Skills Training Workshops in Kenya: Generating Incomes and Empowering Women

Skills Training Workshops in Kenya: Generating Incomes and Empowering Women

Sally, our Project Development Officer, attended a graduation ceremony for the Chure Womens CBO skills training workshop in Kenya in August, supported by Ecologia Youth Trust. This is what she had to say about her experience.

Sitakaa vile tena

It really was a wonderful day of celebration. The graduation ceremony for 20 women of Chure Women’s group who had participated in the Ecologia-funded skills training course showed me that I had seriously underestimated the importance of the training for these women, some of whom are living positively with HIV/Aids, and all of whom have really struggled to generate enough income to support their families. The day was a party of song, dance, laughter, and inspiring speeches. There was even a graduation photographer, with all the usual props. It was clear that these women felt that the jewellery and detergent-making skills they had learnt would transform their own lives and encourage their communities, currently weighed down with poverty and ill health.

Their team song for the occasion, ‘Sitakaa vile tena’ – ‘I will never again be the way I was before’ – was deeply moving, sung as it was with so much emotion and joy. This transformation seems to be as great as it is due to the fact that before IPI and the skills training the extreme stigma around HIV, the lack of opportunity for women in the local area to earn a decent income, and, at least according to the speeches, an appalling lack of support from the menfolk to contribute to the family’s health and well-being, these women had previously thought that there was no hope in their struggle for survival. But now with inspiring role models like Dr Karambu Ringera of IPI, and Women’s CBO coordinator, Eva Muriungi motivating them, they have realized that they can turn their situation around by making a success of businesses they had never even thought of before. And the jewellery and detergent is already selling really, really well.

Added to that, Chure, being a particularly motivated women’s CBO, was the first group to receive a seed fund to develop their cooperative business further, through the purchase of more materials and tools. And if my first impression of Eva is anything to go by, she will make sure that they make the most of this opportunity. That very day she was pitching a Meru Council official for £600 to buy essential machines needed for high-quality jewellery-making – and he seemed to be succumbing to the contagious enthusiasm of the group.

These women need so very little to make a go of things. And once they are empowered and generating incomes, whole families will be safer and healthier. Indeed, this is the ultimate goal of Ecologia Youth Trust in its funding of these women-focussed projects. Karambu, Director of IPI, had explained to us that HIV was affecting so many mothers that children were ending up orphaned, or on the street, exposed to terrifying exploitation, because their mothers simply couldn’t take care of them. Whilst Karambu continues to take in such children to her KACH Home (Kithoka Amani Children’s Home), she needs our continued support to stem the problem at its root. So far so good – but the funding found so far only extends to 210 women. Let’s help spread this transformation even further. I actually believe that Karambu and Eva, and women like them, could turn this into a nationwide movement, given enough support. Watch this space.

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susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.