A group of women seated under a tent looking at two women standing in front of them.

THE STRUGGLE OF A WIDOW AGAINST DOGMA  AND STIGMATIZATION

Written by Thomas Kagwa

A group of women seated under a tent looking at two women standing in front of them.

Widows celebrating during the 7th Goat Foundation Cause giveback.

Joyce (not her real name) is a widow from Kilifi, Kenya. She supports a household of 12, both children and grandchildren, despite the limited economic opportunities in the Coast region that reflect the ongoing crises and prevalent gender inequality. Joyce is just one of the millions of widows around the world who struggle to claim their equal human rights after the loss of a husband; an event that can lead to enduring poverty for women and their families.

Although accurate information is limited, it has been estimated that there are some 285 million widows around the world, with over 115 million of them living in deep poverty. Data on women’s status are often not disaggregated by marital status, so at every level of gender statistics, from national to global, widows are not visible. Yet we know that many elderly widows face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, based on their gender, age, rural location, or disability. Others are still young when they lose their husbands, perhaps as a result of conflict or because they were married as children to a much older man. These women face a long lifetime of widowhood.

Along with the shock of losing a spouse, the situation for widows is often compounded by stigma and social isolation. In many countries, widows have been stripped of their rights to assets such as land, income, and property. Without access to social protection, they face destitution.

According to the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law 2021 report, out of 173 countries, 90 per cent have at least one law limiting women’s economic participation, including constraints on their ability to inherit or own land. Repealing these discriminatory laws is not only ethical, but it is also a mandate of the Sustainable Development Goals. The first target of Goal 5 is to ”end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere” with a further target specifying the need to “undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance, and other natural resources, in accordance with national laws.” Action on these could impact the lives of millions of widows who are currently dependent on their husbands for their livelihoods.

Joyce was able to improve her situation, thanks to a project supported by The Goat Foundation for widows that trained her in financial skills, and included her among a group that received a donation of a pair of goats. Through this group,  saved enough money to start two micro-enterprises. With these new ventures—selling slippers and breeding goats—she has established her independence, growing her business, and supported her family.

The Goat Foundation is committed to working with communities around Kenya and Africa, and with like-minded civil societies on ensuring the human rights of widows. This includes providing widows with information on access to a fair share of their inheritance, land, and productive resources; pensions and social protection that are not based on marital status alone; decent work and equal pay; and education and training opportunities.

Widows must be empowered to support themselves and their families. This also means addressing social stigmas that create exclusion, and discriminatory or harmful practices, such as those in the DRC, where a widow can be required to undergo a period of isolation and imprisonment, purification ceremonies to “cut the link” with her deceased husband, and pressed to remarry.

 

This year’s UN High-Level Political Forum took place in July with a focus on “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world“. It provided an important opportunity to highlight and act on the connection between widowhood and poverty, as well as on the paucity of quality, sex-disaggregated data about widows and their lives.

The Sustainable Development Goals call on all of us to include those who are at risk of being left behind. Widows have inviolable rights that are not dependent on anyone else; they must be able to enjoy those rights. Let us work to ensure that, just like Joyce, all widows have the opportunity to build a new life after a personal loss.

 

CAST OUT BY CUSTOM – A WIDOW’S TRIUMPH OVER CUSTOMARY LAW

A woman peeking through the window of a clay house balancing a basket and headwrap on her head

The Goat Foundation has been at the forefront of highlighting widows’ triumph over adversity and circumstance. It is always hopeful and delightful whenever we encounter a case where communities work together to help one of their own emerge from debilitating conditions. Such a case was that of Mary through whom it was demonstrated that retrogressive customs and traditional laws that discriminate against widows could be overcome.

Mary had been married to her husband for ten years before he was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, she and her family did not have enough money to transport him to a reputable hospital for treatment. John died just a few weeks after his doctor confirmed that his cancer had progressed to stage 4.

Shortly after her husband’s death, Mary’s life quickly became unbearable. Things became difficult. She couldn’t send her children to school or feed them. Everything she and her late husband had spent years building was now under threat of being taken away. In their customary law, women were not allowed to inherit from the estates of their deceased husbands. To enforce that, they harassed her and ordered her to vacate the property where she and her husband had lived for nearly ten years.

She endured the suffering until she learned that a local Kilifi town community-based non-profit organization that looks after the plight of widows could assist her with her case. She showed up there, and the organization assisted her in getting legal representation, which resulted in a favourable ruling that allowed her to stay and raise her children in the home where they had been living with her late husband.

The court’s decision reprieved Mary as it gave her and her kids a place to live and call home. Soon after, the organization organized training on business skills so she could slowly rebuild her life, provide for her family, and send her kids to school.

