By: Ibrahim Rashid Hassan - Gs&l Field Officer - RREAD Project - CARE KENYA
Hussein aliow lives in Bulla Hagars Village, Mandera Central district. A 33 year old with his wife and four children, he struggled to make ends, working as a waiter in a local food kiosk earning only KES 1700 a month, which could not cater for the basic needs of his family. After the kiosk was closed due to high staple food prices earlier this year, Hussein lost his job. He then started a casual job as a construction stone worker where he earned KES 100 - 150 a day but left as that could not cater for his family needs. In the same month his youngest child was diagnosed with acute malnutrition and hospitalized in Elwak's therapeutic clinic. With no money and in such a desperate situation, he sought assistance from the local Islamic preachers union where he got KES 5000 after his case was verified. One evening he was introduced to a saving and loans group by his elder sister, and after three days of training he decided to join Mabruk group Savings and Loans Association( in April 2011) and invested in buying shares. Some of his friends had labelled the idea 'a woman's thing', but Hussein was ready to give it a go.
After saving for just eleven weeks, he qualified for a loan of Ksh 6000, which he used to buy a donkey cart. He could never have dreamed of buying one until then. With his new means of transport he decided to expand his stone construction business by selling the stone to the residents of Elwak town, where demand would be high. In this way he was quickly able to pay back the loan.
'On a good day I make KES 1200 ; the savings and loans concept has actually helped me realize my dreams, food prices are rising and I could never have imagined that I would be able to buy a kilo of sugar and maize flour for my family on daily basis. The group savings and loans has really helped me realize my potential ; without savings and loans knowledge I wouldn't have had the ability to buy food for my family, I would have perhaps been a beggar' , he tells us.
Having seen the benefits of being in a Village Savings and Loans Association, Hussein advised his wife to join a group as well. In the meantime he will support her with the proceeds from the construction stone business. With the prospect of their combined capital growing, the future looks very bright for Hussein and his wife. In fact Hussein hopes to achieve a lot more from his continued participation with the Gs&l by starting a second hand clothes business in the near future.
Hussein is also particularly proud of his ability to buy fodder for his six goats, which he bought quite cheap as the seller didn't had the ability to buy them fodder during the prevailing drought.
'I am now proud that I have goats' , he says, 'you cannot be a pastoralist without even a goat!'
Hussein's status in the village has been greatly enhanced. One thing is for certain: none of his friends are calling the savings group 'a woman's thing' any more.
'My friends , all men, are now asking me how they can join the group and make profit like me' he says proudly before we leave him.