HOW CBOs ARE ENGAGED IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE ‘CLEANSING RITUAL’ IN WESTERN KENYA

A woman seated on a chair with ash smeared on her face. She is carrying a small child crying and beside her is a short girl standing

Widows are subjected to cleansing rituals in some parts of Kenya

When a husband passes away in western Kenya, it represents not only the loss of a spouse but also the passing of a provider for the family and a change in the woman’s standing within the community. In the traditional culture, the widow must undergo purification following the spouse’s passing.

The ritual requires widows to have sex with strangers who are sometimes HIV-positive and do not use protection. The sexual cleansing is done as part of the transition process for the widow to become eligible to remarry and is also conducted to cleanse the widow of evil spirits resulting from the death of her husband.

After the cleansing has taken place, the widow is expected to be inherited by a man, traditionally an in-law. In recent days, in-laws are now less willing to inherit a widow due to the economic burden, which has led to men who are not relatives asking for payment to perform the rituals.

Entrenched tradition, poverty, and hunger are some of the main challenges that these community organizations face in the quest to stop women from agreeing to participate in the cleansing. Poverty makes the widow agree to participate in the ritual so the man can take care of her and the children.

The CBOs that are non-profits are now supporting women’s groups that have come together to reverse the traditional practice. The groups meet once a week to offer solace, and advice to each other while preaching against the ritual to other women in the community.

As much as these women are doing something great to meet and try to stop the rituals, it’s not easy for them in the community. Many have faced death threats and some have been attacked for speaking against the practice.

The CBO has also formed men’s Barazas to try and speak to them and discourage the practice. The tradition, though, is so entrenched in the community that it’s very difficult to try and talk them out of it. The Kenyan government has also tried to enact an act that protects women against domestic violence and promotes gender equality but the act still goes on.

One of the interventions that the community-based organizations are carrying out to assist the widows in having a business of their own that can support their families is equipping these women with the skills necessary to enable them to make a living. Through their women’s organizations, the CBOs provide charity grants to help them launch businesses that say no to poverty and hunger.

The Goat Foundation is committed, in line with the sustainable development goals, to helping widows support their families through economic empowerment. We give the widow’s family a pair of goats as part of our contribution. Our intention is to give the recipients two goats—one male and one female—in the hopes that they will breed and produce additional goats.

Health- how to help solve access to healthcare for widows

 

How can widows access healthcare easily?

Universal access to health services has been touted as one of the contributing factors that led to the population explosion in some parts of Africa. People in regions that had access to the road and electricity network could comfortably visit a dispensary or a maternity ward whenever the need arose.

However, the universality of this access is not uniform. Populations living in marginalized areas of rural Africa face a series of challenges that limit their ability to access basic services such as education, health care, and government services. It could be worse. Widows living in these regions, not only have to contend with being regarded as outcasts, but they also have to fight prejudice and discrimination whenever they attempt to access health services. Woe unto a widow if she should ever fall pregnant.

Widows and women in general need access to reliable health services because of the harsh living conditions they have to endure in order to survive. Not only are they overworked and underpaid, but a poor diet predisposes them to many ailments that otherwise they would have fought off. Sexual violence and other forms of Gender Based violence are also prevalent in these marginal communities.

So, widows are always at risk of contracting the HIV virus, psychological trauma, and incurring bodily harm. In addition, they may face sexual violence from the communities they live within. In other cases, widows prefer over-the-counter medication after self-diagnosing and this may lead to health challenges in the future.

Health services also involve psychological assistance for widows suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a common ailment affecting widows who have been harassed, beaten, and had their property taken away from them. The trauma of these atrocities lives with them afterward and it will take the intervention of a professional counselor to make them recover. Given the scarcity of these professionals, widows may not know what they are suffering from and the PTSD condition may make them think they are “crazy.”

The focus on personal health problems that many widows face in developing nations could be shifted to policymakers. As such, I am going to look at the role of the government in addressing cases such as cervical cancer which is the second most common cancer amongst women under the age of 35 in the world, and the most prevalent cancer in developing countries.

