In Western part of the republic of Kenya, poverty levels are as high as 72%. This is attributed to unemployment at 33% and the increased burden of HIV/AIDS. Most counties in Nyanza region has a particularly high overall HIV/AIDS prevalence of 15%, more than double national levels; with some of its sub – counties reach as high as 26%. Unfortunately this is higher amongst women (23%) as compared to 17% amongst men. This has impacted negatively on the economic livelihood of the population. Those infected are too ill to work consistently while those who are not ill are carriers with barely enough time to work. As a result businesses have closed down or not operating at full capacity while those who are employed are not as productive. This is made worse by the high cost involved in caring for PLWA (People living with Aids)
DEAL Foundation invites partners to assist the organization continue running an economic empowerment activity for PLWA, widows, orphans and other vulnerable children, a program we established in the year 2012. Our aim is to make a substantive difference in their lives by increasing access to economic and business opportunities, providing seed money; providing training and equipment; leveraging support from micro-finance agencies and supporting the setting up of Group Savings and Loan groups.
Economic Strengthening includes the following ways of working:
- Increasing access to economic and business opportunities. These vulnerable groups are often discriminated against making it hard to access mainstream services. Through outreaches and referrals, we provide essential information on viable business opportunities, where to access loans for start-ups, and how to manage loans and repayments.
- Providing seed money to fund viable business ventures and support to income generating activities (IGA). For many the seed fund is the only way they can escape poverty especially widows who have no collateral for security to get loans from banks. The Seed Money is given to widow’s interest free.
- Training and equipping PLWAs, Widows and older OVCs with skills to start and manage small businesses. As part of learning we also organize study trips for the beneficiaries to other successful models from which they can learn best practices
- Partnering with mainstream micro-finance agencies to leverage technical resources in quality assurance, capacity building and monitoring.
- Initiating and supporting formation of Group Savings and Loan groups amongst Widows’ groups. The basic principle of GS & L is that members of a self-selected group form an Association and save money in the form of shares. Members contribute regularly to a fund, which is governed by the group itself. Members can save at a rate matched to their capacity, thus lowering the threshold of entry for the poor. This enables members to earn substantial interest on their savings contributions, this approach promotes saving first and credit/loans second and strengthens individual and group capacity to use resources within reach.
Through this project we have been able to help many lives change for the better. The Income Generating Activities have increased the capacity of Widows, PLWA and orphans to become more self reliant and improve their quality of life. One such group that has benefited is the Nepawwa Community Based Organization; one of the CBO’s incorporated by DEAL Foundation.
Street and Working Children
From a recent assessment, children identified the main causes for leaving home as: the death of one or both parents; having no food at home; and domestic violence between parents and from parent to children through physical beatings, emotional abuse and neglect and even sending children away from home. Poverty was cited as another key reason for ending up on the street. Poverty is linked with the death of parents and dropping out from school. In additions circumstances such as denial of inheritance rights and breakdown of family ties continue to contribute to the increasing number of children working and living on the streets of Nairobi and most the slums.
During the past 2 years we have helped 427 children in the slums of mathare access education,. We have also been able to feed several children in our program.
One of our targets for the next 3 years is to reach more girls living and working on the street and hidden sector as bar maids, domestic maids and sex workers. Because the girls are hidden and harder to identify, they have missed out on opportunities accessed by street and working boys.
On the streets, sexual and physical abuse is a common occurrence. New children on the street and girls are most at risk of being abused by older boys particularly as well as the general public. This violence is linked to having no safe place to sleep at night, one of the main reasons why DEAL Foundation seeks for support to establish Children Homes and Rescue Centres for such vulnerable children. Boys of all ages also highlighted police violence. The police treat them like thieves, beat them, round them up and sometimes send them to the remand homes or even adult police cells.
DEAL Foundation has been able to talk to the street children where they have been able to share with us difficulties they face in finding food, water, and health care. As a result of these hardships, almost all the children on the streets at night are involved in substance abuse: sniffing glue, petrol or smoking ‘kuber’ (raw tobacco) and/or marijuana. New children described how older children force them to sniff glue when they are first on the streets so they become addicted.
Girls living and working on the street face different challenges even worse is that their experiences, like the girls themselves are hidden. They are vulnerable to trafficking and sexual abuse as well as to harsh working conditions and missing out on their education.