longer also have to worry about food because they have it in plenty. We also contacted the KCB group to help the young mothers in financial literacy.
This could not have been possible without the dedication George Wambua, Abraham Kibet and Michael Kamau gave . We worked tirelessly as volunteers to ensure that the gap was filled in our community of deployment. We are greatly indebted to all of you that donated to support this great cause. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Morris Kubo, the Kilifi County Coordinator for G-United Kenya for your tremendous support.
Thank you all for changing lives.