Global Sustainability Newsletter

Issue 21 - April 2015


Africa is a fast developing continent where modernity is catching up with developed countries in the world. Not only industrial developments related to resource mining are thriving, the entrepreneurial spirit driven by uncovered enormous potential for a better life is rising very strongly. It is very encouraging to see all those very good African stories that are being reported in the media these days. But it would be too early to conclude that societies on this continent have made a full transition to a European or American standard of living.

There are many reasons for the slow pace of transition; many historical, cultural and present-day obstacles make it very hard for African communities to reach the required balance between the seeing of good opportunities and the ability of taking full advantage of them. One of the reasons some African communities instead of going forward are delayed or fall behind is HIV/AIDS pandemic. The pandemic leaves a trail of destruction not only of human lives, but also of the existing social structures. So many people have died in this pandemic and millions are still infected, that many family units have broken down and the old paradigm of family economy has been also severely degraded. Having no other options for income, many women and girls often earn their living through prostitution. With no education and no preparation for the demands of the current era, these women have no or very limited opportunities to lead a satisfying and productive life.

Situation of disempowerment, malaise and continuingly dropping standard of living gives no hope in the community for the present or future life. Starting with the basic social unit of family, whole communities and even countries may fall if such a situation is not addressed, if people in the community are not helped. Communities, similarly to individual people, can become sick. They need assistance to put them back on the road to healing and recovery. When people are ill, they seek a doctor to help them. Who is responsible for the health of communities? Who is the community doctor?

The common understanding is that a local government or a higher level one would be in a position the assist in such cases. But reality in many African countries (and elsewhere for that matter) is that priorities and finances have usually been committed to other problematic situations, or the government officials are not knowledgeable about social imperatives or not prepared to change the existing programs or the governments have very little resources and other priorities. Not uncommon is corruption in government circles. So the reality on the ground appears very depressing, not showing signs of easy solutions or any solution at all.

But for one woman in Kenya the case in her community was so heart wrenching that she found a solution. Rhobai Musimbi founded a centre to help women and girls get out of poverty. In 2010 Rhobai founded KAKAMEGA WOMEN TELECENTRE GROUP, to empower and assist girls and women by training them to become computer literate. The women then were able to apply for jobs, become secretaries, entrepreneurs or continue education. Through the work of this one community group the status of women was raised, the younger generation was shown that a community model can be constructive, and that the community has a positive and constructive path to the future.

In 2012 the Ministry of Gender and Social Services has registered the group as Community Based Organisation in Kenya. KAKAMEGA WOMEN GROUP has a long term vision about its community and potential services it could render. Some of the initiatives are listed below as they appear on the group’s website

  • To eradicate computer illiteracy
  • To bring about positive behaviour change to the women and girls about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and encourage support among them socially, economically and emotionally.
  • To come up with several income generating activities for women/girls
  • To develop a strengthen leadership and life skills among women and girls
  • To provide full support to the women and girls in Education, clothing, food, shelter and education
  • To encourage women and girls  to participate in international award schemes
  • To eradicate poverty and extreme hunger
  • To create awareness on Millennium Development Goals {MDGs}
  • To identify best practices in leadership and match them with the women and girls
  • To equip young lady leaders with different techniques of curbing unbecoming behaviours.
  • To expose our lady leaders to the administrative skills.
  • To equip women and youths with the skills of conflict resolution and peace building in the society at large.
  • To initiate and develop a cohesive and focused leadership concepts among women and girls.
  • To help nurture and promote the spirit of nationhood and national unity through leadership.
  • To help women and girls to identify and emulate their role models in the society.
  • To help bridge the gap between the old women and the young girls in leadership mentoring.
  • To impart skills of guidance and counselling as a tool in leadership growth.
  • To impart skills and ethics of integrity as an aspect of leadership and institutional developments.
Future plans
  • To provide information to the community that may lead to taking informed decisions. This shall be done by developing community based ICT and information centre within our location.
  • To address social, cultural and economic challenges facing the women such as:
  • Improve  women entrepreneurship skills and voice avenue
  • Give Education on Drugs and substance abuse.
  • Give guidance and counselling to   HIV/AIDS affected and infected cases
  • Rescue the School dropouts
  • Fight  Poverty and unemployment
  • Give hope to unstable women/girls
  • To serve as a mentor organization for resource facilitation, events organization, women challenges research for action groups.
  • Increase women/girls participation in economic activities for self and family well being
  • Women /girls will able to participate actively in sustainable development activities
  • Gender balance will be gained and computer illiteracy will be phased out
  • Establishment of more women and girls from the community to join this group
  • Creation of employment to the women and girls (Income generating activities for job  creation among  them)
  • Building of a centre fully equipped where lessons on awareness creation can be taught and have the materials to learn from e.g. videos, films, etc.
  • Building a medical unit for services to orphans and vulnerable children
  • A media room,  Education support,  Telefax,  IT training advanced
  • Information centre services to be upgraded
  • Support the OVC (Orphans Vulnerable Children) clothing, food and shelter.
  • Behaviour change seminars and workshops for women and girls as means of creating awareness of HIV/AIDS and even build a unit whereby VCT services will be offered within the centre.

The needs of this community and many other communities in Africa are vast. Rhobai Musimbi is an outstanding community leader and visionary. Her initial personal financial contribution to fund this centre has been indispensable at the time. Perhaps she could be helped in the coming years by donations from people and organisations who support such essential grass roots initiatives to transform individual lives in need into lives of personal self-sufficiency, at the same time transforming fallen communities into self-sustainable communities.

Danuta Nowak

Contact for Ms. Rhobai Musimbi is:

Skype: rhobaimusimbi Mobile: +254721771853 or +254738803471

Equity Bank - Kakamega Branch
Account Number: 0500199706306
Swift Code: EQBLKENA
Bank Code: 068