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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.

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.

 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.