With her small savings, the training, and the enablement she received from the organization, Mary opened a small shop that sold household items to the community. Using the business skills that she had learnt; she was able to grow the business to the point that it could feed her children and pay for their school fees

Many women, like Mary, experience the same fate following the passing of their husbands. Most of the land is typically owned by men. Most traditional families do not write wills, and in the event of a man’s passing, all land and property are reclaimed by the male relatives, mainly brothers and uncles rather than their wives or children

The help that Mary received from the charity organization, went a long way in reviving the hopes she had of taking care of her family. It ensured that there was no hunger and that her children attained the highest form of education. The training she got to start her business will help her grow and flourish in business and ensure that there is no poverty in her household.

The Goat Foundation remains at the forefront in championing for widows’ rights and looks forward to the day when widows will be regarded as equal family members and therefore achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for social and economic justice for women. We are continually expanding our partnerships and associations throughout Africa and with the help of our partners, we believe we will transform the lives of millions of widows.

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.

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.

 

TURNING THE TIDE IN THE STRUGGLE FOR WIDOWS’ RIGHTS

Widows bear the brunt of societal stereotypes.

TURNING THE TIDE IN THE STRUGGLE FOR WIDOWS’ RIGHTS

 

African traditional culture was a system that guided the lives of our ancestors in their conduct and relations. In most cases, these traditions that observed cultural norms were the pillar that ensured unity and harmony among communities. With the advent of colonial occupation, the adoption of Christianity, and Western education, most of these cultures were abandoned and forgotten.

However, in the late 20th Century, some of these cultural practices started creeping back. Communities across Africa that were disillusioned by the white man’s ‘civilization’ began retracing their steps to the old traditions that governed them. The sinister aspect that however emerged was the selective adoption and subjective interpretation of these ancient customs. Driven by hard economic times, male-dominated societies moved to consolidate economic production by grabbing land and property in the name of observing cultural norms.

Women, hitherto protected by ancient customs, were exploited, discriminated against, and abandoned by the practitioners of these new bastardized norms.

Culture no longer existed to protect and safeguard societies. Selfish looters selectively adopted and interpreted sections of these ancient customs with a partisan agenda of economic exploitation, domination, and control over women.

One group that was most affected by this neo-traditionalism was the widows. Safeguards that proscribed respect, honor, and protection of widows were abandoned. Any woman whose husband died now faced a revised system of customs that were engineered to sexually exploit them, deprive them of any means of livelihood, grab their property and basically bleed them dry. The idea behind these thugs was to scare the widow away from her husband’s property and send her back to her family.

In cases where a provision was made for widows to remain in their matrimonial home, she was to consent to unspeakable acts of sexual assaults, humiliation, battery, enslavement, necrophilia, and, necromancer.

Looked at objectively, an outsider shudders with dread at the ordeal endured by these women. It was nothing short of diabolical. Activists, international organizations, and national governments could no longer ignore this depravity. Slowly by slowly changes have been taking place and the fiendish fascination with widows’ sexuality abandoned.

Yet among numerous communities, and in societies where the outside world has yet to venture, widows live in terror and male dominance over female livelihoods has mutated into an evil presence that seeks whomever it can devour.

As sad and horrifying as it may sound, these practices dominate societies across Africa. As with all secret societies, communities are afraid to speak against them for fear of retribution. Widows differ silently and a few dare speak on their behalf.

Of late, however, NGOs, religious organizations, local authorities, and activists have made significant inroads into these forgotten corners of the world. Organizations such as The Goat Foundation have realized that the only way they can rescue these widows from the clutches of their male oppressors is through economic empowerment.

Through aggressively targeting vulnerable communities, widows are now being offered incentives to set up businesses and diversify their farming practices. Laws have been changed to guarantee legal ownership of matrimonial property though the implementation has faced difficulty due to entrenched belief in male superiority.

It is a slow and painstaking process in providing education, health services, and economic means to windows. It is hoped that eventually, advocacy and civic education will win over the hearts and minds of rural communities, who in turn will begin to grant widows the dignity of being left alone, or even provided for.

As a keen participant in this effort toward widow emancipation, The Goat Foundation looks forward to the day when men and women will be regarded as equal, in the eyes of every member belonging to these African communities.

FROM THE LENS OF A WIDOW’S SON- STEVEN MATHEKA.

A widow and her son.

” My mother is 94 years old. She cannot walk much so I have come here to represent her and thank The Goat Foundation for their donation.” Says a bubbly Steven Matheka.

When Kalama was identified as our 5th giveback area, we were excited to meet the widows. In the area, the red soil would occasionally mix with the wind and blow towards the hilly slopes of the region. A closer look at the vegetation indicated how climate change had negatively impacted the area. Farmers had resorted to planting drought-tolerant crops like sorghum, pigeon peas, and millet. Previously, maize and bean plantations could be seen from afar. But farmers had learned to adapt to the harsh weather patterns.

