Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Yaw Pachi Women's Group of Sagam

Yaw Pachi ( literal translation is 'open your mind' or 'expand your horizon') is one of the very active women's groups in Rabuor-Sinaga area. The treasurer, Jane Rogo, writes.....

Yaw Pachi Women's group was started in 1993 in Yala Township, Yala Division, Siaya District, Nyanza Province. The main purpose of the group was to come together, share and learn from each other on a variety of social and economic issues.

The core motivation was the desire to improve the economic condition of members and be able to own simple items such as cutlery and utensils and raise some money for personal use. This has been slowly realized through the Dairy Cow Project (see below).

Orphans' Center

In 2000, members decided to form Yaw Pachi Center for Orphans after they realized that many children within the neighborhood were being left orphans with no one to take proper care of them or under the care of aged grandparents or careless guardians. (It is important to note that over 90% of the deaths in the area are HIV/AIDS related.)

The objectives of the Orphans' Center are:
-- to provide food, shelter and clothing to 60 orphans under our care (see the GR Dream Child to Child Project, too);
-- to meet educational expenses of orphans in secondary school (currently three);
-- to initiate and expand on income generating activities;
-- to create and sustain HIV/AIDS awareness to members, orphans and the community.

Many households in the area have lost their breadwinners due the the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Parents are dying and leaving young children under the care and support of aged grandparents. The grandparents have no meaningful income, and so the orphans end-up being malnourished, sickly, walking in tattered clothes and even dropping out of school. Any little hope of better life for the orphans is further extinguished as soon as they lose their aged grandparents. These problems can be addressed if the orphans can be assured of food, shelter, clothing, education and guidance. This will enable them to also contribute positively to the development of the community.

Through love and support, the community are able to identify the talents and skills of the orphans. These talents can then be nurtured and shaped to help the orphans earn a decent living and also develop the community.

The Yaw Pachi orphans' center serves 60 children who are mainly affected by HIV/AIDS. They come to the centre every Thursday for meals and every Saturday for communal and private studies at the library. Each of the 20 Yaw Pachi members have been asked to care for 3 children. The mothers have a responsibility to see to it that the basic needs of the orphans are met. In their individual capacities, the members go out of their way to buy clothes, food and even medicine for the children they are assigned. The load has been eased a little bit through the income from milk sales (see the Dairy Cow Project below) but it is still heavy. The center also takes care of three orphans who are in secondary school. The group anticipates an increase by three in the number of orphans going to secondary school next year. The orphan center is located at a house donated by a family after the owners died

Three Yaw Pachi members involved in home-based HIV/AIDS care activities and network linked to the Sagam Community Hospital. Some of the cases being handled by the home-based care team include mothers of orphans being cared for by the center.

The centre currentlyManages to feed the orphans on once a week basis. Even though each member has been allocated 3 orphans, the members are overburdened, considering that they also have the responsibility for their own children and families.

The Centre wants to offer regular meals on a daily basis to the orphans. This will reduce the burden on their care takers at home. The Centre also needs to raise school fees for orphans, especially those in secondary schools. We anticipate the number to increase to 6 next year.

Dairy Cow Project

So far, seventeen (of twenty) members of Yaw Pachi Women's Group have benefited from dairy cows bought from funds donated by UNDP-Africa 2000 Network. The members have also established zero grazing units and some water tanks. Out of the seventeen, one beneficiary lost her cow when calving and also the total number is now sixteen. Fourteen members are milking and earning some income from the sale of milk. The remaining two are almost due for calving. Milk production is about 10 litres per animal per day. The beneficiaries can earn an average of Kshs. 240.00 per day. The remaining members will get their animals from the calves born by the existing cows.

Milk production in the area has gone up due to increase of dairy farmers and with more production, marketing is proving to be a problem. Hawking of milk has become quite tedious for the women who have to spare time both for the care of the dairy animal and the family. Time spent on hawking milk could as well be put into feeding the animal for increased milk production.

With the increase in milk production, Yaw Pachi hopes to be the first women's group in Siaya district to establish a small dairy plant that will collect, process, package and distribute milk to retail outlets. If this dream becomes true then the orphans will be trained to work as managers and workers within the plant.

Yaw Pachi Youth Group

The women decided some time ago to encourage their sons and daughters , and other youth to emulate their example. The youth group is already formed and has plans to set up two income generation projects. They intend to run a milk/bar to facilitate marketing of the milk. The orphans are expected to join this group as they come of age.

Appreciation. Yaw Pachi Women's group would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude and thanks to United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Africa2000 Network for their support to the group. Special thanks goes to Mr. Elly Oduol of UNDP and Mr. Situmo Mwichabe of Africa 2000 Network and all other officers of both organizations who have contributed positively to the growth and development of Yaw Pachi Dairy Project. Your funding, visits, motivation, encouragement and ideas have been our greatest source of inspiration. Your support to us has brought new lease of life to all members of the group. With the members empowered economically through dairy farming, they now have the confidence and energy to devote and fully commit their resources and time to serve the orphans. As a group and community, we are what we are because of UNDP-Africa 2000 Network. We shall continue to value and cherish our partnership and we pray that we remain true friends and partners.
Finally, we are excited by the initiative taken by our young son, Gordon Rogo. We pray that he sustains the spirit as the assistance he is giving is much needed, will help to alleviate the load on the mothers and assure a bright future for the orphans.

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