Evidence shows that effective HPV screening programs can promote the early detection of cervical cancers.

The WHO suggests that countries should implement the control of cervical cancer by establishing a national cancer control program, and integrating cervical cancer into primary sexual and reproductive health services.

This obviously is a huge undertaking and the beneficiaries of these services may be women in urban centers. It is therefore important for advocacy groups to keep the government informed about the plight of this forgotten demographic.

Basic interventions at this juncture may include the following;

  • Establishing mobile clinics.
  • Free maternal services.
  • Subsidized treatment programs at government hospitals.
  • Health and hygiene training for widows by healthcare professionals.
  • Preventive interventions such as mosquito nets, emergency contraception, and vaccination.
  • Economic empowerment of widows to help them acquire good nutrition, work in less strenuous circumstances and be able to travel and access health services whenever necessary.

Health challenges for widows are numerous and daunting. But I am convinced that with determination and focus, organizations working with local leaders can find ways to bridge the gap in access to health services for widows.

 

WHY GENDER INCLUSIVITY ACROSS DEVELOPING NATIONS HOLDS KEY TO ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS.

Gender inclusion is a concept that transcends mere equality. It’s the notion that all services, opportunities, and establishments are open to all people and that male and female stereotypes do not define societal roles and expectations.

Gender inclusivity across developing nations is the only way to achieve sustainable development goals.

At The Goat Foundation, we are aware that in developing nations, the seeds that cause gender exclusion stem from customary laws and practices, gender stereotypes, and discrimination. We have observed too that ignorance, poverty, and the absence of robust laws and policies to reinforce the equitable inclusion of all genders in matters of development and social policy play a major role in perpetuating exclusion.

Sadly, women and girls have been on the receiving end of gender imbalance across Africa and other developing nations. This has created a situation where women have less opportunity to shape their lives and make decisions than men.

The relationship between gender inclusivity and gender equality is inverse. The higher the recorded adherence to a Gender Inclusive agenda, policies, and culture, the less the gap in gender equality is experienced.

According to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development, closing these gender gaps matters for development and policymaking.

Every aspect of gender inclusivity —access to education and health, economic opportunities, and voice within households and society—directly contributes toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).

For widows, most of whom have been forced into poverty by their communities, access to institutional services such as inheritance, education, and legal counsel still remains a challenge. This inhibits their freedom to participate in economic activity, income generation, education, and policy formulation.

Development across all genders is therefore a process of expanding freedoms equally for all people—male and female. Closing the gap in well-being between males and females is as much a part of development as is reducing income poverty.

It will do this in three main ways:

Women represent over 49 percent of the eligible labor force in developing countries and overall productivity will increase if their skills and talents are utilized fully.

Elimination of barriers against women working in certain sectors such as engineering or occupations like construction work could increase output by raising women’s participation and labor productivity by as much as 25 percent in some countries through better allocation of their skills and talents.

Second, greater control over household resources by women, either through their own earnings or cash transfers, can enhance countries’ growth prospects by changing spending in ways that benefit children.

Finally, empowering women as economic, political, and social actors can change policy choices and make institutions more representative of a range of voices.

For the avoidance of doubt, pursuing gender inclusivity in developing nations is akin to promoting gender equality. This is because, women have been marginalized and discriminated against for too long, and any effort at inclusivity basically refers to including women.

To bring about gender equality through inclusivity, policymakers need to focus their actions on five clear priorities:

  • Reducing the mortality rate of girls and women through GBV and diseases.
  • Eliminating remaining gender disadvantages in education.
  • Increasing women’s access to economic opportunity and thus earnings and productivity.
  • Giving women an equal voice in households and societies, and
  • Limiting the transmission of gender inequality across generations.

In order for these policies to succeed, new or additional action on multiple fronts such as the combination of more funding, coordinated efforts to foster innovation and learning, and more effective partnerships must be undertaken.

To completely assist widows The Goat Foundation advises that partnerships must also extend beyond those between governments and development agencies to include the private sector, civil society organizations, and academic institutions in developing and rich countries.

 

Why Cause capitalism seeks to reach out to low-income and widowed households across developing nations.

