Lives of vulnerable young women in Oruba Estate within Migori town have considerably improved after a community-based organisation enrolled them in a women self-help Merry Go Round popularly known as Siri Ya Jikoni.
Blessed Generation CBO based in Oruba say the number of vulnerable women who got married or impregnated due to poverty at an early stage is worrying, and admittedly needed immediate intervention from all the relevant stakeholders.
Rhoda Ojijo, CBO chairperson said they have empowered young needy women with as little as Sh 2,000 to start small businesses and the profit is used to buy food for their families.
Women in Siri ya Jikoni buy food or any popular item used in the kitchen when moving to the next beneficiary. In Blessed Generation CBO, vulnerable young women are encouraged to spend as little as Sh 20 for Siri Ya Jikoni on a weekly basis.
According to Ojijo, the burden of women on ensuring children eat, sleep well and even given medication prompted them to target vulnerable young women who need knowledge on how to handle parenting challenges.
She said the challenges faced by the more than 20 young women enlisted by the CBO are varied with some of them asking to go back to school if given the chance. Rhoda however, said the charitable organisation dependent on friends’ donations are incapable of paying school fees for those who need to go back to school.
The CBO chairperson noted their charitable organisation has a home-based care programme for the vulnerable children whom some their parents died, others live with aged grandmothers or are homeless.
She however admits that the little donations from friends can’t accommodate overwhelming demand for help from vulnerable women and children who are in their support.
Lilian Ogilo, a 17 years old woman with a two year old kid thought marriage could solve her problems when she lost both parents two years ago. She said nobody volunteered to pay her fees but opted for a major step she thought could help; marriage.
Ogilo now stays with her grandmother after she opted out of marriage. She is supposed to work hard and provide for her child and her aged grandmother.
She said Blessed Generation CBO has taught her small businesses skills for instances mixing liquid soap and how to sell to target customers.
Millicent Achieng says her only surviving brother whom she hoped could help her accomplish her education was killed in 2017 in Ogwedhi Masai by unknown assailants. She says she can’t abandon her marriage despite the challenges since the parents died while she was young.
She thanks Blessed Generation for moral, spiritual and material support which has made her overcome various marriage challenges.
Ojijo concludes that many young vulnerable women are silently suffering in marriages with others experiencing perpetual domestic violence which can easily result in mental disorder or permanent disability.
She says the society risks a greater percentage of unproductive young families if action is not taken to find how to end what contributes to rushed early marriages and give possible solutions.
By Geoffrey Satia