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

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