Widows in Kilifi county after receiving a pair of goats from The Goat Foundation.

Widows in Kilifi county after receiving a pair of goats from The Goat Foundation.

Widows across developing nations suffer immensely from social, economic, and political stigmatization. One in ten African women above the age of 14 is widowed, and six percent are divorced. The impact of their loss is the exclusion of economic and social rights as these are tied to having male figures in the households.

Most widows The Goat Foundation has interacted with across Kenya have attested to;

  • Having their immediate inlaws grab their property.
  • Losing their children to their husband’s lineage and starting from scratch in wealth creation.
  • Having no means of survival: few or no employment opportunities.
  • Stigma: culture, religion and are vulnerable to sexual violence and diseases.
  • Economic collapse: No access to agricultural resources and discriminatory trade policies.

Challenges widows across developing nations face.

According to the United Nations, many developing countries view widowhood as a source of shame and many are thought of as cursed. Such misconceptions can lead to widows being ostracized, abused, and worse. Research by HelpAge International, for instance, has found that in Tanzania hundreds of older women — mostly widows — have been killed because of accusations of being witches.

Poverty; a) Limited Access to credit

Many widows across developing nations are married young. They raise their families young too. In turn, their most productive years are occupied with catering to households.

As housewives, they have limited to no self-sufficiency skills. They fully depend on their husbands for financial provision.

In the case of the death of the sole breadwinner, they are ripped off their comfort and are subjected to hardship.

With low literacy levels, they have limited access to credit or an understanding of financial management.

  1. b) Limited rights to property ownership.

In Kitui, Kenya we came across a woman who had to start afresh after all her matrimonial property was grabbed by her in-laws.

This is the case for many widows.

No laws protect them against this form of abuse.

Read Joyce’s story here.

  1. c) Inheriting debts.

Many widows have had to inherit the debts of their deceased husbands.

With no form of employment, this puts them in a continuous cycle of debt.

  1. Violence in all its forms.

Across East Africa, there are communities that subject widows to harmful sexual practices. They are expected to be remarried to their husband’s close relatives.

This is done to ensure they have male figures who will provide for them.

Widows in such cases may suffer from diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Some widows are forcefully taken through demeaning practices such as public hair shaving.

How Cause capitalism is solving problems around widows.

The Goat Foundation team is headquartered in Nairobi and is headed by its founder Mr. Steve Down who with the support of partners and friends, earnestly set out to give hope to this marginalized demographic.

With the help of community organizers, religious leaders, and official local authorities, the foundation identified families of widows and orphans from impoverished regions as recipients of their aid.

The thinking behind the donation of 2 goats to every widow was that not only would these goats offer milk as a nutritional supplement and multiply by giving birth, but it was also an ideal substitute for the existing economy of subsistence crop farming.

 

 

 

Joyce Tabitha for The Goat Foundation

Thriving widows: How Kitui widows intend to put cause capitalism into action. 

 

Joyce Tabitha for The Goat Foundation

Joyce Tabitha narrates her journey through widowhood.

” The rains in Kitui have become short and unpredictable. Look at how crops are wilting on farms and how the earth is cracking. It is dry and to us farmers, this period has been chaotic. “says a distraught Joyce.

Like the 100 beneficiaries who received seed capital of 2 goats, Joyce is happy to have her pair. The region she hails from is categorized as part of the larger Arid and Semi-Arid areas in Kenya. Owing to climate change, the nature of Joyce’s business demands her to close shop.

” I am a farmer dependent on rainfall. If there is no rainfall, I cannot eat. I am also a widow with 5 children to feed. In our small table banking group, we converge with many other widowed women and 1 man to pool resources for economic productivity. The past few months have been hard, we have tried chicken farming and learned how to produce chicken feed from our gardens but still, the high cost of production does not allow us to fully delve into it. We started this group a few years ago when we realized the pain points of single-headed households.” Says a confident Joyce.

“Most widows are chased away from their matrimonial homes after they bury their husbands. They bear the burden of sole provision while they have no jobs. In our group, for example, some women dropped out of school. They do not have secondary school certificates leave alone credentials that will give them jobs. So, they opt to remarry and a few lucky ones start businesses.

