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NOTORIOUS RUTH: Women of Change

by Gloria Teimuge and Tanya Cothran

   The Women of Change are a group of 1,500 women from the Rift Valley region of Kenya. They used to be alcohol brewers. The Chang’aa and busaa alcohol they made are illegal in Kenya because of their high and non-standardized volume of alcohol. This means the women often had run-ins with law enforcement.  SIA is working with these women to find profitable alternatives to making alcohol.

   From their stories and testimonies, it is clear that these women lived lives of restlessness and fright. They did not have peace or order. Their children did not go to school. Or if they did go to school, didn't have time to study or food to eat.

   At the Ukweli Training Center the women are trained by Samuel Teimuge and Dennis Kiprop on gardening, poultry keeping, livestock rearing and baking. They receive spiritual guidance and leadership skills as well, and some have become pastors and village elders. Their families have witnessed this journey of transformation and are in awe.

   In June, Barbara Deal and Tanya visited several Women of Change who have also received Small Business Fund grants. Ruth (pictured above) used to be a notorious brewer in her neighborhood. Now, she is “notorious for Jesus,” she says with a laugh. She is also notorious for her breads and baked goods. She used her SIA grant to buy a charcoal oven for baking.

   “I thank God that now we are using lotion!” Ruth told us. “When you are poor, you use the same oil for cooking and lotion.” Being able to buy body lotion is a simple luxury that Ruth now enjoys. Her kids also now all go to school and they sleep through the night, rather than be interrupted by drunks and police raids.

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