It’s that time of year again when, in Scotland, the season starts to change. The temperatures begin to cool, the nights grow longer, and the colours of the leaves begin to change. Autumn is one of my favourite times of year as I’m reminded of the beauty of God’s creation. I commented to my husband one year that “autumn is when the trees paint themselves”, he looked at me and jokingly told me that “autumn is when things begin to die”. We clearly have a very different way of thinking – myself, a creative optimist, and my husband, a logical rationalist – but regardless of our perspective on the world around us, there is no denying that seasons come and go. The author of the book of Ecclesiastes writes:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
In Scotland, we are in the season of “uprooting”. The Roundhouse Kitchen and Café in Dundee has been a welcome recipient to the surplus harvest produced by local farms, greengrocers, and the produce from our own community garden.
We have also celebrated the harvest of our project in Tunoyo, Kenya. Last year, we partnered with Centre for Indigenous Child Rights (CICR), a women-led community-based organisation in Kenya, to launch a pilot project with three income-generating enterprise groups for a total of 32 women. The women were successful in producing vegetables in their community gardens, rearing improved chickens, and producing honey.
In Kenya, only 2% of land is owned by women.
The community elders of Tunoyo were so impressed by how the group had come together and were benefiting their households and the wider community, they unconventionally granted the women two acres of land which they could choose to use as they wish. Furthermore, through the enterprise projects the women saved enough money to buy a further four acres of land, two of which is located near the market and a river for irrigation.
The women dream of using this land to build a vocational centre which would empower and equip women to be makers of their own change!
In rural North West Kenya, 75% of the population walk an average of 5km to reach water.
However, one of the biggest challenges the women face is the lack of access to clean, safe water. For the community of Tunoyo, in West Pokot, the daily search for water can take up to 15km on foot to the nearest river. Taking up to 3-4 hours along dirt paths carrying 25-50kg of water, the impact this commute has across health, education and livelihoods is significant.
Furthermore, waterborne illnesses from drinking dirty water claim a child’s life every 90 seconds across the world. Many in Tunoyo suffer from wholly preventable illnesses due to the drinking dirty water they have gone to painstakingly great lengths to collect.
The women recognise the need for clean, safe water for their community. With the help of Signpost International, they decided to install a deep borehole on the land. Thanks to donations from trusts and foundations, we have been able to start work on drilling the borehole. The provision of safe, clean water will be accompanied by a WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) awareness campaign and the formation of a Water User Committee to ensure the maintenance of the borehole and rainwater harvesting tanks.
We have no doubt that a sustainable source of water in Tunoyo will dramatically impact the whole community through reducing illness, increasing school attendance, and increasing sustainable household income.
However, there is more to be done! We want to continue to empower the women of Tunoyo to have the facilities, training and support they need to fulfil their vision of a women’s vocational centre.