Honoring the Inspiring Women of SANGO-Kenya
International Women’s Day, observed every year on March 8th, is a global celebration of women — their challenges, triumphs, and the importance of gender equality.
We now have nearly 250 women who are participating in SANGO-Kenya because they want to face their challenges of feeding their families head-on, not just for themselves, but for the health of their children and grandchildren. These women exemplify everything that International Women’s Day is trying to communicate: Women who are inspiring, tirelessly and continuously working to improve their lives, eager to learn, and always positive.
Our Kenyan team, Winnie, Evance, and Peter, recently arranged for me to speak to several of the farmers so I could hear first-hand what their day-to-day lives are like. I knew that they are all incredibly busy, but they have more responsibilities than I ever imagined. They spoke very honestly about the challenges they face, the goals for themselves and their children, and what their participation in SANGO-Kenya has meant to them.
Winnie, Evance, and Peter called me from farmers’ homes so I could speak with them directly. In addition to hearing their stories, it was also great to hear their voices – and at the end we even saw each other over video.
They were all incredibly open and personal, and the messages they were communicating came through very clearly. “I don’t want my children to have the same life that I do; I don’t want their children to have the same life. I want the girls to go to college or university,” stated one of the farmers.
But that is much easier said than done.
The women are essentially responsible for everything pertaining to the children and the household. They work from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep: fetching water, getting the children ready for school, buying what they need at the market, cleaning, preparing all of the meals, doing the household farming, helping the children with schoolwork, taking care of the sick. …the list is endless.
The mothers also often have to pay all of their children’s school fees, household items, food, and health costs. “Some of the fathers help out with some of the money — paying for school fees or food. But the mothers do all of the work, and when the father doesn’t pay, the mother must come up with all of the money. So, on top of all of their other responsibilities, many have jobs or small businesses,” said Winnie, our Project Officer.
Still, sometimes the money just isn’t there. “Last January, I hadn’t been paid at my job, so I couldn’t pay the school fees. My children were kicked out of school until I did,” reported one of the farmers.
Improving Food, Nutrition, Security — and Sustainability
With all of their other responsibilities, the women are still committed to SANGO-Kenya. They know that we began by partnering with mothers, asking them about the greatest challenges they faced in terms of food security and nutrition, and we have been continuously developing the program to meet those needs.
They all talked about how much being in the program has helped in very key ways. Growing the vegetables saves them money because they don’t have to buy them. Some have grown enough to sell the surplus, using the extra cash for school fees, household items, and health costs. Even those who work said that they can get more money from selling the vegetables than they do from their jobs – but they need both.
They also reported that they and their children are healthier. They see it in their skin. They are sick less frequently, make fewer trips to the hospital.
“I have gained so much knowledge from SANGO-Kenya about farming and nutrition,” stated one of the farmers. “If SANGO-Kenya goes to another village, or I move, I will take this knowledge with me,” she continued.
We have also introduced savings and loaning programs that can help the women save their money so they will be better able to cover expenses — which are ever increasing, due to the current economy, the residual effects of COVID, and the war in Ukraine.
And they have gained confidence. They feel respected in their families and in their communities. They are setting examples for their children, especially their daughters.
And they have gained lasting friendships.
We have achieved all of this — the women have achieved so much — thanks to the generosity of our donors that has made possible SANGO-Kenya’s programs. And, unlike the schools, SANGO-Kenya charges no fees.
One woman even said that what she had learned from SANGO-Kenya’s educational programs was similar to what she would have learned had she been able to stay in school.
And still, there is much more we need to do, we can do, with your help.
SANGO-Kenya farmers, Winnie, Evance, Peter, Constance, and Kit
Your generosity has made all of SANGO-Kenya’s programs possible. Your tax-deductible donation today will help SANGO-Kenya continue to recruit, train, and support more farmers so they can improve their nutrition, food, and economic security for themselves and their families. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you.
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Write me! I love hearing from you! kit@SANGO-Kenya.org