|They named it the Blessing Kiosk! ;)|
The girls now have a new grocery business, that after some time will split into two. One kiosk for each person. A community of 10 women and girls, mostly Turkana have also started adult education class!
|The type of places Turkana are used to living in, though not in the city|
|The desert landscape Turkana's are used to in the North|
|Regina in adult ed class|
|Meeting with Pamoja Self Help Group (Pamoja means together)|
I also met with some other NGO's that serve the community and one of the reasons it seems that the Turkana is not being served is because they have few Turkana's that serve on boards or speak on behalf of their community. Its not that they didn't want to help them (it least it seemed, though of course they are not going to tell me that) but that they need to grow some leadership so that they could be represented. So this became the focus of my discussions with the women. They need to become role models for their community striving to educate themselves and their children to improve the future of their communities.
|Bartholomew (the Turkana elder who introduced me to the ladies)|
|Getting a business permit at the town hall ($18 for the year)|
|one of the adult students first time writing|
of her being under age. It had her name, age at baptism and date of birth. Perfect. She just hadn't went to retrieve it due to the cost of the trip. So I paid for her go and return total of $12. Unfortunately she came back and the name on the card was her birth name, different than her name she has been using in Maralal and on record at the jail. At this point I find out it's common for people to change their names when they go to a new place seeking a new life, as a new beginning in this tribal culture. So it became an invalid document for our case. So things are messy for these girls. One positive is that their extended family of sorts (the women in adult ed and the women with the kiosk) is getting back on track and should be better able to take care of them when they get out. Fortunately government holidays around here generally come with a pardon for petty crimes. I have been told they will likely be out in a maximum of 6 months. I met with a concerned woman probation officer, who came over to sit with me while I was having dinner at a restaurant she happened to be in. I had met with her earlier and she remembered me (guess I stick out like a sore thumb.)We had a really long conversation about the girls and how there is no one in the community to act as representatives for them and she said she would take it upon herself to keep following up with them. She said she has been thinking about them since we met the other day. She said if there is any progress she could get them into a probation/education facility or at least see if she can link them up with education after they get out. So these girls have fallen through the cracks because they are poor, unrepresented and uneducated. If they or their parents had any education, they would have known its not a good idea to just change their names as well as participated in the appeals process that is 15 days from the court date. I learned of them after more than a month. If any one in their community held any government office or power at all, they would help their community to get their documents in order. I made as much progress as I feel that I could with out hiring expensive lawyers, but tried to educate the women in the process about what their rights are for future situations.
|Regina and her mentor returning from the market|
It was a jam packed 2 weeks and I am excited about what I learned. I was happy about the little things I was able to do to help the community help themselves. When I left Maralal and these women, I left part of myself there. It's a strong thing that happens when women connect with each other especially for a greater purpose. I've never had super duper close girl friends. Certainly some, you lovelies know who you are but recently in past years I've been trying to make more and it's not always easy. It just has to happen. Somehow with the last few months I've found some of that type of connection in the groups I've been working with with the women's groups Nairobi and now these Turkana women, even though I couldn't talk directly to them, we shared something.
Why else did it turn out to be such an important week for me? I guess it was because I was trying something that scared me, something I felt I had to do after meeting the Turkana women the first time I was in Maralal. It was also because it combined everything I've been learning and reading about for sometime into something that was real. It combined everything I've learned about working with people and organizations and it felt comfortable and exciting. It was also that I tried to do it alone and I didn't know if I could. I certainly had my translators, but I needed to grow to trust them and fortunately they were really good guys and they will be available to continue to check in with the project (I wish I could have found women translators, but I couldn't).
I could say alot more, but I think I'll stop there, because if you've reached this far you are probally bored to death! But on a side note I just arrived in Uganda! I have approximately one month left. I'm hoping to meet some buddies in the next few days. I hear there is some good hiking and some rafting on the Nile!