By Caroline SANG
Since 2011 Islamic Relief has implemented a programme to empower the orphaned and vulnerable groups of society in Mandera County, Kenya. This support has seen orphans in the region reigniting their dreams. The vulnerable orphaned families have come up with viable ventures to lead a decent life while contributing meaningfully to the society. The programme Orphan Micro Enterprise Programme (OMEP) has seen the widows establish shops, trade in animals and their products and save funds well enough to take their children to school. The project has so far nurtured the spirit of entrepreneurship among the community members who would have otherwise wasted away.
There is a glimmer of hope for the financially challenged and the bright needy children from deprived homes. The generous contributions to Islamic Relief have brought life to these vulnerable groups in the society. These groups have been integrated into the program through foolproof criteria that ensures that they are needy orphans.
Enterprise development harnesses existing skills, empowers ideas and even create more opportunities for people to buy into. The business training and loans that Islamic Relief provides to the women headed households go a long way in helping them provide for their families and take the first steps towards self-reliance. Halima Sheikh Ibrahim availed her first loan of Ksh 30,000 in 2009 after she lost her husband who was the sole breadwinner for her family. She invested it in setting up a small business of selling cereals. She then further acquired a second loan of ksh 30,000 which she used to restock her business. She currently sells her cereal in bulk to retailers. The loans have enabled her to earn an income to support her family giving them a new lease of life. She takes pride as she explains how gratified she is to be able to contribute so significantly to her family.
“We cannot compare our lives to how we were living before the grant. Our situation has greatly improved. Now I can afford to take my children to school and even be able to seek medical attention when need be. ”
Halima’s family is indebted for the contribution that Islamic Relief has provided them. Through the programme her children have been able to acquire education. It is worth noting that recently after the release of the results of the national Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams; Halima was beyond herself as she made a courtesy call to Islamic Relief office to share the success of her son Abdirahman Mohamed who made history by attaining a mean grade of an A; which is a first in the county, despite the numerous challenges.
A closer peek at the changed lives, beckons a stable and productive tomorrow. Going by the brimming ambitions harbored by the orphans, the next generation will undoubtedly plough back to the society.