When you travel in Northern Kenya, you see poverty. Deep, painful poverty.
But when I meet with the women in our program, I see something else. In their beaming faces, I see the pride of accomplishment and the freedom to determine their own future. They are the picture I carry in my heart—a picture of hope.
In September, I met with a young woman named Marsogoso in the rural village of Matarbah. (You can see Marsogoso and her children in the photo below.) For me, Marsogoso illuminates what it means to be poor, but still live in hope. I wanted you to meet Marsogoso … through her own words:
“Mama Rungu, we know the sun is getting harsher, but we want to say thank you.
When this money was given to us, we got confused. We were worried. Be careful! We thought BOMA would take us to police if we wasted this money. We put the money in a box in a box in a box. We used half to buy things for our shop and saved half. Then we became experts. The savings box helped us relax. Now we save every week and it has really helped us.
At first, when we started this business, the men and the elders were mocking us. We would take the lorry to Marsabit to buy stock for our businesses and the men would say, ‘These women. What are they up to?’
Here is my mother. She is here [in the business].My father raises livestock. He wanted to send my brother to school, but there were no buyers for our goats.
My father came to me. ‘Girl, is there anything out of this thing you are driving?’
So I went to my group to ask them if I could take money from our business group for school fees. We were not sure that this was right. So we went to Judy and Ali [the BOMA Village Mentors for Kargi] and asked them, ‘This money belongs to BOMA.Can we use it for this, for school fees?’
Judy and Ali told us that this is the best thing to support.
This is when we supported a loan for school fees and my brother, this boy, went to school in Isiolo.
Then my father went to the shrine in the middle of the village. He told the men, ‘We have seen what these women can do. Please tell the men of this village to support their women who are in these businesses.They should show them respect. No man should underestimate the strength of these women.’”
I believe that the sentiments of this blessed season—joy, faith, love and hope—are possible when we commit to the well-being of another person. I believe that small acts can inspire moments of transformation, even in small villages in remote Northern Kenya.