Rose Wasiaya, 39, and her daughter Phoebe*, 13, at her secondary school in Korogocho, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.
Roses’ husband abandoned her to bring up their three girls alone when she didn’t have a son. He told her they were ‘rubbish’ and would achieve nothing. Her ex-husband’s words and betrayal have motivated Rose to work hard to provide for her girls and to prove him wrong.
She started a business making food the year he left (2009) but struggled to make a profit and never knew how much she sold. When the Oxfam project Wezesha Jamil arrived in her area (2015) she seized the opportunity to join the women’s group where she learnt business skills such as keeping records, understanding how much she spends on ingredients at the market and how to start saving.
She has also learnt about her rights as a woman and business owner and has gone on to help other women who were being harassed by County Officials. Today, Rose is proudly sending her second daughter to boarding school and hopes her youngest still at primary will also go on to have a good further education including University. Her business is doing well and with the on-going support of the women’s group she is confident her family have a brighter future.
My name is Rose Wasiaya. I have lived in Korogocho, Nairobi since 1996. I came here with my husband and my firstborn, my husband was looking for work. I was a housewife at that time. But now I am a single mother.
I gave birth to girls with no boy so my husband did not like that and decided to leave me with the children.
My husband said he can’t educate our children (girls) and called them ‘rubbish’. With that I wanted to prove that even if I am a woman I will educate my children. When SITE (Oxfam Partner) came to ground that gave me more strength to know that I am able.
Before (Wezesha Jamii help) I had a lot of problems and difficulties. We have got a lot of single mothers here in Korogocho like me and we have kids. It got to a time that I would go and do laundry for someone to get some little money to buy food. I also had difficulties paying my house rent.
SITE (Oxfam partner) and Wezesha Jamii (project) came to Korogocho two years ago. They were looking for women in groups and small scale traders and came up with systems on how to educate us. First we were told to have a plan of our business. For instance I did not have a plan and when I used to go and purchase products for my business I never used to record. When we learnt about record keeping we came to learn that we used to do things the wrong way before. Now that we are doing record keeping I can identify if I have a loss or a profit.
Since we were taught things have changed, before I could not tell if I have made a profit or not. Now I know what is selling and what I am making.
That business has boosted me. In my business I cook Githeri (beans mixed with maize), peas, beans, chapatti, rice and also make tea for sit in and takeaway.
Thanks to Wazesha Jamii we have a women group of 56 women with the name Rainbow. We meet on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We have different categories like a merry go round scheme called ‘Kionjo’ that we pay 200KSh, we have a savings scheme where one can save as little as 50KSh. We have another category called ‘masira’ where one saves 300KSh per month and is applicable when she is bereaved or when you have an emergency. We are also open to getting loans from 5000KSh and you will pay 2000KSh as the interest.
When I met with SITE, before, I was living and sleeping in a single room with these children. I can say that I am still in the same room but today I have another room that is for the children separately. My second born child is learning in a boarding school that many single mothers cannot afford and for that I am proud.
With my businesses and with the help of Wezesha Jamii I wanted to make sure my child goes to boarding school and earns an education. I went to talk to the Principal of the school and told him I would not be able to pay at one go but I will pay in instalments within the year. So I work hard and struggle to make sure that she gets the education and I am proud that my child is in boarding school. It is through the (WJ) trainings that I have gained the confidence of my rights and that I can do everything within my rights.
My child told me she wants to do law. I told her to study hard because there is nothing that is beyond God and as long as I am alive she will study law. She has been in school now for two years and the money from the business helps a lot but there is also money from the merry go round (table banking) program from our group that helps me get like 10,000KSh at once. Our county government gives me a bursary of 5,000KSh and with all that put together I pay her fees. The business is what boosts me the most.
We are so confident and free since we met with NOPE, SITE (Oxfam Partners) and joined Wezesha Jamii. We have even educated others, we went to the village elder and talked to him about our progress and now everyone knows what to do in his/her own business. We also gave the village elder suggestions on how they can support us as Small Scale traders, these include business stands, which are not present here.
My main focus right now is to make sure my children get an education. My vision is that when the child in class seven gets to form four I will have managed to buy four more structures in Korogocho. My prayer is that in the future I will be able to build a big house, or a small prestigious one in my home Siaya (upcountry). It is Siaya, a rural area where my mother still is, I will go back, home is the best!
God has given me life, my children are well and they are well fed. There is no single day they sleep hungry since SITE, NOPE (Oxfam partners) and Wezesha Jamii project came in my life.
*Names have been changed
For full testimony see resource no: 107595