Joyce gazes far into the horizon, lost in thoughts as if she was trying to picture the sudden curve her life had taken after her husband’s demise. Her face lightens up with new energy and she bursts out;

“This self-help group has uplifted many women around this area. Now that we have all received a pair of goats from The Goat Foundation, we are going to pool resources after our goats reproduce and start a proper lending system in this area. We are targeting widowed households. After selling the goats we should be able to raise capital for a start. This money will go into lending widows’ capital to start their businesses. We will teach them how to be entrepreneurial and in the spirit of cause capitalism ensure that we buy from their businesses too.”

Cause capitalism as a wave of change in business operations across Kitui.

The Loomba Foundation attributes widow poverty to an immediate loss of income that tips widows and their children into poverty, as well as deepening the poverty of families already on low incomes. To mitigate this, widows have been identified as a vulnerable group in need of empowerment.

Joyce Tabitha says her group’s vision was brought after The Goat Foundation’s CEO spoke about cause capitalism. He taught them a viable model for business operations that is symbiotic and guarantees long-term success.

The self-help group has pledged to empower and educate other widows on the benefits of self-reliance.

“As goats reproduce two times in a year, we will take the second set of kids and nurture them then sell. The first will be given to other widows as a continuing practice of cause capitalism. From selling, I assure you now widows in Kitui in the next 5 years will go to bed hungry or cry about school fees.

I have never witnessed such a project and I want to thank Steve Down and The Goat Foundation for thinking about widows. From Kitui, we say Asante sana.”

 

 

 

The United Nations observes 23 June as International Widows Day, to draw attention to the voices and experiences of widows and to galvanize the unique support that they need.

FOR OUR FOUNDATION IT IS ALL ABOUT GOATS

Many have been nonprofit organizations and foundations founded in Kenya. Each of these organisations supports one cause or another while aiming to resolve issues afflicting social or economic well-being, progress or development among communities.

A Unique Solution

The Goat Foundation offers a unique solution to address and empower a group of people that in most societies go unnoticed. For The Goat Foundation, it is all about widows. The foundation noticed a gap in the services that catered for the welfare widows. In most cases, widows were ignored and received negligible support from the societies in which they lived in, therefore, The Goat Foundation embarked on a mission to support and empower them. “How?” you might ask. Through providing hope by giving goats.

The Goat Foundation donates a pair of goats to the family of widows. One female and one male with the hope that the goats will procreate and multiply and from two goats, the recipient will get multiple goats that can support her and her family.

While marking this year’s International Widows Day, according to The Goat Foundation’s Chief Project Executive Anne Musau, the foundation projects to give 20 million goats to 10 million widows across the country in the next ten years.

The Goat Foundation’s Chief Project Executive, Anne Musau with beneficiaries of the goat giveback

Did not go Unnoticed

This great act has not gone unnoticed as women in communities that received these donations expressed their gratitude and applauded The Goat Foundation saying the donations had empowered them and made their families economically secure.

Local community leaders and those from the larger political realm have not let the foundation’s goodwill go unnoticed with most praising the efforts geared towards empowering their communities. The leaders agree that the donation of the 2 goats benefits not just the widow but also those around them as the goats procreate giving the widows an opportunity to empower themselves and those around them by sharing the produce from the goats or some even go a step further to donate a kid to another widow like themselves.

Kitui Member of Parliament – Hon. Benson Makali with other leaders and one beneficiary of the goat giveback in Kitui.

One thing the widows, community leaders, and political ones can agree on is that the efforts by The Goat Foundation could not have come at a more opportune moment. The efforts have seen a once forgotten, very important group of people are empowered and can once again smile in the reassurance that their pockets are a little heavier because of a rather unique avenue of empowerment.

FROM THE HEART OF A WIDOW

The Goat Foundation Founder, Steve Down at a Goat Giving ceremony in Machakos.

