LUNGALUNGA WOMEN WITH A PURPOSE AND A MISSION
The word ‘Karibu’ translated as ‘Welcome’ rarely skips their tongues. Industrious and outgoing they will spare a few minutes to acknowledge a visitors arrival; expectancy will be written all over their faces as you make the first encounter with them. They are The Project Africa Lungalunga women comprising of sixteen members.
Meet Benedetah who walks three kilometers every morning to the shopping center, with a little 1.5year old daughter strapped on her back, she runs a small clothes business. She is the groups secretary, a good organizer who will delegate responsibilities to the rest of the group members who are similarly self-motivated. On different occasions together with the group leader Agnes Mutunge they will give suggestions on how to handle the group’s issues as they arise. The groups chair lady ensures that the members are always Knit together and will always enquire the welfare of all members. She is not a lazy old lady she works hard all day since she gathers cashew nuts from different farmers in the village during harvest and later on sales them to a broker from the town of Mombasa..
I can hardly tell the whole story of these beautiful women of Lungalunga in this short piece. However let me give a few secrets from them. These women have decided not to sit down and die with their children due to hunger and poverty and discrimination that has bound the rest of the community. Mrs Zainabu Mwangale is involved in fish and vegetable selling business in her home in the village “Mgombezi.” We have Rose who using a bicycle she cycles from her home ‘Mwalewa’ every day early in the morning and late in the evening to run a small hotel in the shopping center in Lungalunga which is almost 15 km away. And for Kayango, has challenged the traditions of her people The Digo tribe that deny women the right to own property by keeps cattle and goats. She sustains herself and the family from the sale of milk. Mbotze, aged fifty on the other hand buys and sales fruits like oranges and pineapples around the village and the shopping centers. She walks to every home to sale fruits to the people to earn a living. Pauline also a devoted mother uses her talent to sew and sale clothes in her small ‘Makuti Banda (palm shade) in the shopping center.
I cannot mention all what they do but one thing is common to all these women they are devoted to the success of their families. Collectively these women have a goat-keeping program initiated by Project Africa. They each keep a goat that belongs to the other member. This is wisdom to avoid unwanted or unprofitable sales since one cannot sale the goat since it is not hers.
They long to see the goats increase so that they may sale the offspring’s and the proceeds will go their savings. Now with these goats and each having one they feel they are all alike. And it is this project that unites them together to share their common problems as they work tirelessly to fight their common enemy “poverty”. Through Project Africa they see hope and when ever they meet they want to learn and their minds have a new perspective in life.
This is not a little achievement considering the intimidation, stigmatization and limitations they face daily from the community. They have beaten the odds. Even though 3/4s of them are semi-illiterate but one thing that makes them special is their sincere desire to see their lives improve for the sake of their families and children.
Project Africa Program Coordinator