Periodically, we like to showcase the stories of the young men and women we have worked with through our projects in East Africa. As part of the celebrations around World Population Day this month, we are taking the opportunity to show the value of investing in girls. This is Rhoda’s story.
Rhoda Adhiambo was born and raised in Mathare slums twenty years ago. Growing up, Adhiambo has seen her parents struggle to provide for their five children. When work is available, her father serves as a casual laborer and her mother as a cook. On a good day her mother earns approximately 2.90 euros. While Adhiambo’s parents wanted her to be educated, money was extremely limited and schools in the slums were vastly under-resourced.
Faced with all these challenges, Rhoda could not make it past secondary school. Her mother owned a mboga selling kiosk (a vegetable stand in Kiswahili) in Mathare and after finishing school Adhiambo decided to help her mother in running it. The profits from the kiosk were very little to maintain a family of seven. Aside from buying day-to-day basic needs, nothing could be saved for other needs such as school fees and health services.
Fit for Life Training
In March 2012 through DSW`s Fit for Life Project, Adhiambo benefited from the peer led training – where young people are trained and expected to spread the information to their peers and the society at large. Through her 12 hour training course (three hours a day, four days a week), Adhiambo learnt business management skills that she has used to expand the mboga kiosk into a green grocery. She learnt that by expanding a business and selling more wares, you are able to meet demands of many people since you have different choices for various customers which also has a positive impact on sales.
My siblings go to school in the slums and they pay a monthly school fee of three hundred shillings per month. One is in class eight, another in class four and another one in class two. This means a total of nine hundred Kenya shillings per month. The green grocery generates enough money to pay school fees for the three siblings and they are no longer sent home to get school fees like they used to do before. Their learning is smooth and I expect my sister to perform well in her final exam.
Creating New Economic Opportunities
The kiosk that was only selling cabbages has now expanded, and Adhiambo sells many other types of vegetables and fruits such as onions, tomatoes, kales and mangoes. Before expanding the business, Adhiambo used to make a profit of 1.96 euros per day but now she makes around 6.80 Euros a day, “fruits sell a lot in this area and they have been a major source of the sales that I make“ said Adhiambo. The training helped Adhiambo develop a culture of saving. She saves 2.90 Euros per day and she hopes that the money will be enough to cater for her sister`s fees for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and join Secondary school next year.
With an increased profit, Adhiambo’s family is also able to feed well and they no longer skip some meals like they used to do before. “I am also able to buy clothes for myself and make my hair. I would have been forced into prostitution to cater for these needs and end up contracting HIV & AIDS, or getting pregnant”.
You can read more about Fit for Life at DSW’s website.