Stories of Change

Photo: Kenya, CWS

774 million adults – 64 percent of whom are women – still lack basic reading and writing skills.

Source: UNESCO,

After Learning to Read, 'Nothing Can Stop Us'

I enrolled in the CWS Karima Adult Learners' Centre in 2010, after persistent encouragement from my mother, now deceased, who also learned there.  

Once I was able to read and write and was operating a successful retail shop, thanks to CWS, I was elected group secretary. This position was very challenging because most women in the group still needed guidance on small scale business management. With continuous training from CWS we were able to manage our small businesses and earn some profits. We are more united than before. As a secretary, I help to keep the group records and to set up monthly meetings.

From January of this year, because of the perennial water shortage in our village, we got on a campaign called "each one a tank." This involves purchasing a 5,000-litre capacity water tank for each of the group’s 22 households. To make it easier for everyone, we planned to buy three water tanks at a time. We were able to raise enough money to achieve this dream in just a couple of months.

Unlike before, when we didn't have money of our own, we are now captains of our lives. Because we have safe clean water year round, the health of our children has improved and we also are able to sustain our chicken project. For us, the projects demonstrate our level of literacy. We now can read and count. We can communicate with the mobile phone and, most of all, we can keep our business records.

At Karima Learners’ Centre we feel empowered as we aspire to grow together. The initial business grant from CWS has gotten larger, giving us more independence. Every one of us has a growing business that is helping to feed our families. Every month, we come together to review our individual progress as we build up our savings. We have discussed the need to invest our money in a financial institution so that we can qualify for bigger loans in the future. We have big dreams and nothing can stop us now.

Storyteller:  Milcah Njeri, Kenya

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