On 30TH October 2021, Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization visited group of widows at Nguluni heart catholic church, Machakos County. This visit was to seminar widows as well as training them. The main aim of this event was to empower widows economically through educating them on the government affirmative funds which includes; Uwezo Fund, Thamini Fund under the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF), WEF and the National Government Affirmative Action Fund and how to access them.
Introduction of members present
The meeting begun with the introduction session. Margret Kimani from State Bank of Mauritius started by introducing herself. She said that she is the one who triggered the start of that widow’s group, she also said that she works with many organizations specifically representing women and youths. The next person to be introduced was Fredrick Onyambu from Cometogether widows and orphans Organization.
In his introduction, he said that their aim as an organization is to empower widows socially and economically and ensure that their rights are safeguarded. Madam Dianah who was introduced as the main guest of the day was the next to be introduced. She started by congratulating the women who had made the day successful and concluded by encouraging the widows by telling them that she was one of them since she was widowed eight years ago.
Education on the affirmative funds
Madam Dianah was welcomed to proceed with the days meeting since she and her team were the main guests in that event. She started by thanking all the widows for availing themselves in the meeting, the chairladies for organizing the widows for that meeting. She introduced the team from Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization; Dennis, George and Fredrick.
Madam Dianah encouraged the widows where she emphasized her widowhood journey for eight years and hence there is a need to continue with life and be empowered. She said that as an organization they are working with CREAW an organization that deals with any kind of Gender Based violence. She alerted the widows on the importance of joining a self- help group in order to benefit from the Governments funds. She concluded by welcoming Fredrick to educate the widows on the affirmative funds.
Fredrick started by quoting a bible verse ` My people are perishing because of lack of knowledge` and that is the reason as to why they were there to educate them. He talked of the Government Funds that are set aside to empower the widows. He talked of the Thamini fund under the women enterprise that was set aside on 21st July by CS Kobia, he emphasized that this fund has no interest that is charged on the repayment.
Apart from this, he educated them on the Uwezo fund. He emphasized on the importance of being in a group in order to benefit from this fund and they have to plan on what do with the funds with the help of their leaders; chairperson, secretary and the treasure. Next, he talked of the National Government Affirmative Action Fund given by the women representative, according to him, this fund is not payable as compared to Uwezo Fund and Women Enterprise Fund. Fredrick concluded by saying that their aim as an organization is to ensure that widows are empowered and afterwards, he welcomed Madam Diana to proceed.
Madam Dinah’s talk emphasized on the funds, she asked for any clarification concerning what Fredrick took them through. She talked of the registration of a widow`s group that for it to be registered it should contain a minimum of ten members, the members should be taught by a government`s officer. After that she talked of the Uwezo Fund. according to her, Uwezo Funds gives loans to women, people with disabilities, and youths and therefore the widows also benefit from this Uwezo Fund.
She emphasized that Uwezo Fund has a grace period of two months and therefore its an advantage to them. She also talked of the Women Enterprise Fund (WEP), she said that a Government Officer must educate the members of a group on the Women Enterprise Fund and they should be certified that they are qualified to access Government Funds. She said that the Fund has no interest fee but rather an administrative fee of 1.5% and the payment period of one year.
She said that CS professor Kobia has allowed Thamini fund under the Women Enterprise Fund to be set aside for the widows. According to her, Thamini Fund has no interest fee nor administrative fee and the payment period of one year and five months. She encouraged the widows that they can make it, so long as they can come up with any income generating activity. She gave an example of a group of widows in Gatundu who started a hostel to rent after getting loan from WEP and Equity.
She concluded by saying that as an organization they also have advocacy on legal framework where they speak on behalf of those whose rights are violated. She said that every Saturday the organization`s lawyer take widows through paralegal training. She also said that widows are a good number and therefore they can step-up and raise a voice concerning any related issue to them. Finally, she gave the widows a chance to ask questions that she clarified.
In conclusion, the event was successful since a good number of widows turned up as expected. Madam Dianah and Mr. Fredrick trained the widows on economic empowerment but they mainly focused on the affirmative funds which included Uwezo Funds, Women Enterprise Funds, Thamini Funds and National Government Affirmative Action Funds.
Madam Dianah clarified on the requirements of applying for these Funds and how the widows will benefit out of them. The session was recommendable since widows responded to the training because after the completion some widows asked question from what was said during that meeting and the questions were clarified by Madam Dianah.