Pat’s Meru Page
Soroptimist Patricia Gatherum (Federation Ambassador) and Amanjit Dhillon (Child.org) gave their final report to the Bournemouth Conference.
Patricia was quite emotional as she told us that it had been a wonderful three years, working with the people in Meru and with fellow Soroptimists. We had smashed the £150,000 target and raised over £161,000. This enabled 1,462 women to be helped; workshops had been started on Female Genital Mutilation to get girls involved in alternative rites of passage; and many more women now understood the power they had.
Amanjit told us it had been an experience working alongside Soroptimists. Her organisation had learned a lot which would help them in their other work. The additional money raised with the matched funding enabled Child.org to set up pregnant support groups with mothers and babies. They had helped 464 more women than originally planned.
- May 2019
SIGBI has reached the target of £150,000, several months before the official end of the project. All further donations (before 30 September) mean that Child.org will be able to undertake extra work in support of the women and girls of Meru.
- October 2018
Agricultural training is ongoing in land preparation, soil fertility, leadership skills and record-keeping. Training is carried out on the spot in some communities. Also many new skills are covered in-depth so that members can return to their communities and educate their peers.
There is also continuing liaison with key local residents and officials (including chiefs) to aid understanding of the project and its benefits for all in the community.
Young mothers are being educated in reproductive health and nutrition. Weaning has been a particularly well-received topic, as the women realised they needed to change their methods. At each session, over 70 mothers attended.
- September 2018
As we are now starting the last year of this project. I pleased to report that we have already well on the road to exceeding our original target of £150,000. This has enabled us to extend our reach.
We planned for 200 people but now will be able to work with 439. More communities will therefore feel the benefit of the project.
We have also been able to extend the scope of the work on training the girls in ‘alternative rites of passage’. Boys are being educated about the positive impact on girls’ health issues that these rites have. Joy and celebration instead of the pain and long-term suffering of genital mutilation.
Motor bikes are also being purchased to enable the trainers to get around the villages quicker. These are easily available and will be maintained locally.
Despite solar ovens and other improvements having been brought to the communities the continuing request from the women is for more water tanks. This proves how important water is, to not only the crops, but to the health of the communities.
The total amount raised this quarter was £56,471.73 of which £1,188.75 came from SI South Lancashire.
- April 2018
A SIGBI study tour of the Meru Project took place recently. Read the brief report SIGBI Meru study tour 2018.
I enjoyed meeting Amanijit and Marti (from Child.org) who staffed the Meru stall at the Federation Conference in Cardiff. We talked about the up-to-date situation and about their ideas for the future of this project.
Delegates visiting the stall had the opportunity to watch a video of some of the women in Meru and the work they are undertaking.
The project’s total at the beginning of November stands at £93,530. This figure has given a boost to future expansion of work in Meru.
So far 10 water tanks have been distributed, and another 10 are waiting to go out; a further 20 are to be ordered.
Seminars for the girls are being held so they can learn the facts and dangers of Female Genital Mutilation. Seminars are also run to inform the boys in the community.
- September 2017
The women involved are working on their plots either alone or in groups. Despite the continual worry about the shortage of water many are growing enough, not only to feed their families, but to sell (to each other or at the local market) thus creating an income.
In addition, the Centre where all the training and meetings take place has plenty of land including a small farm with rabbits. The CIFORD office where Margaret and her team work also has a small garden. So, overall, there are plenty of areas on which to grow crops.
The Centre has been extended to include a kitchen. The dome building has been decorated in readiness to rent out when not being used for training purposes – the rent will then generate an income. It is also hoped to create a bore hole at the Centre as more water will help the local community.
- May 2017
I am pleased to report training of the four groups has now begun in the classroom. Shortly this will become practical ‘on the ground’ training. Care is being taken to ensure the curriculum is targeting the correct areas of need.
Currently there are fears that 74% of available water could be contaminated. Therefore, education on the collection and treatment of water will be started. This will improve current practice and safeguard health within the community.
Most women have a hoe of some sort but checks will take place to assess quality. Hoes will be replaced where necessary. Only 18% of women have a wheelbarrow so this will be looked into. The advantages of ‘wheels’ include transporting crops to market, and moving crops on the women’s farms.
- March 2017
The first report and update to Ambassadors from Patricia Gatherum (Federation Project Liaison) and Amanjit Dhillon (Fundraising Product Officer of Child.org).
- There had been agreement that work would not commence until £30,000 had been raised to ensure guaranteed follow-up with the project. The focus originally had been on ensuring sufficient capacity within CIFORD (our partners on the ground) to deliver what was expected. Funds raised now total approximately £47,000 and work has commenced.
- Five women’s groups have been selected to start agricultural training. They will be regularly monitored to ensure they are working well and committed to the training before progressing.
- Groups totalling 194 women and 4 men will be enrolling into the training starting at the beginning of April. It is intended that resources such as water tanks, equipment, etc. will also be carefully monitored. More will be provided if necessary. Training will take place every week and follow a curriculum.
- Two ‘Alternative Rite of Passage’ (ARP) sessions have been run with about 80 girls. These address the cultural practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) by providing information, offering options and thus empowering the girls to make their own decisions. Another is proposed for August if conditions allow (pending peaceful elections), and one in December.
- Forums for about 60 boys are planned around drug and alcohol issues. These forums will include education on gender issues.