When Joan Adhiambo enrolled her daughter in the Kibera School for Girls in 2009, she knew their life would change. “I used to do odd jobs like laundry. I remember leaving home very early and coming back late without money for food. We slept with empty stomachs for countless nights,” she says.
Sometimes she would seek help from her maternal aunt. “When I felt that hunger was killing us, I went to her and she gave us whatever she had,” says the 34-year-old mother of four.
She was stressed to the limit and her daughter was closely watching her. “One day, some people from SHOFCO sent for me,” She went to share, “When I reached their office, they told me my daughter had stood up in class and narrated the story of our family. I did not know that my little daughter had a deep understanding of the challenges we were going through.”
Joan’s daughter is currently an eighth grader at Kibera School for Girls and is set to sit for her national examinations this year. “She is very responsible. I see a leader in her,” Joan says of her.
Later that year, Joan joined the SHOFCO Women Empowerment Program (SWEP), a branch of our Sustainable Livelihoods program. SWEP is building community support groups for women facing life obstacles and health ailments such as HIV in Kibera and Mathare urban slums in Kenya. It is not only providing psychosocial support to the women but also business training, financial support and job opportunities.
“I joined eight other women where we learned tailoring, detergent making and bead making. We also encouraged each other and life became easier,” Joan says.
There are good things happening in her life now. “Initially, we could eat one meal a day which was not even of good quality. Now we eat three good meals in a day,”. With a contagious smile, she continues, “I have no more stress. I can pay school fees for my children. I am now independent.”
In 2015, together with another woman from her SWEP group, Joan entered into her own business. Joan was inspired by the success of her friend: “She was making good money from her business. When she had made good money, she moved out of Kibera. I decided to start a business of buying, roasting and selling groundnuts, too.”
The business picked up well and she started saving some money. Joan used her savings plus a loan from her peers in the SHOFCO economic empowerment program to buy land. She adds: “I am now staying on my land as I build a permanent house. I have no more stress.”