Projets - 18 November 2011

en - We marvel at the power of a woman.......

We have been challenged by the dire condition of the women around us who live in poverty, with no means to provide for their families. We felt called to stay and work with our people in this area for a better life. The present group of ten women is school drop outs, with primary education. They couldn’t continue with their education due to poverty and ended having children at an early age.

Our East African Juniorate moved to Langata from Kawangware in December 2007 to a new site nearer to Tangaza College where the sistrs study; leaving behind a small community of four sisters. The twelve years we spent in Kawangware, was a good time for us to study the environment. We have been challenged by the dire condition of the women around us who live in poverty, with no means to provide for their families. We felt called to stay and work with our people in this area for a better life. The present group of ten women is school drop outs, with primary education. They couldn’t continue with their education due to poverty and ended having children at an early age

Context. Kawangware has a high population, all in search of a better future. Poverty ion this area has contributed to the loss of hope, leading to a growing number of single parents (mostly women) The housing conditions are poor with lack of sanitation, water and electricity. This was a urgent call for us as educators to improve the quality of life of these women through trans-formative education and to give them back their dignity, responding to their current needs as they are the bread-winners.

 Objective. We decided to focus on women who are mostly hit by poverty. We followed different areas of research and some of our findings led us to the formulation of this weaving project. As educators, we felt challenged and we decide to give trans formative education which could give back the woman her dignity. We came up with a program of two groups in a year; each group would have twelve women for six months.

Implementation. The first two groups were received on April 2009 and January 2010. Our garage was transformed into a training venue and could only take a maximum of twelve women.. The weaving was three days in a week, Monday to Friday; from 9.00am to 1.00pm as the full course (training) would take six months according to the instructor, Mr. Maxwell Ojango. They all started with a lot of determination and enthusiasm. As time passed by, they started dropping out one by one and absenteeism made them lag behind. The instructor and the sisters always encouraged and reminded them of the name they had chosen and agreed for the group, "Uwezo Ninao", Kiswahili words which literally mean" I have the ability? I am capable."
All the same, the number continued to decrease. By the end of the two terms of six months, only four of the women, two in the first and two in the second, were able to complete the training
After an evaluation was done with some of the students, we realized that the weaving is a continuous practice and it would be better to have it on a daily basis. We also came to discover that the women had different motives in their joining the training in the religious sisters’ compound. They thought that they would be offered food for their families, financial support in school fees and house rent along with the training.
The third intake was through the announcement in the Parish with a display of some of the weaving products. We got eleven women who had strong will power to change for a better life and very determined to make the weaving products with their own hands. The time of training was shortened from six months to four months because of the daily attendance, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 1.00pm.As time passed, the women formed a family and worked as a team, sharing their lived experiences as they did the weaving,, this led to informal education among themselves. This resulted in self confidence and esteem, trust, openness, a sense of belonging and self appreciation. The name of the women’s group, "Uwezo Ninao ( I have the ability/I am capable) was proved true. They were very excited to discover what their own hands could make with the help of the instructor. Each of them got her own floor mat as a souvenir in her family. By the end of the four months the eleven women were equipped in carpet weaving, fabric dying, wool spinning, table mat weaving, and screen printing and kikoi (shawl) weaving.

Conclusion. The success of this project of empowering a woman was due to the daily attendance, strong will power for a better family life, display of some of the products during the intake announcement, gradual realization of the women that they are capable and have the potential, availability of weaving materials, learning at her own pace.
To date, one of the trained women is the assistant instructor in our Uwezo Ninao Weaving Centre, another is already making floor mats in her house using plastic papers, as the cotton yarn is expensive, four are joining together to form a weaving group of their own. We are dreaming of how to employ some of the trained women and make quality products for sale for the sustainability of the project and therefore less dependent on donations. At the moment we are working closely with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development in our District of Dagoretti. This is to find ways of assisting these women to form self -help groups for income generating activities. Apart from the weaving skills provided to the women, educative programs are given in the areas of; Economic Improvement(Weaving skills, Income generating activities),Family Life Education(Responsible Parenting, House Management) and Character Formation(Team Building, Conflict Management)

Sustainability We, the Religious of the Assumption, are still encouraged to continue with the project as we marvel at the power of a woman, and assist her to help herself by improving her family life and acquiring a source of income. It is our desire to continue with some of these women that they can make more products for sale as a gradual way to sustain the project as well as the creating of job opportunity for the women. From our experience we have the confidence about the future of the project and to see it develop into a multipurpose centre of women education The project has given great hope to other women of our local area who look forward to the next intake which depends totally on donations.

Sr Nancy Nyawira ra
Kawangware. Nairobi , Kenya