The Training and Business Centre
The first income-generating project Abigail Ministries provided in the Uplands Community was the Training and Business Centre at New Hope. Abigail Ministries funded the building in the grounds of New Hope Children’s Centre kindly donated by Anne and Tirus to us for this purpose. The Project was initiated to provide work for a group of ladies from the local community and has included training for them in tailoring, card making, bag making and bead making. It has been a very successful Project. Abigail Ministries originally funded the resources and wages for the women employed there but recently, with goods being sold in several countries by volunteers and tourists who visit New Hope who are impressed with the work and take it back to their own countries to sell, the Training and Business Centre has become self-sufficient and can even donate some profit to help the Children’s centre itself. This was always the intention and we are very pleased that it has reached this stage so quickly.
We were very conscious of the fact that for Shena’s Villagers to have real security and dignity, they would need to have a regular income in order to be able to feed and clothe their children, pay their school fees and to generally become self-sufficient. We decide to create jobs for them by building a bakery where we can offer them employment. The original plan was to build a small one in the village itself but Tirus suggested we build it next to the Training and Business Centre at new Hope. It then became a far bigger project than originally intended but we were given a very generous gift from an organisation which has made it possible for us to go ahead with this Project. After Shena’s Village was complete, work began on the Bakery building and we hope it won’t be long before the villagers can be trained and start having the security of regular work and wages as well as being able to take pride in the delicious foods they are producing.
Some women have already formed themselves into support groups and by giving them some financial support, Abigail Ministries has helped these women become self-supporting in their chosen means of occupation. We provided one group of ladies with beehives and protective clothing and they are now selling honey. Another group used our finds to start a crocheting business while yet another has chosen to decorate kalabashes which they sell at the local market. These ladies have formed ‘MERRYGOROUNDS’, a scheme by which they each contribute a small amount of money from their earnings each month and each month take it in turn to receive the whole amount paid in thus receiving enough money to buy whatever they most need for themselves or their families. Many of them use this lump sum to pay their children’s school fees.
Casual jobs are hard to find in this rural area. Regular jobs are even harder to find. As a result, many women are driven to earn money by whatever means possible. They often feel there are only two possibilities. The first is to create their own business, which invariably takes the form of brewing illegal liquor in their own home. This carries the risk of a hefty fine or imprisonment if they are caught. The other option these desperate women resort to is to go off to one of the towns to earn money through prostitution. Although very few of the women would choose this occupation, it is one of the most highly paid jobs so even with the risks involved some women feel they have no other choice. One of the main challenges of Abigail Ministries in this area of Kenya is to provide the funds which will offer women the choice of other forms of employment. In some cases this also involves training in a new skill such as tailoring or hairdressing.
For more detailed information about some of these projects, visit the Case Studies Section.