Losing a loved one is hard. Imagine losing your all abruptly. Losing your partner, your support system, and your greatest cheerleader. Life as you know it takes a drastic turn and believe me it becomes dark. The partner you lose is like losing a part of you. No book written under the sun can prepare you for this. It is a heavy transition and really, there is no getting used to it. You just learn or is it re-learn how to live life.

When my husband died he left with me. Ironical right? It was crazy, it was as if I was in a trance. How? He was not sick, he was whole and hearty. Got into his car, kissed his newborn child and me goodbye, and left for the day just like any other day. Before he left as if he could tell he would not return, he left his phone only to return and spend a few more minutes that turned into an hour and a half playing with his new daughter. He was running late but that did not seem to matter. When the phone calls became too many to bear, he left gave us his daily dose of affirmations and dad jokes, and left. That was it.

He went to work and the next time I would see his car it would take a minute for me to tell what type of a car it is. He had an accident on his way to work and his short life was cut short. Through the mourning period, I was in a trance, I was in a daze, and I barely remember any conversations I had at that time. It was difficult but here I am whole and hearty with a well-raised and blessed child thanks to God and generous and giving foundations such as the Goat Foundation. As a widow you need a village, you need a support system and a sustainable one because what next?

The Goat foundation is that village for many widows across the county. It is breaching the gap for widows who would otherwise have been forgotten. It is returning pride and smiles to the widows. The Goat foundation is not your ordinary nonprofit, it is a nonprofit that lives and pushes cause capitalism. Through their for-profit institution Financially Fit they channel resources to caring for and empowering widows in marginalized communities. No, they do not give them money because in today’s economy money comes and goes very easily and fast. They provide an empowering avenue for widows through goats. YES…. GOATS. For this cause, they give 100 widows 2 goats each. A male and female and I dare say this is a neat idea because goats, as you know, have the shortest gestational period and within no time a widow can move from having two goats to multiple with proper care of course.

As we marked International Widows Day a day that is hard for all widows alike. However, this one is a special one for the widows across the country that have so far been impacted by this great cause. The Goat Foundation’s promise is that 10 million widows will receive 20 million goats in the next 10 years. Now that is what we call Capitalism with a cause. Cause Capitalism brings abundance and a fair shot at wealth creation for all widows. God Bless Cause Capitalists worldwide.

Veronica Kanini speaking to the Goat Foundation

SHE DARES TO DREAM

A Chance Meeting

During a donation exercise by The Goat Foundation in Kitui Central, Kitui County, I was drawn to a lady of about 30 years. She wore jeans, a gray hoodie, and open slacks that were rather too fashionable. 

I watched as she energetically marshaled her local group of widows through the set program. She embodied the enterprising hope envisioned by conveners of The goat Foundation. I made a mental note to request an interview with her and find out what her story was. 

Six months later I sat across the bubbly lady named Mwende whose story was quite an eye-opener. 

“I am a businesswoman, so I have trained myself to read a customer before they open their mouth. This intuition has guided me to succeed in business and once, it saved my life”  

The Goat Foundation

Some recipients turned their lives around and begun giving as cause capitalists

 

She pauses for effect to see if she has my attention and then begins her narrative. 

“Let me tell you my story. It began ten years ago when…”

Tragedy and Redemption

Mwende got married right after finishing high school. Her husband was from Mwingi, a town that was near her rural home. He worked as a clinical officer at the Level-5 hospital in that town. Musyoka (not his real name) had courted her through her secondary school and after finishing her ‘O’ level examinations, she promptly packed her bags and moved in with him.

For the next 8 years, they lived happily as a married couple though they never got to formalize their union. The one consternating factor in her marriage was her inability to conceive. Her husband’s relatives whispered loudly urging him to get another wife. Her in-laws had performed medical telepathy that somehow diagnosed her, and not Musyoka, her husband as the offending culprit in that childless union.

As animosity grew against her, her husband remained faithful and refused to entertain village ‘advisers’ who made regular trips to their homes to consult on ‘family matters.’

Tragedy struck in July 2018, she lost her husband in a road accident. He had traveled to the capital city for an interview with a large private hospital. The grief and sorrow that soon overwhelmed her were compounded by the fact that her in-laws wanted her out of her matrimonial home as soon as the burial ceremony was over. The house she was being thrown out of had been fully purchased by her husband before he died. 

