Recent Stories from Kenya and India

Posted on May 3, 2018

In addition to the tales brought back by Program Director Sarah Northrop, we have some stories from a recent trip to India. Current Board members Marian Beane and Doug Smith, accompanied by former Board member David Camp, spent 10 days visiting projects in India in late January.

KENYA

Juhudi Women GroupĀ is a group the RSWR team helped form and train as part of the new Capacity Building Training. The group had 5 training sessions with Field Representative Samson Ababu and Trainer Pauline Andisi Musinga before they wrote their proposal, and the benefits were evident; they were organized and knowledgeable, and their businesses are thriving. The women all do business together in a large market. The group is a mixture of tribes and religions, including several Quakers and Muslims.

Aisha Khamisi is the chairwoman of Juhudi Women Group. She is shown here with a stockpile of the charcoal she buys wholesale and then sells in small amounts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matumba, or used clothing. This is a thriving business in Kenya. The clothes come from the USA and Europe and are sold in bales for resale in the local markets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sigira Friends Women Group is a part of Bware Yearly Meeting, which is the first Kenyan Yearly Meeting to have a woman presiding clerk. Sarah observed the group receiving a Business Management training from RSWR Trainer Lotan Migaliza. The women listened diligently and asked good questions. Geographically, the group is located where the lands of many tribes meet and as such is made up of a mix of tribes. The Secretary of the group is a Luo, the Treasurer is a Kisii, the Chairlady is a Luhya, and the Loan Committee Representative is a Kikuyu. It is exciting to see the positive effect these women are having on their community.

Sigira Friends Women Group in front of their new meetinghouse

INDIA

 

Vasantham Pengal Sangam thatch-making

Doug, Marian, and David were able to visit several income-generating projects facilitated by Vasantham Pengal Sangam in Tiruchirappalli District. One involved tarp-making: heavy commercial plastic bags, once empty, are cleaned and sewn into tarps. Another group was making thatch, using palm leaves. The members of the group, who was in good spirits, related how much their incomes had increased since they had become independent of an employer. The visitors also spent time with a group making coir rope, which uses dried coconut husks and a machine that takes four women to operate.

A self-help group under the care of Kalanjium Trust is located in an agricultural village in Pudukottai District. Virtually all the projects involve agriculture: milk-handling (gathered from one-cow families, combined, and sold to a processor), creation of milk products (ghee, yogurt, etc.), sales of products from stalls, gardening or raising vegetables for sale, and raising grain (millet in particular). The self-help group is comprised of Hindus and Muslims working well together. Marian, Doug, and David had a very pleasant meeting with the group and were impressed by the competent NGO leadership.