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Kianda Foundation’s new project for Kenyan women

May 3, 2007

Tags: Education, Youth, Solidarity, University, Women
ROME (Fides Agency) – They hire out donkeys for transport, run hairdressing salons, open kiosks, make or sell new and second-hand clothes, supply building materials, set up knitting or sewing workshops, market vegetables, rear dairy cows, goats, and sheep. More than 500 Kenyan women have set up their own small businesses thanks to the TOT (“Training of Trainers”) project initiated by Kianda Foundation, under the inspiration of the teachings of St Josemaría Escrivá, the Founder of Opus Dei.

Ngarariga and Riara are two villages in Kiambu district, Kenya. The land is ideal for coffee and tea plantations. Tea and coffee picking are the major source of income in this area. People come here from all over Kenya in search of casual work. During the peak season they work, but for the rest of the year there is less chance to work, and many of them have no means of subsistence for more than six months in the year.

The population of the Ngong hills consists mainly of Masai, who are herdsmen. Due to their nomadic way of life, they are often illiterate. This is especially the case with girls, who are married off at around 15 years of age. Marriages are arranged by the parents in exchange for livestock as dowry, and the girls have rarely learned enough to be employable.

In 2003, in order to help women from the rural areas of Ngarariga, Riara and Ngong, Kianda foundation set up the TOT project. Through this programme, university students are trained to teach women in rural areas how to set up a small business.

To date, with the help of 73 university students, the number of women who have benefited from the project is 512. Their ages range from 25 to 60, with a few over 60. These were grandmothers whose children had died of HIV/AIDS so that they had to work to bring up their orphaned grandchildren.

Kianda Foundation, which came up with the idea of the project, supports the social, educational and spiritual development of women in Kenya.

The first lesson given by the university students is “Life Skills”, covering such aspects as honesty, cheerfulness, helpfulness, hygiene, and good manners. Then they go on to how to set up a small business: planning, marketing, financial viability, and basic accountancy. When each woman has planned her own business, Kianda Foundation enables them to start it up with funds provided by the European Union.