Through a partnership with the Lwala Community Alliance (LCA) in North Kamagambo, Kenya, DIG met and started working with a young woman named Eunice. LCA had been assisting her through their Out of School Mentoring for Girls program. Recently widowed and only 26 years old, Eunice was left to care single-handedly for her four children, ages ten, four, two and one. She has a lot stacked against her. She knows that at any moment her late husband’s brothers could legally take their home and land away from them. Though practically a child herself, her children’s survival is a delicate balancing act she performs every day.
When Eunice started working with DIG, her three youngest children were sick and malnourished. LCA tested and treated them for malaria and started supplying the family with food supplements. While this brought some immediate relief, she needed help for the long term. She needed a community of support, and skills she could put to use. With no formal education, Eunice’s options for work were severely limited. Coupled with the time and effort it takes to care for young children, earning a viable living became an unrealistic reality. But, through DIG’s Young Mothers Program, Eunice is finding a way forward. She shows up every week without fail–her youngest baby bouncing on her back and one or two more in tow–eager and ready to glean whatever knowledge she can apply to her situation.
The Young Mothers Program focuses on teaching economically appropriate organic agriculture to women who have had children at a very young age. Girls themselves, many widowed, some never married, these young mothers have to learn ways to translate small-scale farming into income-generating opportunities and, most importantly, how to enhance the health and nutrition of their children through gardening. Today, Eunice has a home garden with a wide variety of vegetables. She said, “I have minimized my expenses on buying food because I can now grow my own.” Her children are now strong and well fed. She is able to source almost all she needs from her garden; kale, amaranth, and black nightshade are staples in her field, and she hopes to start growing green peppers to sell in the local market. But, the vegetables aren’t the only things that nourish Eunice. She is now linked to a community of other young mothers like herself. She finds comfort in these women, strength in the connection they share and the resources available to them through LCA and DIG. She has peace-of-mind and hope for the first time. She said she feels lighter, that where she once carried her burden alone, she now has many hands lifting her up and giving her the strength to do more for her family.