On 5th December 2020, Cometogether Widows and Orphans Organization in partnership with Bethel Widows and Orphans Organization (CBO)held a graduation ceremony for widows at Murema Primary School in Kasarani, Nairobi County. The celebration was to memorialize widow’s graduation and the Fifth Anniversary for Bethel Widows and Orphans Organization (CBO). The grandaunts had been trained and qualified on the following skills:
- Mat weaving.
- Hair Dressing.
The event was Graced by:
- Representatives from Ministry of Public Service and Gender.
- Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization.
- Bethel Widows and Orphans Organization (CBO).
- Nash Foundation.
- Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA- KENYA)
- Women Enterprise Fund.
The event began by Nash foundation addressing the members present through their founder Madam Naomi. Madam Naomi explained that they are from Dallas Texas and following their tag line hands of compassion. Ms. Naomi explained that they engage in charity work and help to their capacity the less privileged. Together with her team Ms. Naomi concluded by gifting the graduates 100 food packages and 14 sewing machines.
Mr Simon from FIDA-Kenya, committed to creating a society that respects and upholds women’s rights, informed participants that the federation was committed to offering legal aid to economically disadvantaged women on matters dealing with succession and property rights, child custody and maintenance, family mediation, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), Sexual harassment, and Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV). These were matters that closely affected widows. By the end of the day, the federation had received 16 matters as follows:
|NATURE OF ISSUE||NO. OF ISSUES|
|Custody and maintenance||7|
All participants who visited their tent were happy to receive a FIDA-T-SHIRT.
The FIDA team left their toll-free contacts (0800720501) in case anyone needed to contact them, since their office was not open for public visiting due to the pandemic.
Mr victor from WEF explained to the participants that the fund is under the Ministry of Public Service and Gender Affairs. He congratulated the graduands, commending Bethel Widows Group for putting into use the affirmative action funds which they are beneficiaries of.He explained to the other participants that WEF was an interest free loan given to women organized in groups. He continued that the fund offers loans in different stages, where each stage had a repayment period. The loan did not have a service charge, but had a 5% administrative fee. The fund offers a grace period of 1 month, before groups can be required to make repayment. Mr. Victor insisted that a group would only qualify for a subsequent loan if they had repaid the previous loan.
He also explained of the market support that WEF offers to groups called WEF SOKO which markets women’s products and services on their various social media platforms. This platform is important for the growth and general success of groups or personal businesses.
The fund also offers LPO financing to groups that have won tenders. In this service, WEF funds up to 60% of the capital required to service the tender.
Ms. Faith Kasiva, Secretary Gender in the State Department for gender was represented by Ms. Florence Mutai who read her speech. In her speech Ms. Kasiva recognized the integral role that the widows play in single-handedly fending for their families while at the same time participating in the national development of our country in the midst of their struggle. She congratulated the graduands for their success and explained to them that the skills acquired are in an effort to achieve SDG 1-Reducing Poverty, SDG 2- Reducing Hunger, SDG 4- Quality Education, SDG 5- Gender Equality, SDG 8- Economic Growth and Decent work.
She continued that the ministry is aware of the plight of widows in our country and recognizes them as one of the most marginalized groups in the society. She stated that millions of widows and their children all over the world endure extreme poverty, various forms of human rights violations including stigmatization. Ms. Faith explained that it is for these and other reasons that the state Department is committed to empowering vulnerable groups including widows to be self-reliant. Hence, she encouraged the graduates to turn their acquired skills into enterprises/business. She assured the members present that the Government is committed not leave the widows alone hence enriching the rights of widows in our constitution. She stated that the constitution of Kenya provides equal rights for men and women, equal protection of property rights for men and women, equal rights within marriages, legislative and other measures, including Affirmative Action programmes and policies designed to redress any disadvantage suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination.
Flame tree group was represented by MS. Ruth Ngonyo who congratulated the graduands for their achievement and thanked Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization inviting them to the event. She mentioned that it is through CTWOO that they have been able to reach many widows in the country and stated that such opportunities have provided the Flame tree group platforms to raise and create awareness on their products as well as market them. She then proceeded to gift each and every graduate, various widows group leaders and guests with packages containing Zoe Beauty Products.
Ms. Dianah Kamande the founder of Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization began by congratulating the graduates for it has been a journey since they started the skills training for widows’ program. She explained that all this effort is aimed at empowering the widows economically as well as contributing to the national development which is aimed at achieving SDG1- Reducing Poverty, SDG2- Zero Hunger, SDG4- Quality Education and SDG8- Economic Growth and Decent work. Ms. Dianah Kamande also promised that they are going to work tirelessly to ensure that they continue providing skills training to as many widows as possible. She concluded by urging them to apply for the Government Affirmative Funds which include Uwezo fund, Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) and National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF).
Hon. Passaris the chief guest, began by congratulating the graduates for making it that far. She explained that she is happy to see them acquire the skills and its evidence that they are economically empowered. She encouraged the graduates to turn their skills into business and be self- reliant. She thanked Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization for being the voice of widows and pushing to see that the government both county and National have addressed their challenges. After she went ahead and presented certificates to the graduates. She also presented cheques to the following widow groups; Hon. Passaris also gave 25 sewing machines to the widow groups and 153 food packages.