Clinging to Hope

Determined not to lose everything in her life, Mwende vowed to stay put and never leave the house and property she shared with her husband. What followed was a series of orchestrated threats, beatings by unknown intruders and social media bullying and verbal assaults. It appeared like all of a sudden all members of her husband’s family had something rude to say to her. 

With no one to turn to, since she had run away from home to get married, Mwende decided to visit an old friend from school. On her way out she picked up a bottle of water that she had left standing on her table. On her way out she took a sip of the water, disliked it for tasting funny and threw the bottle away. That was the last thing she remembered. 

Waking up three weeks later in a hospital a doctor told her how lucky she had been. A good Samaritan had seen her collapse as she walked and got assistance to take her to the hospital. Mwende was quite sure who and why she had got poisoned. Her in-laws wanted the house and property left by her husband. 

After being discharged, she traveled back to her hometown in Kituyi carrying nothing but the clothes she wore on her back. 

The journey to Fulfillment

“How did you manage to survive, get an income and become the woman you are today?” I ask her.

“At first it wasn’t easy, I suffered from the side effects of those drugs. Later on, I did menial jobs for a small fee.”

Through her hard work and determination, Mwende scraped enough money to purchase a plot where she currently resided. 

“The Goat Foundation gave me hope for a prosperous future that I frankly believe in,” says Mwende with a smile. 

My two goats have been through two gestations. I have five goats. I gave one out to a needy friend. I hope that by the end of the year, I will add two more goats to my herd. If all goes according to plan, I will use these goats as collateral to get a loan and open a salon in town. 

Then she told me one of the most astonishing things I have heard in a long time. 

“My salon will offer free hair services to needy children. I will give one free service for every customer that I serve” she says confidently.

“How can you afford that?” I ask her, still stunned. 

“Don’t worry about that. The universe has plenty of abundances. You give to receive, and I believe blessings will keep coming my way as long as I keep giving.” 

She smiles brilliantly and rises to signal the end of our interview.

What a lady!

The Goat Foundation: Widows have a reason to smile

UNPRECEDENTED PROGRESS FOR KENYAN WIDOWS

Progress Beyond Expectations

The Goat Foundation crossed milestones and made history in groundbreaking achievements that reflected the intention of their vision. By offering a pair of goats valued at $100 per family of widows, the foundation changed stereotypes about widows and transformed the thinking of entire communities about wealth and wealth creation.

A notable achievement was in the diet of families of widows who received these donations. They acquired food security and a chance for a balanced nutritional diet. The milk taken from goats was a crucial source of protein when consumed. The manure from goats was spread around vegetable gardens and this led to increased crop yields. The variety and resilience in food availability acted as insurance against starvation and hunger. 

Sustainable development brought by socio-economic empowerment

Sustainable development brought by socio-economic empowerment

Due to proper and regular feeding habits, children became healthier and were less susceptible to common infections. Healthy households implied that money that could have been spent on seeking treatment was saved or invested. Children were now able to attend school regularly, as absence due to prevented illnesses was reduced.

Education, Health and Nutrition

As mentioned earlier, families of widows started attending school regularly and were not sent home for lack of school fees. The family could now afford to sell their farm produce to pay school fees, with the knowledge that milk from goats could be harnessed to supplement their diet. 

School attendance brought new standards of hygiene, safety awareness and government recognition. In Kenya, it is illegal for a school-going child to be employed as a laborer, married off or subjected to any form of exploitation. This guaranteed legal protection to the children of widows.

The Goat Foundation has noted the uptick in commerce and vocational activities in some villages. It follows that before these donations were made, traditional players in the market were familiar with each other’s needs and trading became routine and even unprofitable.

The sudden infusion of new capital and market for goods and services revived industries that had sat idle for years. Basket making, weaving mats, fishing and a host of local industries sprung up to compete with one another. 

The social awareness that attended the emancipation of Kenyan widows made communities around them seek out other forms of social injustices and uproot them. An example is the legacy shops that for ages extorted their customers by charging exorbitant prices because of their monopoly.

