Women around Turbo in Western Kenya are excited about the Mothers’ Support Programme expanding in their rural district. The program is the creation of Benter, Lizette, and Rhoda – the leaders of the Visionary Women’s Centre -- and it has the effect of increasing self-confidence and building a sense of pride in the women who participate. The women also improve the nutritional and economic opportunities for themselves and their families.
110 mothers and grandmothers are now participating, divided into eight smaller groups of thirteen to seventeen members. The groups meet regularly and learn how to start an organic garden and raise chickens. Overall, the Mothers’ Support Programme is supporting over 700 family members in their community.
Rhoda, Davis and Benter are part of the Visionary Women's Centre leadership team
Before being able to join the Mothers’ Support Programme, women must organize themselves into neighborhood groups and successfully complete the Table Banking savings program. For Table Banking, the women receive a clay piggy-bank which they fill weekly with any savings they get from sales of vegetables or odd-jobs. At the end of the year there is a celebration and the banks are smashed open! The women then use their savings for investing in chicks or paying for school fees for their children.
“This project has had the most remarkable effect on everyone involved,” says Lizette, who is co-founder of VWC and lives in Canada. “It has inspired and stretched the Visionary Women’s Centre team to have the opportunity to bring such a wonderful gift to "our mothers.””
Planning for the Future
There is great interest in the program, and so the VWC team has carefully designed a plan for slow and steady expansion of the program within the community. “We take two new groups per year," Lizette explains. "Once a group has been followed for five years with a gradual decrease in supervision, they will become part of the VWC MSP Alumnae. This allows for on-going contact and support from VWC but in a way that we can continue both to expand as well as honour our commitment to established groups.”
The Visionary Women’s Centre is one of SIA’s multi-year partners, which means that the SIA Board has approved three consecutive years of funding. This allows VWC to plan future expansion without immediate funding concerns. Our multi-year commitment also helps VWC in their fundraising from other groups. This year the VWC team is making inroads into local fundraising initiatives, receiving support from a local gym and a bank branch in Eldoret, Kenya.
As a way of Sharing the Gift, Lizette and Benter helped present at a Zoom training call for SIA partners last week! Twenty SIA partners from Eastern Africa attended the training to learn how to pitch their organizations to both international and local funders.
Tanya and Barbara Deal visiting the Visionary Women's Centre in 2019. We were welcomed by the organizing team, who served us watermelon and told us about their vision for the future.