Nicholas Kristof writes in the NY Times about a Kenyan called Jane, who was pushed out when her husband took a second wife and who found herself supporting her children through prostitution. That is, until she joined a remarkable nonprofit and made a better life for herself through sewing. She takes used wedding gowns and bridesmaid gowns and cuts them up to create several smaller dresses that she can sell.
Kristof writes that in 1999, Jane was fortunate to find “an antipoverty organization called Jamii Bora, which means ‘good families’ in Swahili. The group, founded by 50 street beggars with the help of a Swedish woman, Ingrid Munro, who still lives in Nairobi, became Kenya’s largest microfinance organization, with more than 300,000 members. But it also runs entrepreneurship training, a sobriety campaign to reduce alcoholism, and a housing program to help slum-dwellers move to the suburbs.” Jane became an entrepreneur, was able to get her children into good schools, and rejoiced to see them thriving.
But as Kristof explains, the lives of the working poor tend to remain one accident or illness away from upheaval. Jane’s daughter was hurt in a traffic accident and treatment for the injury sucked up all Jane’s savings, affecting her ability to pay for school.
Kristof likes to go beyond traditional reporting in his columns and give readers a way to help, so you might want to check his blog.
More on Jamii Bora: