Forest Communities

The Rukinga Community

July 10, 2010: by Joyce Hu, Creative Director for Wildlife Works Retail:

Lara drove us around to see more of the surrounding communities (which makes up about 45,000 people) who directly or indirectly benefit from our business and social programs.

This is a community library made possible by the leadership of a couple Peace Corps volunteers, Amanda and Kate.

Now, they just need money to build then sustain some after school programs. Before this library, the kids had nowhere to go after school to study, commune, seek support in an educational environment. They would just loiter around and get in different kinds of trouble. The school district this library serves has a lot of AIDS orphans. 7% of Kenya’s population is living with HIV AIDS. Crazy. There are many programs to help diminish the shame around the disease, the first step in slowing down the spread of it.

Next, we went to visit Mama Mercy who started a women’s group 8 years ago called Imani. She is the most enterprising woman in the area. She’s never been paid for what she’s doing, which is to create a community for the women to learn, gather resources and support each other for various needs. Without it, many women would not have access to health education, community funding resources and many daughters would be sold to prostitution.

Their immediate needs are – listed in priority:

– $1250 left to raise in order to build a water tank to catch the water run off from the tin roof during raining season. one rain can produce enough water for them for about a month.
– get the orphans within the group to secondary school (primary school was recently made free)
– subsidize secondary school for children who can’t afford to go
– many many more from here

Next, we went into Maungu, the nearest tiny town with market stalls to pick up veggies for dinner.

Joyce number 2, as everyone started calling her (which makes me Joyce 3), invited me to visit her home to meet her mother, 2 daughters and her brother’s daughter who she adopted.

Joyce owns a kiosk and an attached cafe in the local town of Maungu (5.000 ish people, possibly up to 10k – government will not release census). She is part of a finance trust from which she took a loan to build her business.  She has only one more month before it’s all paid off. She just started full time with us. With all this, she can support a family of 4 (mother, 3 daughters) all by herself. Her mother owns the plot of land that they live on (looked about 20 square meters). They also own a larger piece of land in another location on which they grow and sell maize during the raining season. Her mom also gets about $20 per month in pension.

She applied for a job at Wildlife Works because she wanted a more steady income so she can budget. Smart woman!

Joyce's home

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