The arrival of competing businesses mentioned earlier meant that old shopkeepers were shunned and new shops that offered fair competitive prices became the new hit. In the end, it benefited the rest of the community who were now able to access more goods at cheaper prices.

Environmental Sustainability & a Green Economy

These donations are also able to help widows and their families mitigate the socio-economic impact of climate change in their lives. Goats are a hardy breed and can survive drought conditions. During bountiful rains, the crops will do well and during drought, the goats would thrive, so families were cushioned against these two extremities.

In a community whose reliance on cultivated land was reduced by a fraction, there was less land cleared for agriculture and more trees planted. The practice of goat husbandry in these communities, therefore, meant that the impact of natural disasters such as floods was reduced as vegetation cover protected the soil from being washed away during heavy rains.

Children’s Rights

Widows' children have opportunities for education, training, balanced diet and legal protection.

Widows’ children have opportunities for education, training, balanced diet and legal protection.

A crucial and demonstrable impact of empowering widows through the donation of goats was the protection of children from exploitation. Families no longer required their young ones to work for food. Children could now spend their time at school or playing.

As widows became empowered and acquired a say in the community, they were now able to protect their daughters against gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and early marriages. Sexual exploitation that was visited upon needy girls especially young widows and daughters of widows was eliminated as they now had the economic means to fend for themselves. This had the impact of reducing HIV transmission, child trafficking, unwanted pregnancies and school drop-out cases. 

Clearly, a lot has been achieved, but there is more still to be done. The generosity of The Goat Foundation partners, and donors is what brought about this success. 

                   

THE FUTURE OF THE GOAT FOUNDATION

From Humble Beginnings Great Milestones

Beckon

The socio-economic changes sweeping across villages and rural communities once visited by The Goat Foundation have been unprecedented, and according to Dominic, a community leader from Kisii town in Western Kenya, akin to a social revolution.

The donation of a pair of goats to widows and orphans in far-flung areas across the country opened societies to the potential of women, and widows in particular. Communities bore witness to the improved livelihoods and general well-being of widows, who once empowered by the initial investment of two goats, chose to apply the bargaining power that came with it towards wealth generation.   

Paradigm Shift in Perceptions

Perhaps the most cited achievement was the elimination of the inequitable gender power relations. Economically empowered widows acquired a voice and were included in decision-making in discussions that affected the community.

Loan disbursement, land rights, and inheritance rights got advocated for by community activists. By elevating widows from a whispered and shunned demographic to a celebrated group of achievers, The Goat Foundation allowed women and widows to access land ownership and resources. Widows were now able to contest for the property of their departed husbands. 

Changing lives and communities all over the country

Changing lives and communities all over the country

These attainments not only had the universal effect of eliminating extreme poverty, violence, and health risks, but they also advanced the cause of women towards education, training and awareness about their human rights. 

With the increased legal literacy, these widows are now able to confront long-standing exclusionary ideals born out of patriarchal customary and religious norms. 

During a peace and reconciliation process in Kisii County, Western Kenya, neighboring communities sat to negotiate compensation and deterrence against future atrocities. Among the items on the agenda was the payment of restitution to widows whose husbands had been killed during a raid conducted by a neighboring community.

The fact that the welfare of widows was discussed in a traditional ceremony long reserved for male community elders was a game-changing event that resonated throughout the Abagusii community.

Future Plans

The Goat Foundation has not sat on its laurels with a congratulatory grin of satisfaction. In future, they envisage a partnership with donors, Cause champions, Corporates and Businesses in endeavors across the African continent and the world. 

In the meantime, as the winds of change blow across the sunbaked landscapes of rural Kenya, it is hoped that intransigent voices of traditional patriarchy will shift their allegiance from the outdated customary norm of female domination to the caring and just idea of equality for all.

Steve Down, the founder of The Goat Foundation, his Business and Corporate partners, and friends who donate and contribute towards Cause Capitalism look forward to yet another year of fruitful engagement with widows, community leaders and all those who believe in the art of giving.