” We are a family of 7. Our father died in 2000 and left my mother the responsibility to care for us. 4 are girls, married now with children and 3 are boys. I stayed home because I could not find a job. Everything has become so hard and my mother requires a lot of attention. She developed high blood pressure and her hearing isn’t as good. Now, I do everything around the household. This requires money; buying her medicine, ensuring her nutrition is on track, and looking after the pair of goats you gave us.”

The direct beneficiaries of widows are their orphaned children. Like Steven, many youths across developing countries are struggling with finding means of survival. The high unemployment rates have made it hard for them to find active sources of income. Uplifting widowed households ensure their beneficiaries too are assured of sustainable sources of income.

What next for this family?

“The goats have not reproduced yet. It has been very dry and their feeds have been hard to come by. But we are hopeful that the next mating season will present kids. They have given life to our small compound. When we hear them bleat, it gives us the energy to own the day. For a long time I had wished to buy cattle for my mother, I wanted to start a business for her so I could be like other children who support their families. But The Goat Foundation heard my prayer and came in just before my mother was bedridden.

I believe I will have built my small house next year from the goats you gave me.

Down the memory lane: Our giveback in Bondo — Growth, learning, and a new perspective on life.

The Founder Goat Foundation, Steve Down, his wife; Coleen Down- while visiting Bondo

The first time we decided to travel 300 kilometers away from Nairobi, Kenya’s Capital we did not know what to expect. We were a small team of 6 people trying to preach about Cause Capitalism to strangers who thought “Who are these people again?” Small beginnings can be very discouraging, especially for start-ups, but we stood our ground on changing the world with what we now believe is a revolutionary way of business operations.

Bondo is a small fishing town that lies in the Western part of Kenya. A small center with vibrant and welcoming people. We arrived late in the evening to witness the economic activities that take place around the markets in the areas. Women were selling fresh produce across the roads while men used motorcycles to ferry passengers across. It is easy to notice fish is a major delicacy in the area as most open markets had it in plenty.

From afar, Bondo looks like a township without hurdles but poverty in the area is evident when civility ends in the town center. Deep in the rural areas, grass thatched huts stand far from each other. Almost every household we visited had a graveyard. Families with very young children and elderly caretakers who were left behind. HIV/AIDS in the region remains a menace that has left many widows and orphans at the mercy of the government.

Gender Imbalance

Widow groups in the region are common. At the shores of Lake Victoria, we met a group of women preparing a boat to set out to fish. It is uncommon for women to take part in such labor-intensive activities but the women around Bondo have been left with no option as they are the sole breadwinners.

“We started a widow support group to prevent more deaths,” said Akinyi, one of the widows in the group.

She added, “ Here if you do not have a husband, you cannot own land. So most widows are forced to remarry. A woman whose husband died has no voice. We have lost so many widows to wife inheritance. They get married as second to fourth wives, then move in with children from their previous marriages to their new homes. Only to die from HIV/AIDS. Some are forced to give their bodies to some of these fishermen to get fish to sell in the markets.”

True to this, The United Nations Human Settlement Programme report indicates thatThere is a pervasive sense of women’s powerlessness in the face of profound gender discrimination. For example, women who are barely able to act in their own interests to prevent threats to their land rights. Even very elementary measures, such as consulting local authorities or educating themselves as to how the land office works, seem beyond their capacity. Widows appear isolated and dependent on information from men whom they do not even trust. Due to their place in society as well as lack of social capital, generally, women are unable to address land problems. Many widows whose brothers-in-law, don’t maybe give them enough land especially those with HIV. It is possible that a woman may refuse not to be inherited then the brothers-in-law decide to take the piece of land.’

The Goat Foundation found out that widows in Bondo are among the most discriminated against in Kenya. They are powerless when it comes to land inheritance and property ownership. With very low literacy levels, they can only start out ventures that feed their families on a daily basis. This inhibits wealth creation in the region as income goes directly to catering to basic needs.

So what next?

On July 19th, 2022, we made follow-up calls to some of our widow beneficiaries in the region. We are happy to announce that our giving hope by giving goats initiative has enabled 25 low-income widowed households in the area.

When we started out, we thought about the immediate needs and pleas of the widows. But we came to the conclusion that a long-term sustainability model that addresses wealth creation was the only way to narrow the inequality gap.

Most widows have happily responded that their pair of goats have reproduced and they are actively looking for markets to sell them.

“I have 6 children. When you last visited, I did not know how I was going to put 3 of my children through high school. I am so happy because my goats reproduced after 5 months and I have been able to sell them and raise school fees for them. It has not been easy but it has been possible.” Says an elated Ruth Oginga.

Learning Curve

After Bondo, we have been able to give 500 more goats to households across Kenya. Watching Cause Capitalism impacts households has been fulfilling. Believing that such a small token can go a long way in giving hope to families that had been despaired by demise has been the fuel to our ambition to grow The Goat Foundation.

