Tecla, one of the single mothers in Lemoru, grabbed my arm and said, “I can’t pay my daughter’s school fees. Can you assist me.” This is a common problem in Kenya. Everyone actually needs assistance, but financial assistance without responsibility or education simply continues the cycle of poverty. Empowering people is key and honest communication is the first step, so I said, “Tecla, you know there are many single mothers in the community. Each one has difficulty paying school fees. I can’t help them all, so you tell me which one I should assist and I will do it; but you must decide.” Tecla responded, “You’re right. I acted improperly.”
I have known Tecla for some years; she is a friend. I also knew that the elders in the community were tired of hearing her complaints. She and many of the other single mothers had lost respect in the community. I said, “Tecla – one complaining, single mother is a bother. A group of organized single mothers with a plan is a force. If you can organize the single mothers we will help you develop some strategies.” Tecla is a powerhouse. She just needed an assignment. In a few months she had organized 19 women into Destiny: Single Mother’s Group.
On the following trip, our friend Shayne taught a course on business/finance for the Destiny women. She also inspired them with ideas and encouragement. In May, as I met with Tecla, she was beaming. She presented me with a report of the group. Destiny women’s group have been meeting every Friday and amazing things are developing. All the women have reduced or wiped out debts. They contacted someone to train them in goat raising, they are growing vegetables for sale, and they have some excellent ideas for a cooperate business venture. Alone – they felt like victims. Together – they are a network of sisters. They are a force for positive change. These ladies have now regained the respect of the elders and the community. They will be an example for many other single mothers in other communities. I am so impressed with Destiny, but it all began because one single mother, Tecla, accepted a challenge.