Chepokrop smiles outside of her successful business.
"I started brewing alcohol by borrowing 1.kg (2.2lbs) of sugar from someone. I was desperate, my family didn’t have food and I needed something to do to survive. I thought alcohol was a good idea since it was popular in the village,” explained Chepokrop, her face flinched at the memory of those days. We sat in a small patch of soothing shade, away from the unforgiving mid-morning heat of Baringo East.
Everything looks brown and bare. Trees and shrubs wear gray thorny spikes for leaves, confirming the hardship of life in this dryland of Akwichatis village.
"But selling alcohol gave me nothing, no profit, only misery and trouble,” says Chepokrop. “I was dirty like this ground,” she said, pointing to the brown dirt. “No shoes, no bathing, quarrels with my husband and neglecting my children since I also became a drunkard.” Her firstborn daughter had long gone through FGM/cut and was married off for dowry. Two more daughters awaited their turn for FGM and marriage for dowry, as cultural practice demanded. In Chepokrop’s worldview, FGM brings dowry, a sure economic boost any family in this culture would desire.
She had heard that FGM was bad and risky, but had not taken it seriously. World Visions Kenya Big dream was entering the area. They began holding meetings, teaching villagers against FGM and the value of education for all their children, both girls and boys. An Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) was also conducted for the children in the area. Chepokrop was drawn by the World Vision teachings and felt some hope. “I realized these are good people. They teach us many things, to value our children and educate girls for a better future,” she said. It was the ARP training that her daughters and son attended, that cemented her conviction to abandon FGM.
Lomeni and Chepokrop pay a visit to her daughters school.
The Kenya Big Dream project also introduced Chopokrop to Savings for Transformation (S4T). After the training she abandoned drinking and brewing of alcohol. She began a small business, first selling veg-etables and small quantities of motor bike fuel. With the profit and a loan, she started a small kiosk selling vegetables, groceries and solar charging phones for a fee. “S4T trained me in business skills and how to save money through the group,” Chepokrop says. Chepokrop never went to school, yet she now runs her small business, an indication of her potential had she been educated. Irene Lomeni the World Vision S4T trainer/volunteer in the village expressed great change in Chepokrop. “I‘ve seen great transformation in Chepokrop since leaving alcohol and joining S4T group. Her children are healthy, they eat well and don’t miss school,” Irene says. “In fact she became a Christian and now goes to church and her husband is an elder there,” added Irene.
"I now value educating both my girls and boys. It’s a better investment for the future unlike goats from dowry which can be wiped out by drought,” says Chepokrop.