Our journey to empowering 10,000,000 more households across East Africa continues.

Widow Poverty

KENYA: HUNGER CRISIS ACROSS WIDOWED HOUSEHOLDS AS PRICES OF FOOD COMMODITIES GO UP. 

Widow Poverty

Widowed households across Kenya have asked the government and supporting organizations to cushion them from an impending hunger crisis. This is after the price of essential commodities skyrocketed. The government recently reduced the prices of maize flour by 2 shillings which is still insignificant.

17% of Kenya’s population lives below a dollar a day. Widows living in low-income households make up part of these statistics. To afford maize flour, a staple meal in Kenyan households, these populations have to earn twice as much. The World Bank warns that the high food prices have triggered a crisis that will drive millions into extreme poverty, magnifying hunger and malnutrition while threatening to erase hard-won gains in development.

An unending cycle of poverty.

Given this, rising food prices have a greater negative impact on low- and middle-income households as they spend a majority of their earnings buying food.

“Everything is so expensive. I have 5 children who I have to take care of alone. My husband died and left me with nothing so I have to work very hard. But all of my earnings go to buying food and paying school fees.” narrates Joyce Tabitha, a widow beneficiary of The Goat Foundation.

Like Joyce, many other widows are experiencing the impact of inflation. Left alone to cater to households with some having no sources of income; they can barely afford food.

When the gross income of a population goes to expenses rather than investments, debt arises. If not, the quality of life will not be improved as all earnings are spent. This creates a wealth gap as the poor continue earning to meet their basic needs.

The Goat Foundation support

In the face of this crisis, The Goat Foundation in partnership with Financially Fit has deployed short-term and long-term responses to address food insecurity. This is by strengthening the capacities of widows across rural communities to efficiently cater to themselves.

So far, we have;

  1. ) Donated 500 goats to 250 widowed households living in extreme poverty across Kenya.

     2.) Partnered with Financially Fit to educate our beneficiaries on social enterprises they can grow from our goat donations.

Equally, we are working to partner with agricultural-based organizations to help us in educating widowed farming communities on best practices to increase their total farm outputs.

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.

 HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

During the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya, hundreds of lives were lost and thousands got displaced from their homes. The disputed elections were contested by leaders from the two of the largest communities in the country. 

Displaced by Conflict

As tension rose around the country and violence grew at an alarming rate, Joyce was advised by concerned friends to move back to her rural home in Murang’a, Kiambu County, from where it was assumed her security was guaranteed. 

Leaving her two children behind was one of the hardest decisions she ever made. She figured they were safer staying in one place, rather than traveling around in those unpredictable times.

While in Murang’a, her husband sadly passed on in a complicated story that requires a book to detail.

Donating a pair of goats to widows

Donating a pair of goats to widows

Joyce recalls how she was verbally attacked and kicked out of her husband’s funeral by her in-laws who thought she had visited their home to claim his property. In truth, she had braved danger and uncertainty to travel across the country to collect her children.

“What are you doing here? Why did you come? don’t you know your people killed my brother!!??” he fired off in a staccato of ruthless ire that made Joyce recoil from his presence in sheer horror.  

“You think we don’t know your agenda?” she had been told, “you will get nothing from my dead brother. His property belongs to us, his children are ours, leave before you follow him to the grave.” 

Scared out of her wits, her instinct of self-preservation had made her flee that home and city never to return.

In Machakos County, sad and confused, she settled at a nearby market center known as IIyuni where she worked as a cleaner at a local school and tended to a small farm around the house that she rented. 

Through her church, Joyce learnt about The Goat Foundation. Her pastor had presented her name for consideration as a likely recipient of a pair of goats.

Excited and intrigued Joyce attended the ceremony and was touched by the speeches exhorting generosity.

“Why should I act generously yet I am just a poor widow, shouldn’t I save all my money?” she wondered.

However, after deciding to adhere to the simple instructions of giving as spoken by donors at the meeting, she began offering herself to assist in church, buy meals for guests and even clothe a destitute child. She also donated the kids to her goats after they gave birth. 

New Beginnings

What followed was a series of miracles that bring tears to her eyes whenever she remembers. 

In a chance encounter with a family lawyer during a revival meeting, Joyce was advised of her rights concerning the custody of her children was concerned. Fellow church members got wind of her plight and got together to fundraise and hire a lawyer for her. 

Meanwhile, as her goats grew in number, she decided to try her hand at the restaurant business.

It is now three weeks since the custody hearing concerning her children began. Joyce believes good tidings await her. 

At the moment, she has to prepare for a meeting with an investor who wants to expand her hotel to a storied structure offering 3-star services. 

“So this is what giving is all about?…you give to receive!” she muses smiling.