In northwest Kenya, in the tiny village of Miwani, Mama Margaret works at an AFCA-sponsored sisal project. The road to the project is dusty, but everything on either side of it is green and lush, peppered with the odd rock and piece of wood in the fields. Small houses dot the countryside where children walk to school, dressed in greens and purples and blues, depending on the schools’ uniforms. Walking among them are mothers making their way to the sisal project on Restoring Hopes Ministry land, AFCA’s partner in this part of the country.
Talking amongst themselves and laughing as they walk to work, these moms look and feel very differently than they did just a couple of years ago. Mama Margaret is one of these ladies, proudly walking to work with her colorful kikoi wrapped around her waist to protect the skirt she wears. A widow for more than ten years, she lost her husband to AIDS and is raising their six children. She works mostly in the sisal decorticating machine, the machine that squeezes the fiber out of the sisal leaves. She likes this work because she says that it has transformed her life.
Upon his death, Mama Margaret’s husband left her with a piece of land on which to grow food, but her in-laws took it from her, leaving her with nothing to depend upon. With all the children to feed, she was forced to send her kids to her relatives to help her raise them because she had no money for food, medicine, clothes, or soap. She was reduced to making illegal brew in order to earn enough month to buy her food and also begged for money from her relatives for her upkeep. When asked, she can’t count the number of nights she went to bed hungry and sick, and she describes her life at the time as hell on earth for her.
When Mama Margaret was offered the opportunity to work on the sisal project, she jumped at the offer and took to it immediately. Her children are all living with her now and there is ZERO begging from anyone! She has a dignified local job and provides for her and the children’s needs. “What melts my heart is that NO other day since she started working in our project has she gone hungry”, says Frank, Restoring Hopes director. She can even provide medicine for herself and her kids, and the children are all in school! Life has transformed from terrible to good for her. There is such a bright light in the tunnel as Margaret is slowly leaves poverty behind because through this project and nothing brightens my day more than to know and see that we are impacting lives.
AFCA, in partnership with Restoring Hopes Ministry, are committed to work with families and children affected and/or Infected by AIDS within the community of Miwani. One of our mutual goals is that all the women and kids in our programs are able to sustain themselves and their families, just like Mama Margaret has done. We want to continue to see them walking down the dusty road towards good work – laughing, healthy, and hopeful.