Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Imani Women's Group

Polygamy and the effects upon women in Kenya (specifically the area that I visited)

Polygamy in Africa is not seen as an alternative lifestyle as it is in other countries. Modern Africa is under pressure to adopt Western ways but African men are still encouraged to take pride in traditional African ways.

Wikipedia says:
Polygamy translates literally in Late Greek as "many married" is a marriage which includes more than two partners. When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, the relationship is called polygyny; and when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry.

Polygamy is permitted and practised in the areas of the world shaded in black.  It is very common in the area of Kenya that I visited whilst on a school expedition with Camps International.

Map of Tsavo area showing the town of Voi.

East Tsavo National Park. Voi is the largest town in Taita-Taveta County in southern Kenya,
Voi is a marketplace for the agricultural and meat products. The town centre consists of general stores, shops, markets, kiosks and a few hotels. Local history shows that the name of town comes from a slave trader called Chief Kivoi who settled near the Voi River over 400 years ago. The village grew as a trading centre for the local people alongside other Kenyan tribes. When the Uganda Railway was constructed at the end of the 19th century Voi grew even more to become a large town.

The main road through Voi attracts lots of traffic and this has contributed to the areas problem with prostitution.

Truck drivers passing through the area use the local women for sex paying a small amount of money. The prostitutes are desperate to pay for their children’s next meal and so the cycle of disease keeps going.
The women contract HIV and then pass it on to their husbands, and how the husbands pass it on to their multiple other wives.
This prostitution and polygamy causes a spread of HIV and AIDS across the country and
Polygamy as a natural part of Kenyan society plays a part in the spread of the disease.
Some young girls are forced into marriage at an early age. The husbands have several wives and the wives put up with this because they need food from the husband to feed their many children.
There is high poverty. The health care is not good and lots of children are born with HIV. There are many orphans due to disease.

There is HOPE!
Imani means HOPE in Swahili. The Imani women’s  Group started  in 2002. Located in  Itinyi village within the Voi area of Kenya. The group consists of a community of Kenyan Women who are working to make a better life.

Women of the Imani Women’s Group
Camps International first began to work with the Imani Women’s group in 2007.  Camps International had initially helped to improve the women’s facilities and embraced  the cultural exchange with the women  This led to the launch of Camp Imani and many incredible projects followed.
On expedition we spent some time with this group which is led by a lady called Mama Mercy.

Mama Mercy
Mama Mercy is an amazing lady who wanted to do something to help local women in her community. She is the driving force behind the Imani Women’s group and fights for  the rights of women in Kenya. The idea is to make sure that women and mothers have the education and knowledge to make the right choices.  They can then pass on what they have learned to future generations.
Mama Mercy has helped to  educate women about contraception, and health issues. There are still lots of children being born with HIV and Mama Mercy believes that education is the way forward. The group has also helped to provide housing and set up a school for orphans who have lost.
Mama Mercy has helped the local women to learn a skill to begin businesses such as beadwork and crafts to make jewellery to sell and get an income from.

Helping the Women's Group with beadwork

That way they would not have to rely on prostitution to make money.  They can support their families by earning their own money. This has proved successful for many women in the area

My research shows that education for young women in Kenya is important from as early an age as possible  then they can begin to make changes to their lives and these changes can be passed on to the next generation

Lily Myers Fundraising for Kenya

My first event was a Table Top Sale. Inviting local people to dig out their unwanted items and sell them. I charged £4 per table and my family sold refreshments. We made over £200!      

Fundraising for +Camps International expedition to Kenya.

Took 18 months and hard work but worth it!

I put an advert in our local newsletter asking for car boot items.  I was inundated with things. Those which were too good to car boot I put on Ebay.

Mother’s day came next
I had a lot of vintage tea cups and saucers given to me for car boots so I bought some spring bulbs and  got planting. I sold them for £4 each – so pretty!                                                          

Car Boot Car Boot
Car Boot – getting a bit fed up, we car booted throughout summer..very hard work!

Jamming in July!
My grandparents have a large garden and lots of fruit bushes. Mum helped me to make jam. I charged £2 - £2.50 a jar.
Redcurrant jelly, Blackcurrant, Raspberry and Gooseberry Jam was very popular.

Christmas Fayre      
Our small village has never had a proper Christmas Fayre so I contacted local small businesses and asked if they’d like to take part. We filled the hall with 15 stallholders and charged them £10 per table. My little brother and my cousin ran a tombola, Grandpa decorated the hall with lights and a lovely Christmas tree.
Mum baked loads of cakes and buns and Mum and Dad manned the kitchen making tea, coffee and mulled wine.  We opened the doors at 1pm and after a nervous five minutes hoping people would come – they started streaming in. All the stallholders said they had done well. This event was quite easy to organise and we will probably do it again next year as the local villagers really loved it.

Bag packing in Morrisons, a 10K fun run and the never ending car boots helped me to reach my target

I recently went to Kenya with +Camps International and spent some time with the Imani Women's Group.
As part of my ASDAN Cope Award I did some research into Voi Town and the problems faced by young women who live there

Due to the increased amount of young girls going into the world of prostitution the spread of HIV/AIDS has vastly conquered much of Kenya in a short period of time. Many girls lack the information and knowledge about learning about the practice of safe sex and using protection when being involved in sexual activates. Since girls are extremely vulnerable, living in poverty with no food or money they lack the opportunities for education or even employment.
Source Wikipedia
The Challenges faced by East Africa (source asanteafrica.org
141,000,000 people in East Africa live on less than $2 US/day. Typical family has 6 children. Cost of education remains the largest obstacle: $750 full board, $30 uniform/shoes, $30 school supplies. Low innovation and entrepreneurship contributes to high unemployment rates and dependency on foreign aid.
Access to Education
East Africa has high initial primary enrolment rates (>90%), but 30-40% of students leave before they complete primary school. In 2007, only 25% of elementary school students went on to high school because of the expenses. In 2006, 101 million children – more than half of them girls – were not attending primary school; the majority of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. Sexual violence, unsafe school environments and inadequate sanitation disproportionately affect girls’ self-esteem, participation and retention in school.
Quality of Education
East Africa struggles to provide quality education and infrastructure as indicated by student-to-teacher ratios, primary completion rates, secondary enrolment, and youth literacy rates.
Student-to-teacher ratios have increased in sub-Saharan Africa due to mandatory enrollment, creating an average ratio of 72 students to 1 teacher.
Four million new primary school teachers are needed in East Africa alone to reach the goal of universal primary education by 2015.
Crowded and dilapidated classrooms, coupled with insufficient teaching resources and instructional time, reflect well-below average standard of educational institutions. Advanced learning is impeded due to non-existent basic maths and science materials.

Voi Town is a market town in southern Kenya (Taita Taveta County), lying on the edge of the Tsavo National Park. It lies at the junction of the railway lines from Nairobi to Mombasa and Taveta. Also the Voi Sisal Estates are located near the town. Voi is also located near some Taita villages like, Ikanga and Mkwachunyi.
Voi's town centre consists of mostly general stores, shops, markets, kiosks and few hotels. Most lodges are located in the suburbs or on the edge of the small town. Voi is also home to a train station. Voi is located in the Taita-Taveta District, Coast Province. It recently became a district.
According to local history the name of town comes from a slave trader called Chief Kivoi who settled near the Voi river about 400 hundred years ago. There after the town grew as a trade post between the local Taita people, other Kenyan tribes and Arabs.
The town started to grow at the end of the 19th century when the Uganda Railway was constructed. People started to move in to work on the railway and the nearby sisal estates.
Source www.voimunicipal.org