Florence Mukethi 26yrs, hails from the vast Tharaka Nithi County, Tharaka North subcounty, Kanjoro location Kiumbe village. She grew up in a family of 4, 2 boys and 2 girls. They lived in thatched, muddy, earthen floor houses. She slept on a mat on the floor. Her father passed on while she was 10yrs and being the second born and the first girl in the family, she had huge responsibility in helping her mother take care of her sibling. To make ends meet, Florence and her elder brother would dig pit latrines, work in people’s farms, clear huge chunks of land in preparation for farming among other things. Still she would cook and do other household chores at home.
Due to this life, it was hard for Florence to attend school consistently and most of the time she would find her siblings and herself out of school due to school fees. Even though she was lucky to get a well-wisher who would support her with school uniform and shoes, in a week she would attend school twice. Affording descent clothes was a challenge leave alone meals. On several occasions they would sleep hungry due to lack of food. She remembers how she sold three chickens at Ksh. 1,200 ($12) and bought a pink dress which was her Sunday best. She would wear it everywhere including the day she moved in with her husband. Her dream was to open up a business.
Life after marriage.
Due to the hardships from her family, Florence resolved to marry at the age of seventeen. her life wasn’t much different from her previous one. She became a housewife and was fully depending on her husband. Her normal day was doing house chores, farming and grazing in their two-acre land. The nearest source of water is 16km away. It would take her 6 hours to walk to and from the river with a 20ltr jerrycan on her back. Her husband on the other hand being the head of family like in every African family setting, had to source for livelihood income to sustain his family especially with him being a class five drop out. He resulted into working as a casual laborer at the construction sites.
Florence was among the first people to enroll for TWWP adult Literacy Class in Kiumbe. In partnership with MGS, they adopted basket weaving as their Income Generation Project. Today, Florence’s life has transformed. She now lives in a descent stony house with cement floor, affords descent clothes, sleeps on a mattress on a bed, uses solar power, owns a motorbike which makes it easier for movement and drawing water, affords descent meals and most importantly sustains her son in school by paying his school fees. Her dream of owning a business came true, she now owns a dressmaking shop.
Recently she was selected as Community Health Volunteer out of being a TWWP adult literacy learner and her financial progression thanks to the basket weaving project under MGS.
Her normal life starts at 7 am, prepares breakfast and spends 3hours at her business. She comes back home to prepare lunch, and juggles in between making baskets and house chores in the afternoon. Florence loves making baskets and a day wouldn’t go by without making one. She would rather skip some hours from the business for a basket. Even though her dream was to own a business which she now has, she wishes to expand it and open more. This way She may sustain her family and own more assets in her name.
Her biggest challenge is that her husband views her as financially stable, he doesn’t support her in restocking her business or in the provision of the basic needs as he used to, unless when they are doing a project together to improve their lives that’s when they cost share.
She has a son and currently expecting her second born which she hopes it’s a girl. She would never wish for her daughter to undergo FGM despite having gone through it herself because she now understands the dangers associated with it.
Its evidence that Florence young life and marriage hasn’t been a bed of roses. However, through the challenges she has turned out to be a better person every day. It’s great to see how well she has planned for her future with one family project at a time.